Now a popular staple of the convention circuit, AMC's "The Walking Dead" hosted its latest panel at New York Comic Con Saturday evening, with Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and more answering fan questions and hinting what's coming up in Season 5, which premieres Sunday.
Chris Hardwick, host of Talking Dead, moderated the panel. "I normally don't watch the episode before we do the show, but I went to the premiere and this episode is mind-blowingly insane," he began.
Showrunner Scott Gimple, series creator Robert Kirkman, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, and premiere director Greg Nicoterro joined Hardwick on stage. After their introductions, Hardwick showed a clip from the premiere. The crowd cheered largely at Daryl's every appearance. Glenn got some love, too.
"This right here? This is the best way to watch it," Hardwick said when the clip ended. "We should get together like this every week."
Gimples said that, though the series takes place mainly in the present, there would be a dip into some characters' pasts, while Nicoterro said that "every emotion you felt in the first four seasons, you will see in this episode" that kicks off season 5.
Kirkman said that "this season is probably going to follow the comics a little more than we have in the past." Gimple added that Nicoterro's notebooks "are full from panels from the series," though they aren't necessarily used in the same place or the same way.
Asked for three words to describe this upcoming season, Hurd offered, "Kickass, utterly relentless, and heartbreking."
With part one debuting tomorrow, Hurd said that the second half of the season would debut on February 8.
Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Sonequa Martin-Green, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohan, Chad Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, and Danai Gurira then came to the stage.
"I think it's safe to say you're meeting a man at the height of his powers; he's just bit a guy's throat out," Lincoln said. "I've loved playing him so far this season."
"It's made me kind of regret killing Shane," Lincoln said. "It's starting to look like he was onto something."
Lincoln said he asked Gimple whether the throat-biting scene might have crossed a line, but "they were about to violate my son - it made complete sense."
Now that Glenn has found Maggie, Yeun said that "Glenn has that thing within him to make it out alive," but his trial has given him hope. "He's been validated; we can strive for hope, we can strive for humanity," he said.
Cohan agreed. "When she actually finds him, it gives a sense of strength to her that anything is possible." "I think it's so important to everyone in this group to find an actionable task," she added, and that the next task may be to find Maggie's sister Beth.
"Every character has had massive, massive loss," Cudlitz said. "And to get to that place, [as actors] you have to feel safe," he said, praising the cast and crew of the show.
Hardwick suggested Cudlitz's character Abraham may be one of the most level-headed on the show, but the actor said, "Really?" Cudlitz added that "the show is driven by hope, and when a character loses hope that's a very dangerous thing."
Gurira said it was "wonderful" to open up Michonne to the character she was at the beginning of her story. "I'm a pretty strong chick, but I'm nothing like Michonne," she said, so it was a rewarding challenge to explore the character's complex emotions.
McBride said people are now shouting "Don't look at the flowers" at her "all the time, even in the grocery store." She said playing Carol has been "the time of my life," giving her character and the series a strong tribute before saying, "if I keep going on I'm going to cry. Because I love her." Reedus handed her a tissue to wipe her eyes, as she genuinely did tear up.
Coleman described his character Tyreese as "noble," with "a big heart," but there was also a cry from the audience of "Damn you hot!" Back on track, though, Coleman said forgiveness was a hard thing for Tyreese to give.
Martin-Greene, who is pregnant, got a shout of "Congratulations!" from the audience, and the actress said that become a mother has driven home the messages of "hope and family and survival and love" that "The Walking Dead" has trafficked in.
Reedus noted that his character Daryl "kills a lot of things but a lot of times he's crying while he does it," making him at once a hardass hero and an emotionally relatable character.
Gimple said that the alternate final line of Season 4 seen on the Blu-ray is the version in the script, but there would have been a blank gap in the line on AMC, making it "You're ____ with the wrong people." "I only did one take with 'screwing,'" Lincoln said. "It says 'fuck' in the script." Hardwick joked that "it's funny how network TV works now, you can show a guy ripping somebody's throat out, but no swearing!"
Yeun said he imagines what Glenn's life would have been like with his sisters, whom the character mentions to Rick early in the series. "I imagine him being the baby of the group," he said, and now sees his role as the big brother he never had the chance to be. His response elicited several "awwws" from the audience.
Asked how he maintains an American accent for the show despite his natural English accent, Lincoln said "I stay in dialect as much as possible" during the seven months of shooting.
Gurira praised a man who shared a story about becoming disabled after helping a woman who was being attacked, who said that the show helped him deal with his memory lapses and other concerns. "What you have told us is not easy to share, and it blesses us, as well," Gurira said.
In response to another fan question, Gurira said she "had to talk myself through the science of zombies" to get to sleep. "Ok, I'm on a higher floor, it can't climb..." and so forth.
Reedus said there is a discussion of "Boondock Saints 3," and it has a "badass" storyline.
The panel concluded with another viewing of the clip.