AMC's frightfully popular horror series The Walking Dead, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a group of survivors following the aftermath of a mysterious zombie outbreak that has all but decimated civilization, has led viewers through quite the emotional ringer over the last three seasons. Never one to shy away from surprises, the show has become notorious for its merciless treatment and eventual offing of beloved or otherwise assumed-staple characters.
The show's cast, at least of those who, as of the current third season, could still be counted among the living, were on hand at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills for The Paley Center for Media's annual PaleyFest Event, speaking to ET about all things Walking Dead.
Actor Norman Reedus, who plays the unpredictable Daryl Dixon on the show, spoke fondly of both cast and crew, telling us, "This is one of those shows where the cast really love each other and the writers and the producers and the directors all hang out and go to dinner and talk on the phone. That's been my favorite part of being on the show. Everyone asks me, 'why do you think this show has been such a big success?' I think it has to do with, everyone's infected, and these are your two feet on the ground, and everything you say is important, everything you do is important, and who do you want to be? Who would you be in this sort of situation? I think that's the glue that keeps people watching."
"As a woman, I find it really empowering," reveals actress Laurie Holden, who plays Andrea on the show. "I never had a job this cool before, where I'm able to really explore my heart and be part of great storytelling and then turn around and kill zombies in the most vicious way. It's just, when do you get to do this? And they're always such creative ways, whether it's with a screwdriver or a machete or a knife or clobbering them, or a rock. So, it's really fun to be beating up the monsters."
"The best part is, honestly, showing up on set and not having to act, because the world that they create is so realistic that you just show up and scream as you would really scream," tells Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn Rhee on the show. For him, though, working on such a graphic show does have its downsides. "It's disgusting," he jokes. "The show is disgusting. It's crazy. …the stuff [the creators] come up with, it's like, what is wrong with you guys?"
Executive producer and The Walking Dead comic book co-creator Robert Kirkman was also on hand at the event, eager to share with us his inspiration for writing the comic books that serve as the foundation of the hit series. "The entire genesis of The Walking Dead was [to include] everything [that I loved] about zombie movies," he tells ET. "[I've always] hated the way [zombie movies] ended, so I wanted to do the zombie movie that never ended, and a lot of that love comes from George Romero's zombie films. I also just think that the zombie genre never got its due. I think that they're really heartfelt, dramatic movies that deal with humanity in really interesting ways and I think that there's a lot of story potential in that genre."
Acclaimed makeup and special effects artist Gregory Nicotero, who also executive produces on the show, reminisced about the early days of the zombie film. "…My first job in 1984 was [on] Day of the Dead with George Romero. So, in almost 30 years, what I love is, the art form that we've fine tuned in terms of special effects, makeup and creature effects, is still forefront in this kind of moviemaking."
"I love that we're influencing younger filmmakers," he tells ET. "Not only is it inspiring younger people who want to become filmmakers and write and direct and do zombie makeup, but even people in the industry find it compelling, and to me, that's a fantastic opportunity to give back and do it [like] when I was a kid."
For more Walking Dead madness, including what actor Andrew Lincoln, who plays lead character Rick Grimes on the show, thinks is the best way to kill a zombie, click the video!