The hugely popular series The Walking Dead had a hugely populated panel at San Diego’s Comic-Con this year. Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick moderated the panel, which was so huge he had to do it in two sections. It started with the series producers: Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Dave Alpert, Gale Anne Hurd, and Greg Nicotero, who answered questions about what to expect in Season 7. Then the cast took the stage, including series regulars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Josh McDermitt, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin-Green, Christian Serratos, Ross Marquand, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The Walking Dead Returns for Season 7
Season 7 of The Walking Dead is scheduled to premiere on October 23 and will consist of 16 episodes. The premiere episode was written by showrunner Scott Gimple and directed by producer Greg Nicotero. Robert Kirkman assured the fans at comic-con that the Season 7 premiere will be worth the wait.
Season 6 gave us a larger worldview with Alexandria and the Hilltop, as well as Negan’s territory. Producer Gale Anne Hurd promised that the worldview would be further expanded in Season 7, including “some interesting non-human characters.” Scott Gimple revealed that Carol and Morgan are at the Kingdom, and the preview showed us a glimpse of King Ezekiel and his tiger Shiva. Hurd noted that Season 7 will showcase different types of leadership styles, some benevolent and others less so.
The special effects crew of The Walking Dead still gets excited to come up with new looks for the walkers. Nicotero showed the audience pictures of some of the walkers that viewers will see this season. One walker they referred to as “Hitchcock” because his eyes were pecked out and lips eaten away by birds.
An Emotional Cliffhanger Finale
When the cast came onto the stage, the final member was Jeffrey Dean Morgan who entered carrying Negan’s baseball bat Lucille. Andrew Lincoln (Rick) later commented about Morgan: “Can I just point out that he’s having way too much fun playing this dude.” Morgan made his first appearance in The Walking Dead in the controversial Season 6 finale.
There was a lot of discussion about the Season 6 finale. Christian Serratos (Rosita) described the episode as an incredible bonding moment that was a pivotal growing experience for her as an actor. She explained a moment like that can only happen because the cast really trusts each other. Lauren Cohan (Maggie) talked about how physically and emotionally demanding the scenes were to film. Steven Yeun (Glenn) talked about the scene with Negan from the perspective of a fan of the comic books:
“This moment is iconic and however it happens, it’s such a great moment. And when we led up to it, to see all the components that were happening and to see Negan in the flesh is awesome, to know that from here on out that there’s going to be an opening to just thrust the show further. For me as a fan and a participant it’s probably just one of the coolest things ever.”
With such an emotional cliffhanger, viewers are anxious to learn the identity of Negan’s victim. Lincoln told the audience that return of The Walking Dead will be intense. He assured fans that despite the tough start to Season 7 to hang in there because “we’re heading towards one of the greatest showdowns that we’ve had in the show since Terminus.”
Danai Gurira (Michonne) talked about how the growing relationship with both Carl and Rick over Seasons 5 and 6 helped Michonne to gradually open up. She added, “I think it’s awesome it took as long as it did because it developed a complex connection” while allowing her to work through the walls she had put up in response to her own pain.
Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) shared the impetus behind Abraham ending his relationship with Rosita and starting one with Sasha. Now that Abraham believes there is a future, he has to go with his heart (Sasha) rather than convenience (Rosita). Cudlitz summarized Abraham’s evolution when he said, “He’s reminded that there’s are things that are worth not only dying for, but living for.”
Fun on Set
Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) talked about the pranks that he and Andy Lincoln play on each other, even providing a clip of a prank involving glitter.
Chris Hardwick noted how cruel it was to use glitter for a prank because it’s “like clown herpes – it never goes away.” Lincoln tried to use the element of surprise to get back at Reedus by blowing glitter in his face during the panel. But the prank went bad, and Lincoln managed to get most of the glitter all over his own beard.
At the request of Chris Hardwick, Ross Marquand (Aaron) regaled the audience with his Harrison Ford impression. Marquand shared that on set he and Michael Cudlitz, who does a Sylvester Stallone impression, played out scenes from Rocky.
Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) said she and Michael Cudlitz got close after spending so much time together in the car. She was still nursing and pumping breast milk every couple hours and he would help take care of her. It’s not all fun and support on set. Chandler Riggs (Carl) talked about the challenges of acting with a bandage over his eye.
In Comic-Con fashion, many of the panel attendees came dressed as The Walking Dead characters. Among those who asked questions there was a Daryl Dixon, a tiny Negan, and a walker advocating for zombie rights. Josh McDermitt (Eugene) talked about how both men and women like to cosplay as Eugene. Ne noted that some dress as him hiding behind a bookshelf watching Abraham and Rosita. Serratos also gets excited by the cosplay of her fans:
“There’s a few Latina comic book characters that are written, but not many that have been put on a big screen or small screen. So it’s just really exciting that I see so many latinas that come up to that to say how excited they are to have a really strong woman that they can dress up as. So that makes me really proud and I hope that I get to keep portraying this really strong woman for as long as I can.”
Below you can watch the full SDCC panel of The Walking Dead.