Since announcing a return to television with the upcoming TNT series L.A. Noir, it was inevitable that Frank Darabont would address his highly publicized departure from The Walking Dead, and he did so in a recent interview with TV Guide.
Naturally, due to the success The Walking Dead had enjoyed up to that point, and because Darabont is a well-known talent, the unexpected exit of the show’s lead creative voice became the subject of great speculation last summer. The reason for Darabont’s leaving was eventually blamed on budget constraints issued by AMC after The Walking Dead’s first season.
Through it all, Darabont remained silent. However, with the first Darabont-less Walking Dead episodes airing when season 2 resumes in February, now is probably as good a time as any for the filmmaker to put the issue to rest.
According to Darabont, the show’s dwindling budget was certainly the impetus for his parting with AMC – though he acknowledges the rift runs deeper.
"…I was really given no choice. I don't understand the thinking behind, 'Oh, this is the most successful show in the history of basic cable. Let's gut the budgets now.' I never did understand that and I think they got tired of hearing me complain about it. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's as far as I want to go with it because otherwise it's just provoking more controversy and that's not really of interest to me. I just want to keep my head down and do my job and be allowed to do my job, that's key, and continue to, hopefully, enjoy it and do good work."
When discussing how the cast took the news, Darabont admits it was hard for everyone, but still manages a sly nod toward the next genre he’ll be undertaking.
"These people are like family to me. It has not been easy for anybody. Let me put it that way: It was like a death in the family. Only I was the dead guy. I felt like William Holden, face down in the swimming pool, narrating this thing."
Of course in mentioning Billy Wilder’s 1950 classic, Sunset Blvd., Darabont clearly has his mind on TNT’s new period drama L.A. Noir – for which he provided some tantalizing details on the upcoming pilot.
"Certainly Mickey Cohen and Bugsy Siegel and William Parker will be vital components of that. But where exactly the mix lands, that's work yet to be done. Joe Teague is the lead of the pilot, he will be a good way to step into this world. And what's a good noir without a great noir dame? I definitely have in mind a very, very nice, complicated girlfriend for Joe. It's not quite a meet-cute scenario but they're definitely going to have some heat to it I think.
The pilot takes place in 1947, this is that massive post-war boom where the soldiers came back and they settled here because they weren't going to go back to the farm or Detroit. A little bit of Joe Teague is based on a gentleman that died back in 1992 but he was the father of a best friend of mine. He fought in the Pacific and was originally dirt poor from the slums of Detroit and he went off to war and when he came back, he settled in Los Angeles like so many others did. That's kind of an interesting world because the whole city is being reinvented. The Valley is being uprooted and turned into housing. There was so much that was happening at the time."
Undoubtedly, it was a surprise to find out Darabont’s initial post-Walking Dead gig would be a return to the medium speculated by many as a poor fit for the director’s sensibilities, but the director sets the record straight on that topic as well.
"I love the medium. I love that I finished the script on New Year's Eve and we're already greenlit and planning to shoot in April. I love the pace, I love the momentum of it. I love you can get in there and not second-guess everything to death. For the guy that directed The Green Mile, by comparison that was a generous schedule. In recent times I've really gotten to like the brisker pace. I really have."
It certainly sounds as though Darabont has put The Walking Dead behind him and is ready to tackle his newest series. And with Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Gosling, in theaters this fall, Darabont may have picked the perfect time to launch L.A. Noir.
With production on L.A. Noir starting soon, Screen Rant will be sure to update with any breaking news. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead continues its second season starting February 12 on AMC.
Source: TV Guide