By Amy West
The Walking Dead fans were left shocked last summer, when AMC revealed that the next chapter of the post-apocalyptic horror would be its last. By the time the announcement came, actors Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride – who play Daryl Dixon and Carol Peletier, respectively – had already been told they would be fronting a future spin-off, but that didn’t make the news any less “bittersweet.”
With six new ‘bridge’ episodes set to air over the next few weeks, and a supersized season 11 still to come later this year, the end isn’t exactly nigh. Reedus, though, says it’s already “surreal” to think about the show he’s been a part of since 2010 wrapping for good.
“It’s been such a huge part of our lives in every way you can imagine, he says. “It’s wild. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I come here for a while and shoot the show, then go back to my life.’ It’s been the dictating factor in my life. It’s a whole thing. We’ve had so many friends come and go, I have a love affair with Georgia now… My cat loves it here.”
All he can wish now is that the series “goes out big” – something that seems fairly likely, fortunately, given that it’s never been afraid to shake things up by having its lead actor depart mid-season or kill off fan-favourite characters.
“I feel like we owe it to ourselves and the fans of the show and the crew and everybody to do that. Not just like saying goodbye,” Reedus adds, while doing a half-hearted wave. “But more like, it just kicks off.
“I’m curious as to how it’s going to end because that dictates how the spin-off starts. I want to feel like it’s going out on an 11, not a two, you know… Like shot out of a cannon.”
As it stands, Reedus and McBride know next to nothing about Carol and Daryl’s adventures beyond The Walking Dead, but they promise it’s “going to be something very different” than what viewers are used to seeing from the pair.
“What excites me is sitting in the curiosity of what’s to come… and with the hopefulness of what it might be, the hopefulness of it being hopeful,” explains McBride, before noting that Carol and Daryl aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now. Back in season 10, the former – still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her adoptive son Henry – accidentally put Daryl’s friend Connie (Lauren Ridloff) in danger during a cave in which, in turn, caused her to be separated from the group.
Having bested Beta (Ryan Hurst) and the rest of the Whisperers alongside one another in ‘A Certain Doom’, it appeared as if the duo were ready to start building up the trust between them again. But it’s probably going to be a slow process, says McBride.
“I really want Carol to find Connie. I think that would make some things right and get [her] in good graces with Daryl again… her buddy. I would hate for the spin off to be about them, you know, hating each other and trying to get away from one another. Although that would be fun, maybe,” she laughed.
Whatever the status of their onscreen relationship going into the spin-off is, Reedus is already relishing the fact that he gets to continue working with McBride.
“She’s honest and great and there’s nothing fake about her. We kinda hit it off right away,” he gushes, recalling the first time their characters properly interacted back in season one.
“[Carol] was killing [her abusive husband] Ed and I kept handing [Melissa] the pickaxe with more and more blood on it, and she was very playful with it in a ‘Don’t f**k with me’ kinda way. I was like, ‘I like this girl.’
“I always knew if I was in a scene with Melissa that if I just followed her lead, it would be great and we’ve got to a point where we don’t really need to over-rehearse. We don’t have to find the trust to do the thing, so it makes it kinda effortless,” concludes Reedus. “I can feel very comfortable going into the most uncomfortable scenes with her because there are no walls built up. The friendship is real, so the scenes come out real.”