As the recent record-breaking premiere of Fear the Walking Dead proved, people are still nuts about zombies, and thus it should be no surprise that the Q&A for cast members of original recipe The Walking Dead was at capacity Sunday morning at Fan Expo. Unlike Dragon Con, which has the benefit of being in the hometown of Dead, Atlanta, GA, only three members of the cast were in attendance at Fan Expo this year, but that didn’t even slightly dampen the enthusiasm for the show or its stars.
Of course, this promotional break for Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs and Lennie James comes somewhere in the midst of shooting the sixth season of the zombie apocalypse drama, James’ first as a regular cast member. “When we did the pilot they said there’s a chance I’d be coming back,” James said of his long association with The Walking Dead. “From there on, there would be continuous conversations to see when it would be best for the story and what would be best for me.”
Naturally, there was a lot of teasing about season six, and without a whole lot of detail. But the excitement of the cast members for the coming season was very, very palpable. “This season is so much like season one,” said Riggs. “It’s big and epic, and even the heat is so intense it feels like were going back to season one.”
“It’s going to be season one on Viagra,” Reedus added. “This season has some pretty bananas things.”
James was addressed specifically because his character Morgan is the latest addition to the permanent (until death) cast. He couldn’t go into how Morgan will perceive his old friend Rick after seeing him execute a man, but we will learn more about Morgan’s journey from Atlanta to Virginia. “I think I’m allowed to say that, yes,” he confirmed.
“There’s a scene coming up where there’s a really tough location and that was difficult physically,” James explained. “One of the challenging things [for me] is that I used to pop in and out [of the show], and now to experience the Georgia heat is really physically demanding. The sweat… Our set stinks. It really smells, but we got used to.”
Riggs, who is well read concerning the Walking Dead comic book, was asked what character from the comic he’d like to see on the show. “It’s coming up this season,” he said excitedly. “Everything this season is going to be so cool, so cool.”
Even a seemingly innocuous question about the cast’s favourite lines seemed to dip into spoiler territory. “This season has a bunch of them,” said Reedus.
“My favorite is a line Chandler says in the new season and it’s utterly and completely fantastic,” added James. “It’s probably the best line ever.”
“It’s a good one,” concurred Reedus.
The cast later confirm the general direction there characters are going in. “Death,” Riggs said inevitably.
“I think were all heading in that direction,” Reedus added. “And maybe sex somewhere along the way.”
Many of the biggest cheers were for the man called Daryl, and many of them from ladies. So how does Reedus feel about being a sex symbol. “Look at me,” he said pointing at the band aids on his left hand, which he roughed up while shooting a fight scene the other day. “It’s just ridiculous. I have a cat and I just watch South Park all day.”
A fan wearing a “If Daryl dies, we riot” t-shirt asked Reedus how he felt about all the fan support for his character. “When we first started this show, we didn’t know what it would come to at all,” he said. “We work really hard and it’s nice to get all this love, me and the entire cast, we all feel like that.”
As for rioting in the event of Daryl’s death. “People form opinions, but we know on our end what we’re doing and we hope people just accept that and run with that,” Reedus added. “We’re just trying to tell a story the best we can.”
“I spend a lot of time standing behind Norman because they’re not going to kill him,” James joked later.
One of the things that the cast has enjoyed about working on The Walking Dead is experiencing the rapid growth and change of their characters over years, and for one that’s included actually growing up. “I was 10 or 11 when I started the show so I’ve grown up with my character.” Riggs said. He also added that he doesn’t pay too much attention when people have complained in the past about Carl being a stupid kid. “I don’t really do that because I understand the motives of everything he does, and why he does those things. I am Carl.”
“I think that’s one of the things that’s brilliant about the show, they get to grow and change,” added James. “It’s not like tuning into a sitcom to see Norm [from Cheers] say the same thing at the end of the bar for 10 years. Everybody changes and everybody develops.”
And that includes the actors themselves, their Walking Dead experience has changed the way they look at the world. “Walking into supermarkets now, I think about how I can take everyone out with my stick,” joked James. “It usually happens when people are walking towards me.”
Reedus, meanwhile, understood the true reach of the show when he was asked on social media to help a family cover the medical bills for a boy’s near drowning by bringing attention to their Kickstarter. Between the time he had left the set and posted a link and by the time he got home, the Kickstarter goal was reached.
“That’s awesome that I can help do that, and since that moment I’ve been doing a lot of that stuff,” Reedus said. “It’s probably one of the best parts of all this.”
Right after becoming an accidental sex symbol of course.