Hey, all. Time for another Comic-Con live-blog from Hall H, this time for the highest-rated drama on television: AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” This is the show’s second year in the convention center’s biggest room, and one featuring yet another showrunner change, as Scott Gimple may have to explain what his vision for the show is, as compared to the departed Glen Mazzara (and, before him, Frank Darabont). This will be a big panel, with stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Scott Wilson, and Chad Coleman, Gimple, comic author Robert Kirkman, and other producers Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert and Greg Nicotero. The wifi seemed to hold up during my
“Veronica Mars” movie live-blog, so knock wood, I should be able to update frequently here, as well.
1:37 p.m.: “The Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick is our moderator, and he says he’ll be bringing the producers out first, then showing footage, before the cast joins us in a bit. Nicotero gets the biggest response of the producers.
1:38 p.m.: Hardwick asks Kirkman if things will get crazier next season. “It’s an escalation. The world is getting worse, people are getting more ragged,” Kirkman responds. Hardwick seems to be breezing past the Mazzara issue and simply asks Gimple the same question. Gimple: “It’s going to get insane very quickly.”
1:40 p.m.: Hardwick asks Hurd about the keeping emotions strong given the constant turnover in the cast as characters die and others show up. Hurd said at the start of filming for season 4, all 150 members of the cast and crew huddled together in the brutal Georgia heat and said, “Go team!” She says former actors “never really leave.” The cast did a field trip to see Sarah Wayne Callies do a play at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. “Once you’re part of this show,” she says, “you can’t get rid of us.” Nicotero says he still hangs out with Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey DeMunn. “I did kill him,” he says. “I ripped his stomach open. Fortunately, he got better.”
1:44 p.m.: Hardwick calls season 3 “the descent of the Governor” into being “a supervillain in the post-apocalyptic world.” What will he become now? Alpert says the threats are evolving all the time, like single walkers becoming herds. In the prison, the characters “might get a little comfortable, but then it’ll become dangerous.” Gimple says the Governor got “a great deal of positive reinforcement” for all the rough things he did, until Michonne killed the zombie version of his daughter. Kirkman says “all bets are off with him. How he returns, when he returns, and what he’s doing when he returns is going to be a pretty big mystery this season.”
1:49 p.m.: Time for a trailer of the new season (but only after the producers goose the crowd into cheering for the footage). It’s a good-looking collection of scenes, featuring several new characters (one of them played by “The Wire” alum Larry Gilliard Jr., who gets to do some scenes opposite Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese) and a whole lot of examples of Rick’s group (now including Tyreese and the Woodbury survivors) getting very efficient in how they deal with the walkers, look for supplies, etc. As I’ve noted, Gimple wrote two of last season’s best episodes (including “Clear”), so I’m hopeful for the new season, despite the many missteps of the back half of season 3.
1:50 p.m.: Hardwick says the new season will premiere on Sunday, October 13 at 9 p.m., which means “Talking Dead” will be on at 10. He introduces the cast. Lincoln’s sporting a salt-and-pepper beard. Yeun does a goofy dance. Cohan blows kisses to the fans. Scott Wilson pretends to be missing a leg. Coleman mimes swinging Tyreese’s hammer. Morrissey encourages the crowd’s booing of him, then gives us all a few warning looks. And Reedus gets the biggest applause, dressed very un-Daryl-like in a blue dress shirt and black tie.
1:52 p.m.: Hardwick asks the essential question: why did Rick want to stay in the prison rather than Woodbury? Lincoln says that will be answered in the new season. And how about Rick’s relationship with Carl. Lincoln says Carl “turning into a sociopath” at the end of season 3 has woken Rick back up to his parental duties. We’ll see that Rick has renounced a lot of his leadership of the group to focus on Carl and L’il Asskicker.
1:43 p.m.: Gurira talks about how Michonne is now part of a community, rather than just a loner. Hardwick asks if she can be emotional and still be a great warrior. “She’s every woman, baby!” Gurira jokes. Has she found the physical demands of the role any easier? She says it doesn’t get easier, though it’s helpful to keep her on her toes as a character in this world. For the new season, she rode a horse for the first time in her life.
1:56 p.m.: Audience member shouts out, “You’re lucky!” to Yeun, explains that he’s referring to Glenn and Maggie’s relationship. “You know it’s not a documentary?” Hardwick asks, before pivoting into a question about the state of Glenn and Maggie. Yeun says his love for Maggie was “tarnished” when she was hurt in front of him, and he mistakenly focused on vengeance rather than caring for her. He loved playing that arc and seeing Glenn grow up a bit.
1:58 p.m.: What did Cohan see from Maggie’s POV during those episodes? Cohan says Maggie wanted to move on a little faster than Glenn. “Interestingly, all that from the Governor,” she says, “propelled a whole new journey for her this year. So it was a really good springboard for a stronger cat.” She says we’ll see the relationship strengthened at the start of this year.
1:58 p.m.: How will Hershel’s role as the conscience of the group change in season 4? Wilson jokes that Hershel just “really wants to hold onto his other leg.” Says the whole group is so interconnected and dependent on each other, and it’s really wonderful to see how everyone reacts to each other. “I feel very happy to be a part of it, and will continue to be until whatever happens.”
1:59 p.m.: Hardwick notes that comic fans have been waiting a long time to meet Tyreese. How was it for Coleman to fit into a well-established group, and where does Tyreese fit in? Coleman praises his co-stars, says any actor would want to work with them and these producers. Says Tyreese is still trying to find out how he fits in, and “what are the rules of engagement for him” in the zombie world. How does a good guy like Tyreese stay good in a world like this? “I sense that he really needs a strong reasoning behind why he does what he does,” Coleman says, “but this world just won’t let him go that way… And eventually, a can of whoop-ass might get popped open.”
2:01 p.m.: Morrissey has frequently insisted that The Governor is not a bad guy. Hardwick notes that recent events might put the lie to that. Morrissey takes his character’s side and says he felt betrayed by his own people. “You’ve just gotta be on my side,” he says. “If you’re not on my side, you’ve gotta go.” Before he started shooting the new season, where did Morrissey think the character was going to go? Morrissey says we already saw some of that in the season 3 finale, where “a switch goes off in his head,” and now we’ll see him dealing with what that switch is.
2:05 p.m.: The crowd continues to loudly squeal at any mention of Reedus or Darryl. What was it like to play Darryl choosing the group over Merle, and dealing with his brother’s death? Reedus says Darryl was “doomed to become mini-Merle,” and played him as someone who was embarrassed to be racist and a drug user. “Without Merle around, he can find this sense of self-worth that he never would have found if the apocalypse never happened.” He doesn’t need the group for survival, but they are the family he never had. He notes that none of the characters are the same as they were in the first season.
2:05 p.m.: AMC just released the Comic-Con trailer for public viewer. I’m embedding it at the end of this post.
2:08 p.m.: Fan question time! Can Rick and Michonne hook up now, given all the changes to the story from the comics? Kirkman: “Anything is possible.”
2:10 p.m.: Now every question about Michonne leads to a male actor (in this case, Reedus) saying his character and Michonne will hook up. More seriously, how will Michonne and Darryl each deal with their recent losses? Reedus says everyone’s losing people, and both these characters are loners who are learning to be part of a group. “I think it’ll bring us closer together, and then we’ll get together. And maybe Rick can join. You never know!”
2:11 p.m.: That didn’t take long. A fan is declaring “Richonne all the way!” Asks Lincoln how he played the scene where Rick found out about Lori’s death. Lincoln talks about how tough it is to work with great actors whose characters then get bitten and die. This is the first time he’s been on a show this long. “You don’t only grieve missing a friendship; you’re never going to have those scenes again. That’s an incredibly sad thing to have happen.” He listened to a lot of music before filming the scene, “and I try to see what happens… I just got into a place, and then sort of let myself alone. And Chandler (Riggs) was amazing. Because he looked at me, and there was one look that broke my heart.”
2:13 p.m.: That didn’t take long. A fan is declaring “Richonne all the way!” Asks Lincoln how he played the scene where Rick found out about Lori’s death. Lincoln talks about how tough it is to work with great actors whose characters then get bitten and die. This is the first time he’s been on a show this long. “You don’t only grieve missing a friendship; you’re never going to have those scenes again. That’s an incredibly sad thing to have happen.” He listened to a lot of music before filming the scene, “and I try to see what happens… I just got into a place, and then sort of let myself alone. And Chandler (Riggs) was amazing. Because he looked at me, and there was one look that broke my heart.”
2:15 p.m.: How does the whole cast feel when a character has to make an exit? Gurira notes that Laurie Holden indoctrinated her into the show. “The beauty of this show is the structure is that people come and go. And that structure works.” But it’s hard as an actor, and it informs what they do on screen.
2:16 p.m.: Nicotero says the screening room in Georgia has retired jerseys of all the castmembers who have been killed off, and they call it “The Grateful Dead.” It helps remind the producers of where they’ve been and where they’re going.
2:20 p.m.: Hardwick is really interested in Yeun’s workout routine, I think, and notes how much more ripped he is than in the first season. Yeun does a bad Jon Bernthal impression, explaining that Bernthal talked him into working out at his gym shortly before leaving the show.
2:22 p.m.: Group of fans dressed as Glenn, Rick, The Governor, Darryl and a trio of walkers approach the mic to ask the actors how they would deal with a real zombie apocalypse. Some awkwardness when Yeun asks if the three female walkers are triplets, when it turns out they’re not related. “Am I being Asian – I mean, racist?” Yeun asks, before hanging his head with the thought of making a big gaffe like this at each Comic-Con panel. Kirkman acknowledges that he wouldn’t want to live in the world he created. “I don’t know if I’d hang myself. I’d probably jump off a high place” to enjoy the brief free-fall sensation. Does Lincoln feel prepared for the apocalypse? “I’d be useless, actually,” but says Riggs has grown up. “This boy is a beast now, and his voice is an octave lower than when you last saw him.” So he’d just stand behind Riggs. What would Reedus do? “I would take over a hotel, spray paint myself silver, run around in circles naked and watch ‘South Park.'”
2:28 p.m.: Hall H staple Button Lady wants Morrissey to be able to sing on the show, “Maybe a melancholy song, just before Carl kills you?” Morrissey can’t envision a crossover between his work in “Blackpool” and “The Walking Dead,” but says, “You never know.”Now the entire hall is exhorting him to sing, but he declines.
And that’s all, folks. Back in a few minutes with “Game of Thrones.”