AMC’s The Walking Dead is nearly here. As we prepare for the living embodiment of Robert Kirkman’s fantastic graphic novel we here, at Mania had a chance to sit down with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Rick and Lori were incredibly open about their experience with the making of the comic. The possibility of the series running for ten seasons and what challenged them as an actor in a zombie wasteland.
Mania: What was your approach to the source material?
Sarah Wayne Callies: I was going to read just the first comic to get a sense of the character. Between my first and second audition I got to the end of it and said to my husband, can you watch the kids for the half hour? I went right back to the comic book store. I cleared the whole shelf off and got relatively hooked pretty quickly. To be honest, I saw a lot that I wasn’t involved with in playing Lori that I wanted to talk to Frank [Darabont] about. How do we connect her sharp edges to the parts of which we haven’t seen in the comic? It will help me to flesh her out more and give us some deviations in the character.
Andrew Lincoln: I read the scene through and you wouldn’t have known it was a zombie piece. Then, I got the script and thought it was brilliant. It was like nothing I had ever read before. I then went to the comic book store and started reading and couldn’t believe it. It was the most extraordinary world of characters I had ever read. I wanted in.
Mania: What is it like to get that kind of material in your hand, in comparison to similar work that has been put out there?
Andrew Lincoln: It is like nothing I have ever been involved with or seen. Everyday we go to work and it is like a cinematic film is occurring. For that reason alone it is brilliant because it puts you into a different place. It is great to be around that care and that attention.
Sarah Wayne Callies: It is great to do something so utterly new. It is so rare. Especially with television right now and the economy is bad. It is a fear driven industry. There is a lot of reproduction and doing what works. That is all fantastic and I love watching it. As an actor to do something that feels like we could end up flat on our faces in the mud or be on top of the mountain; that kind of risk is really exciting. Given how hard the work is, it is exhausting, we rather work on something that has a sense of a new collaborative creation. That is why so many really talented and exciting artists are pitching in.
Mania: Where do you draw the line between the character in one medium and the other? Where do you take a character that already has its path laid out for it?
Andrew Lincoln: I just want to make it as real and as truthful as this script was. It is a difficult one because obviously you have a responsibility to the fan base. Which everyone wants to appease. I stress the word appease. All I do is turn up and do the most truthful thing I can do and that’s it. The rest isn’t my responsibility.
Sarah Wayne Callies: I don’t think the fans want us to do the story boards that are in the comic. This fan base strikes me as really intelligent and really engaged in the story. I can only image that they would want us to fully invest. Even if that means some of the edges and corners are a little bit different than what they started out as. That is probably the best service we can give them.
Mania: What is the one thing that challenged you as an actor on The Walking Dead?
Andrew Lincoln: It is a love a story about a man searching for his wife. There is a quote that I always think of when I think of Rick, “A hero is a man who doesn’t even care”. That is what I always keep thinking and everything costs this man. He is not your archetype of hero. Everything takes its cost and he knows nothing more. There is nothing more gratifying than playing someone who changes through time.
Mania: Robert Kirkman has always said he never wants to the comic to end. Are you prepared for 5 or 10 years on the same series?
Andrew Lincoln: (laughs) I’m not even considering that. I am the walking dead (laughs). I am just trying to get through today and tomorrow. We are still in the middle of filming and it is one of the most exciting jobs I’ve ever been involved in. I don’t want it to finish. It is physically and emotionally brutalizing. It feels like a real work out in the best possible way. It is every actor dream for these kinds of rolls. I don’t want it to end. I’m working with the greatest people I have ever worked with, cast and crew. Ten years (laughs)? It feels like we are just scratching the surface of the graphic novel as well. Yes, if it goes the way we hope it does, then long live it. Long live The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead premieres on AMC on October 31st, 2010. Check out the official site for more details, video and on set photos. Don't forget to check out our prior interview with stars Laurie Holden and Emma Bell and producer Gale Anne Hurd.
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.