This year’s PaleyFest kicks off Friday night, with a panel celebrating the highest-rated drama in cable television history: The Walking Dead.
Held at the usual PaleyFest venue of the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, the panel consisted of actors Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Norman Reedus (Daryl), Scott Wilson (Hershel) and Emily Kinney (Beth), plus executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, Greg Nicotero and comic book series creator Robert Kirkman; with Talking Dead‘s Chris Hardwick moderating.
The event opened with a look at the first few minutes of this Sunday’s episode — which contains a big Carl moment — plus an extended behind-the-scenes featurette. “Carl is one of my favorite aspects of the comics and the show,” Kirkman said, adding that an important element of both is showing how people grow and change over time; “Characters stepping up and doing different things.”
Kirkman discussed the many differences between the comic book and TV show, saying that as part of the writers’ room, he would be bored if the show was exactly like the Image series; giving him the ability to say, “Hey, this thing I wrote six years ago sucked, let’s do something better.” Kirkman said that the process of working with Charlie Adlard on the comic book really hasn’t changed in recent years, despite the rise of the TV show.
On a similar note, Kirkman said that he doesn’t think characters from The Walking Dead video game will ever make it onto the show, because he likes the ideas of some characters being unique to each world — like Daryl in the TV show — to help make each experience different.
Speaking of Daryl, the always-popular Reedus elicited loud cheers from the crowd every time he spoke, especially when praising the work of Michael Rooker as Merle and discussing a romantic possibility between Daryl and Carol. “I like these two damaged people gravitating towards each other… if it happens, it happens.”
Other highlights: Hardwick explaining the concept of memes to Lincoln; Kinney saying that not knowing when an actor’s role will be killed off is usable for a performance, since it mirrors the position of the characters; Wilson saying filming the scene where Hershel loses his leg was “really a wonderful day;” Holden saying that Andrea is like a friend whose taste in men you can’t understand; and Lincoln joking that reading the comic was beneficial to his performance, “Up until [Kirkman] chopped off my hand and I stopped reading.”
In case you weren’t among the devoted couple thousand in the building, the entire panel is streaming online via Hulu: