Andrew Lincoln and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd discuss Season 3 of The Walking Dead, airing Sunday nights at 9 PM ET on AMC
We are just two episodes into Season 3 of The Walking Dead, and the show has already shattered ratings records and helped put an end to AMC's dispute with the DISH cable provider. If that's not a successful season already, then I don't know what is. Series star Andrew Lincoln and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd held a conference call just after Sunday night's episode "Seed" to discuss the rest of Season 3.
Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes has certainly undergone quite a transformation from the beginning of the series until now. He spoke about Rick's humanity, and how he has grown more ruthless this year.
"I think his humanity is pretty intact but I think his ruthlessness or his decision making has very much moved into a Shane point of view. We obviously meet this gang at such a desperate and low act in their story, in Episode 1, with the dog food, that they're pushed into this position to take something that is probably, in any other circumstances, would have been a death wish, in prisons. There is an uncompromising nature that I think has happened over time to Rick. I think that the other thing to bear in mind is that he is the most isolated, I think, even within his group and in his relationship with everybody in the group, especially his wife. I don't think he is in the most stable. Certainly when I was playing it I wanted it to be an instantaneous almost Pavolvian reaction to this situation, which in Season 1 and Season 2, certainly I think he wouldn't have been so quick to make that judgment call."
He also spoke about Rick's need to protect the group around him.
"That's one of the joys of playing Rick. The moral ambiguity in the show is the most interesting part I think, for me, certainly as an actor because in any other world, in any other situation that wasn't hell, you wouldn't make these judgment calls or you wouldn't be pushed into this corner to make these calls. It's a justified decision in that he always has the group's safety certainly as a priority. So it is a sort of selfless act even though it is incredibly brutal. It's borne out of a selflessness."
Season 3 jumps ahead in time a bit, skipping the winter months. Gale Anne Hurd revealed that they generally do not have flashbacks in the show, although they reserve the right to do so.
"Obviously a lot of thought was put into each and every character and what they were enduring, how they were handling that intervening time. I don't think an entire dossier was created by the writer's room. And I'm sure that each actor had a different approach for their own character. We generally - and this is not a hard and fast rule - but we generally try not to do a lot of flashbacks in the show. At the same time, we hold out the right to do that if we feel that it's illuminating and it's important so that may happen but it's not typical of the current show."
The Season 3 premiere also featured an intriguing scene where their convoy had stopped to plan where they should go next. Andrew Lincoln revealed they planned out what each person's job was when their caravan had stopped.
"There was little things, like a convoy with the cars and we're looking at a map and we've just escaped again and we're on the run. I was very keen to sort of set up a ritual that we'd worked out, you know, in those intervening months. The convoy starts - Daryl is the person that chooses the place that's safe. I get out. I pace 15 steps and my son joins me, because he's the youngest and he's got the best ears and the best eyesight, and he counts because we don't have any - so he counts and I just say 15, no more, so it's 15 minutes is what we've got. Emily, who's the second youngest she goes to the back because she's got the best eyes and ears. And I just wanted little things like that that we developed over time. Also certainly a lot of our skills and the brutality we've developed, as we said, is that, as it got colder, because the walk has slowed down and we were able to navigate the winter months a lot better. We made a decision that we all found a place to hunker down for the coldest part of the winter."
The actor also spoke about how his mentality may match up with that of The Governor, played by David Morrissey, although Rick does bear a mental burden for each life he has lost.
"I think that that's an interesting idea. I obviously don't want to spoil anything but I think the common bond of leadership is something that they recognize in one another because perhaps they're both reluctant leaders that have had this thing thrust upon them and they've had to do this and stay apart. They don't have anyone to sort of share notes with, for want of a better description. So yeah, perhaps the Governor is a mirror to Rick, a little bit further down the line. I always say that with Rick is that every responsibility for each death costs him and by definition changes him, which is one of the great things about playing him is that he's very mercurial. I mean, he keeps, you know, developing and moving and it's kind of elusive. I'm not necessarily sure that that's the Governor's point of view. I think that he's made some peace with that, you know, that he doesn't carry the responsibility and the guilt so much as Rick so maybe that's where they diverge."
Gale Anne Hurd also spoke about the physicality of the show, and how they are one of the few shows on TV that do not use stunt doubles.
"Well first of all obviously this season is, as we call it, intense and pedal to the metal. The world is infested with more zombies. That's really not a surprise. There's more risk to our survivors now that they've left the farm. So two things come into play. The first is that we have a very large ensemble cast and there are scenes this season in which they work together as a unit as we've seen both in the first episode and the second episode. And that requires a lot of choreography of the stunt work. And unlike a lot of TV shows as, you know, Andy can attest to this our cast, you know, they're not doubled. It's really very, very, very infrequent that they're doubled. It's very careful work. They're working with Russell Towery, who's our stunt coordinator, and on a TV series you don't have a lot of time. So it's intense. We try to make it as safe as possible, you know, but it's, you know, it's physically incredibly demanding. Even with shooting with multiple cameras, we still have to do a number of takes. Each performance in these action sequences, as you can also see from watching the series, is connected. Often some of these sequences, unlike in a lot of films that I've done were you isolate, you know, a particular action beat, these often run rather continuously which is even more demanding and the bar's even higher."
Andrew Lincoln also spoke about a pivotal moment in last week's episode, where he was chasing down one of the prisoners.
"I think that he is behaving in certainly there an in incredibly irrational and reckless way. And I wanted that to be the case; I wanted it to feel like he was almost like a serial killer running after this prey, you know, like American Psycho. I do think that certainly over the course of this season people start to doubt Rick. His decision making as a leader is very much called into question this season."