Norman Reedus & His Character Daryl Almost Weren’t in ‘The Walking Dead’

Can you picture The Walking Dead without Daryl?

We certainly can’t. That’s why we were surprised to hear that Norman Reedus famous character actually wasn’t a part of the original script. In a new interview with Details, the 46-year-old actor says when he first found out about the now-famous zombie show in 2010, he was heartbroken to learn it had already been cast. “I was like, ‘Just get me in the room. I’ll go in and do a guest spot,’ ” he told the publication. After being asked to read for the character of Merle, Norman says the shows’ producers were so impressed by him, they decided to create a whole new character for him to play on the show, and thus Daryl– Merle’s younger brother– was born.

Best of all, Norman was given a creative hand in forming what his character would be like. “For the first season, we really didn’t know what we were doing with the character, so we’d see what Norman would do, how he’d read a line, how he’d react to something. And that helped inform where we went with Daryl,” says executive producer Robert Kirkman, who also created the comic books.

Now, five years later, we’re sure the people over at The Walking Dead are pretty pleased with their casting choice. These days Daryl’s character is a fan-favorite, but what makes him so likable? Norman says:

“Daryl judges people not just by what they say but what they do. Stand-up people are the only people you can trust in that world, so that makes Daryl a very compassionate person. And that’s one of the reasons that character is popular.”

Season six of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday Oct. 11 on AMC.