In an incredibly candid interview, Norman Reedus has recalled his nerve-wracking first day on the set of AMC's The Walking Dead, and how it ended up shaping the character of Daryl Dixon. Reedus went on to become a fan favorite, of course, to the point that headlines about Daryl’s potential death are sure to send shivers down your spine.
With The Walking Dead’s 100th episode – which just so happens to be the season 8 premiere – inching ever closer, this is the prime time for the cast members to look back over their time on the show. They’ve recently been chatting about how the show’s 100 episodes have changed their lives. And, on a funnier note, some of them even tried to recap the whole lot in under 30 seconds. That’s clearly an impossible task, but Reedus was just as cocksure and funny in that video clip as his fans have come to expect.
However, Reedus wasn’t always as confident as he appears to be now. In a new interview with EW, he’s revealed that his first day on set was full of nerves and insecurity. “The cast had already been doing press junkets together and I was super nervous and everybody was all buddy-buddy and stuff”, Reedus recalls, touching on the perils of joining the show in its third episode – when everyone else was already getting chummy. Reedus then described the first scene he had to shoot:
“I was super insecure and super nervous. And everyone was like, ‘Oh, who’s this new kid?” I remember the scene where I come up and I yell at Merle. I’m like, ‘Merle, we got squirrels, let’s do ‘em up!’ And they say, ‘We locked your brother on the roof.’ And I remember turning around and seeing all these faces looking at me as the new kid in school.”
Of course, having nerves on your first day in a big new job should totally be expected. But what you might not expect is how Reedus channeled those unsure energies into the character of Daryl:
“[The first day] made me so insecure that I kind of threw everything that way and didn’t look up much and didn’t really look everybody in the eyes. I was kind of like, ‘Don’t look at me.’ And I was like, Oh, that’s who Daryl is. He’s got such a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t think anybody likes him so he plays everything like he doesn’t look at you — unless he’s screaming at you! So that’s kind of how I found that character day one. And then I just ran with it.”
Isn't it marvelous to know that Reedus is just as human as the rest of us? It’s easy to think of him as this cool and confident guy, but he’s equally able of being nervous under pressure. And, better yet, he found a way to use those nerves to develop Daryl into a really engaging character.
However, as Reedus notes, Daryl is “a much different character now than he was back then”. As Reedus’ confidence has grown, so has Daryl’s. It was interesting to see all that stripped away during Daryl’s grim imprisonment at the hands of Negan last season, and fans around the globe look forward to seeing what happens to the character next.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 22.