Paleyfest 2013: The Walking Dead Panel

The 30th Annual Paleyfest launched Friday with a panel to die for (yep, I went there), with cast and creators of AMC’s hit The Walking Dead. Moderated by nerd king Chris Hardwick (Host of The Talking Dead and creator of Nerdist) the panel included Robert Kirkman (Creator of the Comic, Head Writer, and Executive Producer), Gale Anne Hurd (Executive Producer), Dave Alpert (Executive Producer), Greg Nicotero (Executive Producer, Makeup Maverick, and Director of several eps), Andrew Lincoln (“Rick Grimes”), Danai Gurira (“Michonne”), Laurie Holden (“Andrea”), Steven Yeun (“Glenn Rhee”), Norman Reedus (“Daryl Dixon”), Scott Wilson (“ Hershel Greene”), and Emily Kinney (“Beth Greene”).

Paleyfest, TWD - Robert KirkmanAfter the audience was treated to approximately 10 minutes of the upcoming episode, we got down to business. A hilarious panel, which was more about character insight and what’s gone into making the series so far, rather than what we might be looking forward to. But what can you expect from a show that prides itself on keeping the audience guessing, even though it’s source material is nearly 10 years old. Here are some highlights:

  • According to Hardwick, 1000 people got spontaneously pregnant when Norman Reedus walked out on stage. Believable from the way those ladies in the audience responded.
  • Carl is one of Kirkman’s favorite parts of both the comic and the show. He’s a good way to gauge the world that they’re living in; the way he evolves to cope with the world.
  • Alpert thinks there is some good in The Governor. That he genuinely wants to take care of people, but the Apocalypse has brought out some of the worst. Yep, if there’s good, it must be very deep down.
  • Holden thinks after Andrea’s visit to the Prison, she definitely no longer thinks The Governor is a good man.
  • Hardwick describes Carol’s plan as her “creepy vagina warfare plan.” Holden thinks Andrea genuinely meant to carry out the plan, but having never killed a human being before, was unable to follow through.
  • During an trail into the Harry Potter universe, Hardwick revealed he was sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore, and Lincoln confessed he’s rather furious that he and David Morrissey were the only two English actors who weren’t in the films.
  • Lincoln thinks one of his greatest heroic strengths is that he takes so much onto himself, and feels everything that goes wrong with the group. Including Laurie’s death. Of course, it’s also his Achilles’ heel.
  • There’s a moment in the most recent episode that holds a mirror up for Rick that makes him realize he needs to come back from the brink of crazy (referring of course to the confrontation with Morgan). You’d think the attack by The Governor might have done that.
  • Reedus describes Merle as “kind of like your drunk uncle at a Christmas party.” Later adding that the Dixon brothers fight because they’ve always had to fight, and that Daryl has grown into a better person because people are relying on him, and that maybe Merle is jealous of that. Reedus thinks that there’s good in Merle, even though he’s tried to kill half the people up on that stage.
  • Holden is clearly very protective of her character, stepping up to confront any negative comments about Andrea’s motives.
  • Paleyfest, TWD - Gurira & HoldenGurira believes that Michonne does feel as though Andrea chose Woodbury over their friendship. Holden thinks she chose a life and community, and that’s not what Michonne wanted. “Michonne chose to leave, Andrea chose to stay. They were two adult women who made a decision,” says Andrea.
  • Yuen thinks Glenn believing he’s capable of leading while still upset over The Governor’s treatment of Maggie is completely selfish and prideful. He’d rather just be living in a field of food with her. Yuen’s words, not mine.
  • Lincoln gets a bit lost in an answer to a question about leadership, but admits that Rick makes some pretty bad calls this season, and always has really. It does make for good television.
  • Reedus at least thinks that Daryl isn’t interested in leadership. That he sees Rick as the brother Merle could never be, and that had they never found this group, Daryl would have been a bad guy. Like those guys they ran into in the bar in S2 perhaps.
  • Is Woodbury salvageable? Holden thinks so. “She went back to Woodbury to try and prevent a war.” Because Andrea was a lawyer before the apocalypse (yep, I forgot about that one too), Holden believes her mind is on mediation and trying to salvage the situation if she can.
  • At this point Holden is totally me and starts crying when talking about Dale. Because apparently she’s as emotionally as I am. “She’s trying to keep Dale alive by sleeping with the Governor,” quips Hardwick trying to lighten things up again.
  • Paleyfest, TWD - Nicoterro & LincolnActors are brought into the writers room to discuss their characters while the seasons are being planned. Kirkman thinks it’s important to get that feedback from the actors and that it helps inform the process, but doesn’t really care if the actors don’t appreciate it.
  • He adds it’s very easy to kill off a character in the comic because it merely means that they won’t be drawing or writing that person anymore. While of course with the actors it’s a much more emotional process, though it is a necessary part they all know they have to deal with. I mean, if you didn’t want your character to possibly die, you probably shouldn’t have joined a show about a Zombie Apocalypse, really.
  • When Hardwick asks if the cast would consider doing this kind of show again, their “No!” comes pretty quick.
  • A very nerdy question is asked that prompts the rest of the panel having to explain what a “meme” is to Lincoln. I was just happy for him that he didn’t know.
  • Kirkman appreciates getting to shake things up by changing the storylines from the source material of the original books.
  • The cast admits to fearing that their character may die at any point. “It’s like the characters, you never know what’s around the corner, so you just use it,” says Kinney.
  • When a character dies the whole cast gets together for a ‘death dinner’ where they have a cake, and everyone comes out sobbing.
  • Reedus appreciates an audience member calling him the new Chuck Norris, but worries Norris will kick his ass now.
  • Characters from the Telltale game will stay separate from the show, because Kirkman likes having the unique experience of each format.
  • Reedus wants to drag out the Daryl/Carol story as long as they can, and has decided Daryl shouldn’t make the first move.

And that’s our panel! You can watch the panel in it’s entirety over at Hulu Plus.

Photos courtesy of The Paley Center for Media.