‘Walking Dead’ Star Norman Reedus Breaks Down Zombies and Rednecks

Fall TV Guide: 2011
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The second season of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead premieres on Oct. 16,  and Celebuzz caught up with the Norman Reedus, who plays the impulsive, can’t-help-but-love/hate-him redneck Daryl Dixon. We were able to dive into how the show has been changing his life, what fans can expect this season and what it’s like walking around set with some of the scariest zombies to ever get filmed.

So how is production of season two of The Walking Dead going? What can viewers expect this season?

It’s going great. We took the energy from the first season and just quadrupled it. The show goes real dark. You see all of our characters make decisions and take turns transforming their lives. It’s really just action packed and heavy. The first season introduced the world, and this season really just gets into the meat of it. You’ll be stoked.

Now, despite being a hot-tempered redneck, Daryl is a fan favorite on the show. Is he going to stay the same “love to hate him” character, or will he start being a little more open-minded?

 He has moments when he’s very likable, and there are moments when you just wanna smack him upside the head. He’s one of those guys that kinda needs a hug, but if you try to hug him, he’ll probably stab you. You definitely see layers of him. I’ve been trying to play him like he’s just an angry little kid; he’s not very sure in his level of emotions yet. He’s sort of learning as he’s going along.

Why do you think audiences have responded so well to a character that you’d think would be pretty unlikable?

Maybe because he looks cool with a crossbow. You kind of don’t know which way he’s headed. Every single character, you sort of know where they stand and what they’re gonna do next. If there was a crisis situation, you know exactly how they’d react. But with Daryl, I think he’s interesting to watch because you’re not quite sure what he’s gonna do. Although he’s a hot-tempered guy that’s dangerous, he’s also the type of guy that just lost his big brother. So I try to play him with that type of emotion. That’s his last family left, so I try to play him like he’s super sad about that and willing to fight to get him back, not that he’s just ‘kill kill kill’.

Speaking of Daryl’s brother, any chance we’ll get to see Merle again?

You haven’t seen the last of Merle, but I can’t tell you in what capacity.

Fair enough. Can we look forward to seeing any other members of the family?

I was pushing for them, if there was any flashbacks of Daryl’s father… I wanted them to use Ted Nugent. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Definitely! Now, I’ve seen the MacFarlane Toys action figure of Daryl. Have you seen it yet?

I’ve seen pictures of it, and it looks awesome. I’ve had some action figures of me before that are very very bland in comparison to this guy, so I’m excited to have it come out.

How does it feel to have your own action figure?

It’s nice. I’d definitely give it to [my son] Mingus, for sure. Maybe we’ll take it out back with a zippo and melt it. He does look like me, its creepy kind of. They gave him muscles, so I immediately started working out to catch up with the action figure. But it’s cool, I’m really flattered, I want one.

As a lifelong fan of ‘Boondock Saints’, I have to ask – which is more fun, playing a moral guy like Murphy or more of a jerk like Daryl?

You know, The Walking Dead’s my favorite job I’ve ever been on, by far. Boondocks Saints is a blast, I’d like to make ten of those movies, but Daryl’s more complicated. I keep trying to make him more complicated. He’s just somebody that doesn’t know how to deal in a social circle. So I’m trying to have him grow as a person. 

Between Boondock Saints and The Walking Dead, you’ve gotten to use a pretty wide variety of weapons. Which is your favorite?

The crossbow’s good, I gotta admit. It’s fun to shoot a crossbow. The Desert Eagles on Boondock Saints are good, but those are so heavy. I think I ripped my rotator cuff carrying those around. We’ve had some moments and scenes where I’m widdling away, making arrows… its just this crafty cool tool, I really like it.

Did you have to do any sort of weapons training for the role?

They taught me how to use the crossbow, and I practice with it quite a bit. It’s actually very dangerous – if your fingers are in the way of the bow, it’ll break your finger.

As a fan of horror movies, I can say that the zombies in The Walking Dead look really terrifying. Are they as terrifying in person, or have you gotten used to seeing them?

 I’m kinda used to seeing them. But when you’re casually hanging out, and you see one at Crowd Services, making a coffee or smoking a cigarette, you’re kinda like “Hey, how are you?”, but once the scenes going and they sort of act like they’re supposed to act, its easy to tense up and get into the scene. I feel bad for them sometimes, because there’s a lot of makeup, and sometimes the Atlanta heat can be brutal. I remember last year in the last episode, they were actually popping water balloons underneath them as they were laying on the cement. It’s pretty torturous.

Do you let your son watch the show, or is it a little too scary for him?

He’s eleven, turning 12. But he doesn’t want to watch the show, he’s a little freaked out by the zombies. I thought maybe this year, season two, turning twelve, he could sort of watch some stuff. But I don’t think he’s into it yet. But I do know at his school he got some high fives from some of the older kids. I went and picked him up after the first season started airing last year, and he was really proud. I picked him up and he had this big smile on his face. And I said “Why are you smiling so much?” and he said “Some of the big kids in school came up to me at school and said ‘Is your dad on the Walking Dead?’ and I said ‘Yeah’ and they said ‘Yeah, we love him, he’s our favorite character!” and started high fiving him and stuff, so he’s kinda the talk of the school when the show airs. So it’s really cool.

Who would win if your two biggest roles, Murphy from Boondock Saints and Daryl from The Waking Dead, faced off?

Maybe the would just high five each other and go get a drink. They’d probably find some common ground. But Murphy has that sort of divine intervention where he could sort of fall upside down out of a building and hit all of his targets. He has some sort of higher power aiming his gun for him, so maybe Murphy would win. But if it was a zombie apocalypse, Murphy would just freak out.

If there was a zombie apocalypse in 2012, how do you think you would fare in it?

I think I’d do pretty well! I think I’d probably steal a boat. I’d like a flamethrower, that’d be fun. I think I’d be good. If I was in a big city, I’d probably just hide and freak out. It’s the whole idea of disease too, its really scary. It’s not just monsters. I’d probably just hole myself somewhere. I’m not as tough as Daryl.

Are you as excited as we are for season two of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below!