I was at Miller Union a few weeks ago and they said they’d hosted a dinner for the cast because that’s what you do every time a character is killed off. That must be tough. And it all started in the writers’ room.
Reedus: It sucks. And not only that, the writers of that episode will be on set. And if they’re responsible for killing off one of your friends, you’re not like, “Hey great to see you”; it’s just: “Dick.” When certain characters die, their storyline could have gone on. You think, God, if they’d kept that character alive a little bit longer, you could have got so much rich story out of that person. But like life, if everyone is at the end of their story when they die, it’s not as interesting.
Lincoln: That’s a really good point. I’ve seen a lot of big movies recently and there’s no jeopardy. You know they’re going to make it. There’s an elaborate chase sequence or battle sequence—and no one dies. So I agree. There’s something incredibly interesting about when someone in your life, for real, gets taken away from you. It changes you, irrevocably. In those scenes, when you talk about the dead, it’s the easiest thing in the world to act that, because you have history with these people, and so does the audience.
Reedus: It helps that we shoot where we shoot. Out in the woods in our own little bubble, it’s just us. We’re so tight down there. I don’t think you could ever do the show again like this. It’s lightning in a bottle for all of the right reasons.
It kind of broke my heart to see Merle [Daryl’s brother, played by Michael Rooker] die.
Reedus: Me too. Rooker is a tornado of a man. He’s somebody who brought a lot to the show. There was an unpredictability about him that kept all of us on our toes all the time. You’d put a wall around him and he’d just bounce off of them. It was a drag saying goodbye to him. Rooker is different. He’s the Tasmanian Devil.
Do you finally get to smile this season?
Lincoln: [Grins] Yes, I do. This season starts in a different place. The writers have been really smart. They’re dialing it back in and beginning again. It’s almost like you’ve got this new civilization. Rick has renounced leadership and has taken up pig farming.For real? A gentleman pig farmer?
Lincoln: I don’t know about that. It doesn’t go that well. There was one day where I was up close with these little piglets—
Reedus: Best day ever.
Lincoln: —and it was me, him, and five little piglets. One called Chaps, because it had black legs. One called Bandit, with two black eyes. Very cute little pigs. Two other ones with the unfortunate names Pork and Chop. They were very quiet. But my personal favorite was the runt of the litter called Truffle. Beautiful little pig. [Pause] It’s a real shame what happened to it. No, no, no! No animals were harmed during the filming of this.How many wardrobe changes do you go through?
Lincoln: None. We wear the same shit. I’ve worn the same boots. They’re falling off my feet. I have one pair and they don’t know what to do. They’ve been resoled six times. If I haven’t had two resolings in one season I haven’t been working hard enough.
All of these shops you can plunder in the zombie apocalypse but nobody gets decent clothes.
Reedus: We’re not trying to impress each other with our new fashionable clothing.
Lincoln: Yeah, I don’t think it’s their first thought. Of course, practical footwear is.
Reedus: We’re all in New Balance sneakers. We’re all in Gucci one day.
Lincoln: There are more pressing issues, like staying alive.
So how long can this go on?
Reedus: At least another week. [Both men laugh]
Maybe that’s a joke I’ll get in a few months.
Reedus: As long as the writing is there and the desire and enthusiasm are there, it’ll go on for a long time. I’d be Daryl Dixon till I’m eighty-five years old.
Lincoln: If he’s still in it and I’m still in it, I’ll keep doing it.
There’s a possibility of you losing a hand to the Governor [Rick’s antagonist]. That’s what happens in the book. Could Rick die?
Lincoln: That’s one of the strengths of the show. No one is safe. That’s hopefully why people tune in each week, to make sure their favorite character does stay alive. There is real jeopardy. I love that. It’s one of the cruelest parts of the job, as we’ve said before. You have to say goodbye to your friends. But if my time is up and it serves the story, I will go, but I’ll go kicking and screaming.
Reedus: They’ll have to drag my ass out by my hair. And then I’ll probably burn the place down. And I’d keep showing up every day anyway.
Lincoln: It’s funny. My job is to serve my character in the scripts that I’m given. I just read two scripts, both of which I’m not in. And I think they’re the greatest episodes we’ve ever had. There’s a depth to it. Character pushes story this season a lot more. We’ve got a very good combination of great storytelling and action sequences. Glenn [Mazzara, last season’s showrunner] did a magnificent job pushing the pace and making it a thrill ride. Now we’ve got this collision of those two things. It’s a different season. There’s more space in it. There’s still action, but it feels like we’re jumping off into another depth. We’re going into deeper, more terrifying waters.
Reedus: Interesting you said “space.” You’re so right. The show started off, and there was a hyperventilating energy to it. Then it got even more frantic. Then it started to breathe. Now it’s starting to branch out internally. It’s about the stories of these characters in this zombie world. How can you keep that interesting? We’re on the inside reading scripts, going, “Holy s--t, did you read that?”
Lincoln: The latest script I just read, I couldn’t sleep.
This is one you’re not in?
Lincoln: Yeah. We’re both not in it.
Should we be worried about this?
Reedus: Yes. You should always be worried.
Lincoln: If you notice, I have a beard in the show.
But there was a bit more to it. It was fuller [than today].
Reedus: That’s what he’s saying.
Lincoln: That’s what I’m saying. What does that mean?
Reedus: Where’s your beard?
Lincoln: “Where’s your beard?” Where’s my hand? What’s going on?
Reedus: What’s going on?