The dead are truly about to rise as Robert Kirkman’s comic book comes to life on AMC on October 31st. This is not your typical zombie movie. First of all it is a TV series that will hopefully, like Kirkman’s comic, dive deeper into the characters than just slaughtering hordes of the undead.
Mania had the chance to catch up and chat with several members of the cast. First out are Laurie Holden (The Mist, Silent Hill) and Emma Bell (The Bedford Dairies) who play sisters in Andrea and Amy respectively. It was evident to us that their bond is very strong and a good sign for the show. However, we were quick to ask them who is the better zombie killer. As well as how the fans will react, initially, to a character that is not the warrior we have all come to love and respect.
Mania: Did either of you dive into the comic book to see what happens to either of your characters?
Emma Bell: We all kinda of got the comic book, I read all of them up until the last one to come out. I actually became a pretty big fan of it. I think they are really well written and totally lend themselves to a TV show. It is just so perfect for the small screen. They are pretty good about following it with some deviations here and there.
Laurie Holden: There are deviations in the show and people who love the comic will notice. You don’t want to say exactly the same thing as the graphic novel because we have been there and done that. We take some creative liberties and case in point this little munchkin [Emma] is still alive. So you don’t know who’s gonna pass. Just because technically you die in the comic book doesn’t mean you are going to die in the series. If you are going to die it may not happen until season two or three.
Emma Bell: Or the tenth.
Mania: One thing that Robert Kirkman said about the series is that he never wanted it to end. How do you feel about that in relationship to an ongoing TV series?
Laurie Holden: It is still going and I am very grateful because Andrea is still alive.
Emma Bell: Yep and she is one of the last original survivors.
Laurie Holden: I am very grateful for that.
Mania: As actresses that take over roles that exist in other mediums how do you find the balance between what they [audience] expect and where you want to take the character?
Emma Bell: Luckily for me, playing Amy, there wasn’t a lot about Amy in the comic book. I had a lot of creative leeway. I knew the fundamentals. I knew we [her and Andrea] had each other. They were sisters and that our parents knew we were on a road trip. We got taken in by Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn). That’s pretty much all I really knew about her so I got to build on that. What I found really interesting about Laurie and I, while we were shooting, is we were bonding as individuals as we were bonding as characters…
Laurie Holden: That we are the same person.
Emma Bell: We have a lot in common.
Laurie Holden: We have the same exact birthday.
Emma Bell: (smiles) Isn’t that weird? Anyway, that bond totally came out in our characters. Many people have said that when we are on camera and don’t have lines that we are those characters, Amy and Andrea. You build a foundation with one another and you just work on that.
Laurie Holden: For me, I had a lot of creative license because I think about how people know Andrea in the comic book and that is not how she is now. In the comic book she is in a cute little sweater, hanging out with her sister, and oh look I can shoot a gun. It is very happy and light. You know Andrea as this warrior and we are not to the warrior yet. There is this opportunity to explore the love of the sisters and some of her softer side. She has a lot of toughness to her. She is a strong entity but I was given a lot of creative latitude to make a full person.
Mania: Fans are anticipating the warrior woman, are you expecting any kind of shock from that?
Laurie Holden: No, because of the way she was introduced in the comic she was just a little bit more put together. Her hair was pretty and she was all like “hey sis”. She was happier in the beginning; there just wasn’t a lot of it. Trust me; I am not a happy camper. Andrea is a very complicated person but she has a sense of humor. She has a vulnerability and she is still tough. The difference is you are not going to see me in fatigues with my pony tail and strapping a gun to my arm in the first six episodes. If we did then where would we start? You have to have a place to go.
Emma Bell: The first six episodes literally take, three days at the camp. That’s the entire first season. We have been comparing it to 24. In each episode a lot things happen but not a lot of time has passed. Yes, her character does hardened, but we are not anywhere near that.
Mania: What was the casting process like for you two? Did you have to read scenes together to show that bond?
Laurie Holden: I’ve worked with Frank [Darabont] on two other collaboration (The Majestic and The Mist) so I was very lucky, just like Jeff DeMunn, he approached me and said “you’re my Andrea would you play this?”. I was very, very lucky. I think he wanted to find a younger actress that looked like me…
Emma Bell: When I was auditioning for it no one was cast. The role wasn’t Amy it was just girl at camp. Because it was Frank and Gale [Anne Hurd], I was like whatever, I’ll audition for an extra or whatever you want. I just want to be on this project. I had like two lines, they called me for the call back. I read Lori’s lines and obviously I knew I wasn’t going to be up for Lori because she is a mother. I had no idea I was auditioning for Amy until two and half months later when I got the call that said I was perfect for Amy.
Laurie Holden: (laughs) I knew you were cast long before you did.
Emma Bell: Really?
Mania: What is it that the two of you are looking forward to most from the comic in the TV series?
Laurie Holden: The character development. We work with some great actors. We have a lot of great writers working around us. Whenever they write a scene where we can interact with one another and we see a little bit of humanity and it just opens up their heart. Those are the moments I am looking forward to.
Emma Bell: I have agree but I want to add because we all live and work in this camp for real, the bonding that goes on between people is really powerful. So when you do shoot those big action scenes and we are attacked it is pretty surreal to look around and see people crying or getting flipped out and you realize that these are my people, that this is my family. It is great when we do those because you think we must be doing something right, because in those other scenes you feel disconnected from each other.
Mania: What’s it like working with Zombies?
Emma Bell: You mean those poor people that have to be in the Zombie make-up? They are doing well. They have the hardest job on set I think, because they have to be in those costumes and make-up and it looks hot.
Mania: It looks good.
Emma Bell: Oh my gosh, it looks so good. [Greg] Nicotero is obviously just amazing. He has out done himself yet again with all these wonderful, wonderful zombies. They are really good.
Mania: So who is the better Zombie killer?
Laurie Holden: Between the two us?
Emma Bell at this point quickly points to herself.
Laurie Holden: Yeah but I am older. I got a few years on her and if I am not the better zombie killer then I got to be doing something seriously wrong. I gotta protect her.
The Walking Dead premieres on AMC on October 31st, 2010. Check out the official site for more details, video and on set photos.
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Recently Robert has interviewed Batman himself Kevin Conroy and discussed Star Wars and Toys with Clone Wars director Dave Filoni.