Courtesy of Jason from The Walking Dead ‘Cast podcast, CBR presents highlights from a recent interview with showrunner Glen Mazzara discussing the events of the AMC drama leading up to the midseason finale, including the standout performances of Sarah Wayne Callies and Chandler Riggs.
“I think Sarah’s work this year has been her best on the show,” Mazzara said. “I think she’s been absolutely fantastic. She really delivered and she’s just so fantastic. Chandler needs to be recognized. Look at those three performances there by Lauren, Sarah and Chandler and then Andrew Lincoln afterwards. Incredible work. It’s easy to forget Chandler’s a young man, but last year everybody was making jokes — ‘Carl, stay in the house’ — and when we started the beginning of this season, I said Carl’s a child soldier, that’s not the question now, but now what this character’s doing is running around the prison, saving Tyreese, locking him up, puts down his own mom — that’s just the strength of Chandler’s talent. He’s an incredible young actor.”
Beyond the performances of the show’s cast, Mazzara also addressed one of the more controversial issues of the season — the death and replacement of African-American characters on the show.
“I think we’ve killed off many, many different characters,” Mazzara said. “Last year, we killed Dale and Shane and Randall in back-to-back episodes. So, we had not killed — as far as I know — a black man until T-Dog’s death. I don’t think we had. I think there was one guy outside the bar in “Trigger Finger,” a red-shirt of the week who got his face eaten. We killed T-Dog and we gave him a death. That was nothing to do with that character’s race; it was just a regular zombie attack.
“Now, we’ve killed Oscar. Part of the thing about killing this character is, we needed the Governor to have some — it didn’t feel plausible if there was a shoot-out in which no one was killed from Rick’s side,” he continued. “It felt fake. Unfortunately, Oscar got it. If it wasn’t Oscar, it would have been one of the others, but we weren’t prepared to kill those characters at that time. I think in that particular case, when that character was cast, Vincent Ward came in and he was the best actor for that role, so we gave it to him. Unfortunately, as we got into the story, we had to kill off that character.
“I could just point to that and just say it’s timing. I could say it was timing and that it was unfortunate timing, let’s say. I guarantee that over the life of ‘The Walking Dead,’ we are going to continue to kill characters of all types. We killed a pregnant woman. We have killed three little girls now, brutally. So, this particular issue has been singled out, but I can say in all honesty that I believe we’re equal opportunity killers on ‘The Walking Dead.’ We’re killing everybody. If there was some clumsy timing on my part, that’s not what was intended and I thank the fans for pointing that out. … I will say that right now, we have three, I think, interesting, well-defined African American characters on the show. Tyreese, Michonne and Sasha, Tyreese’s sister. Let’s see what happens.”
For one of the major scenes of this season, Lori’s death and Carl’s reaction, Mazzara pulled from personal experience — specifically, the passing of his own mother earlier this year. The showrunner spoke briefly about his process in drawing from personal events for the show.
“I think there are certain types of writers that draw on their personal experience. There are others that don’t,” he said. “The question is why do you become a writer? You become a writer to have some type of artistic expression; to put yourself out there and all you can do is either mine your observations or mine your own life or both. One of the things that I think is important in anything that I write is to try to make it feel honest and make it feel real and try to put yourself into that world.”
“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC February 10.