The Walking Dead has ruled over New York Comic-Con for years now, and 2012 was no exception. Fans turned out en masse to see AMC's hit zombie apocalypse drama premiere new footage from season 3, and also to meet both fan-favorite cast members and the new additions who will be playing some highly-anticipated new characters from the comic book series.
Season 3 is what fans of Robert Kirkman's comic book and even the cast and producers of the show have all been waiting for: Big storylines, iconic characters, shocking developments and a constant dose of grittier survival horror are all on the menu - and the showrunners claim that they are shying away from nothing. The season 3 trailers have looked action-packed and epic - but does the new footage measure up? Read on to find out.
The panel started with footage from the season 3 premiere. The clip was actually the opening to the episode - and funny enough, it featured almost zero dialogue. The purpose was to quickly establish the state of the characters since we last saw them, and this opening did so pretty effectively. The biggest change is with Carl, who now carries his own gun (complete with homemade silencer) and dispatches walkers with no hesitation. The traumas of the road have clearly matured Rick’s young son.
Time has also clearly jumped by months, as Lori’s baby bell has swollen to bursting. In the scene, the survivors enter a rural home, and therein they quickly, efficiently, dispatch all the walkers camped inside, claiming the house for themselves. However, they've barely settled down to catch their breath (while having an unspoken tiff about whether or not to eat a can of dog food) before out of the window we see a herd of zombies marching on the house.
The survivors – with none of the stupid, panicky behavior we’ve seen from them before – just as efficiently grab their wares, hop in their cars, and continue down the road.
Hosted by Chris Hardwicke (host of AMC's Talking Dead), the panel included Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, producer Gale Anne Hurd, returning cast members Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs and Michael Rooker - in addition to new cast members David Morrissey (as The Governor) and Danai Gurira (as Michonne).
- Andrew Lincoln describes the time jump and evolution of the characters in that space. He makes special mention of Chandler Riggs as Carl, and says that in terms of the darker material, ‘he’s killing it,’ (figuratively not literally). He added he made the mistake of asking the writers ‘What’s Rick’s breaking point?’ and that we will find out just how far and brutal the road to that breaking point stretches.
- Riggs describes the joy of playing a darker Carl (“It’s like playing two characters”). He describes the new tribal mentality of the group and how they hardly have to communicate with words, they’re so used to working as a unit at this point. He praises his cast mates. Compares his new arc to becoming a boy soldier. He later described how difficult some of sure-to-be-controversial scenes in season 3 were to film; Lincoln’s assessment: “He nailed every single one.”
- Producer Gale Anne Hurd adds, “This time, when someone asks ‘Where’s Carl?’ we can say ‘In the house – killing zombies!’”
- The crowd all sang happy birthday to Norman Reedus’ son Mingus, who was turning thirteen.
- Reedus went on to describe Daryl’s struggle this season – between the new family he protects, and the old family who comes calling in the form of his brother Merle (Michael Rooker), who hasn’t been seen since season 1. He added that Daryl kind of considers Rick his new brother. They’re on set joke is Reedus whispering, “Love you,” to Lincoln, who responds “Fuck you.”
- New cast member Danai talks about stepping into the iconic role of Michonne, and how she’s not used to the crazy whirlwind of things like NYCC. Someone shouted out “Brooklyn,’ mistakenly thinking she is from there. She’s not.
- Danai Gurira describes Michonne as being the type who not only survives but Thrives in a dystopian world. “She’s an intense chick,” a strategist. Describes her practical intelligence in using zombie pets and such.
- David Morrissey describes his Governor as being drawn from a midpoint between Kirkman’s origin story “Rise of the Governor” and the character who appeared in the original comic book story arc. He won’t say he’s explicitly evil – though Lincoln was happy to clarify the point: “He’s evil.”
- Michael Rooker jokes with host Chris Hardwicke (Talking Dead), about why people should love Merle (he’s what you want in the zombie apocalypse).
- Glenn Mazzara couldn’t attend, but sent a not along for fans, promising more zombies this season. Other cast shout-outs included “T-Dawg for president!”
- A little child asked spoiler-filled questions about all the “Crazy stuff” that happens in the comics, and will we see it on the screen. Kirkman countered with stern parenting advice: “You shouldn’t be watching this show.” The kid (age 12) responded that he reads the comics too. Kirkman: “That terrifies me.” Riggs pointed out that he started reading the comics at age 10. That reminder only makes Kirkman feel worse, and starts a baffling run of children participating in The Walking Dead Q&A.
- A second young man asked Riggs if he wants a new girlfriend now that Sophia is gone. Riggs (joked?) that Carl is thirteen and Beth is seventeen “So you could see something happen there.” We hope it was a joke…
- Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd say that make-up artist Greg Nicotero’s Emmy-winning Webisodes will remain separate from the continuity of the show.
- Cast favorite weapons: Flamethrower (Lincoln); Gears of War Lancer (Riggs); Bazooka (Reedus); back-up Katana (Gurira); Chuck Norris (Audience suggestion); Arm-attached rocket launcher or bazooka (Rooker).
- Andrew Lincoln is asked by a pretty young girl to critique her mom’s Walking Dead leg tattoo. After re-iterating for the cameras (and his wife) that it was “On her leg,” he gave his stamp of approval (to many jeers from the other cast members).
- When asked if he expected Daryl to be so big (given he’s not from the characters) Kirkman jokes that he doesn’t pay attention to Daryl for that very reason. He then seriously adds that the new characters are the most fun for him to play with.
- An even Younger girl asked Riggs if he wanted to kill Shane in that climatic moment from last season. Lincoln interjects “Yeah you did… he slept with mom.” He immediately knows that he will never live this comment down. Riggs claims that killing Shane was the moment that manned him out. He also said (with no hesitation) that Carl would kill Rick with no hesitation if Rick was ever bitten. That made Andrew Lincoln a proud TV parent.
- Reedus talks about his characters much-debated arc in the “Sophia saga,” and how Daryl’s past of abuse – and new place in a makeshift family – was all about trying to find something good to hold on to – and then hold on to it. He says that romance for Daryl is unlikely, “Daryl has no game,” and that he wouldn’t even know how to accept affection.
- The cast are asked what their protocol is a for a real zombpocalypse. Hardwick: “Get as far away from this place as possible.” Riggs adds that Comic-Con is not the place for a zombie showdown – you wouldn’t be able to tell the real zombies from the cosplay.
- Reedus hints at his upcoming struggle to be the new improved Daryl, and being the little brother to Merle.
- The cast members describe their ‘new selves’ in season 3. Lincoln describes Rick going from oblivious coma survivor, to struggling leader, to warring general in season 3. “I’m going to the dark side this season – I’m still kinda there.”
- Morrissey won’t drop spoilers, but says his Governor – while different from the comic – is still in the twisted spirit of the character. Fans will have to watch and see just how that develops.
- The cast describes a rough set – with multiple injuries – but that’s just how they like it. “We could do it on a sound stage in Burbank,” Reedus added sarcastically. Gurira jokes about her filming experience being the bane of her chiropractor, but it gives her a sense of truly “earning her check.” Morrissey praises the extras who play the walkers, while Rooker calls production on the show, “Beautifully brutal.”
The Walking Dead Season 3 Premieres Sunday October 14, 2012 @ 9/8c on AMC.