Can Walking Dead fans get too much of Norman Reedus? That’s like asking if his zombie-slaying redneck character Daryl Dixon can, well, slay too many zombies. Here at Inside TV, we say “No!” to both questions. Which is why, after Dalton Ross was done yakking with the Boondock Saints star on this week’s podcast, I grilled him further about the second season of the Walking Dead — which premieres on AMC tonight at 9 P.M. ET — working with Lady Gaga, and why Michael Rooker thinks he is a “Poopy pants.”
Entertainment Weekly: What can you tell us about the new season?
Norman Reedus: Well, we really delve into the characters, we really get into back stories. You see certain relationships form. With regards to Daryl, damaged people seem to gravitate towards damaged people, so you see a bit of that. You see a back story on Daryl that explains why he’s so angry. I’ve been saying like, Daryl’s the kind of guy who needs a hug but if you try to hug him, he’ll stab you. And it’s true. A lot of times, the people with a lot of spark are the ones that are the most afraid. Having a big brother like Merle who’s such a hateful, angry person, you grow up emulating your big brother but also wanting to have some sort of other connection. Daryl can handle himself. The problem with Daryl is when other members of the group tell him he’s worth a damn and he’s important and Daryl just doesn’t know how to emotionally cope with those kinds of situations. Besides that, this season just goes dark. It’s soooooo f—ing dark.
I’ve seen the first episode and that is fairly dark.
It gets much darker than that.
Was this year’s shoot in Atlanta as hot as the last one?
It was hotter, I think. Last year, we had those scenes on the roof and those were insanely hot. People were fainting and stuff. This season it was really hot. But I’ve got to tell you, it kind of helps. You’re struggling for your life already so it kind of helps you get in character. Atlanta’s definitely a character in the show. And I have a motorcycle down there, which I adore. Riding in the country on my days off for hours without seeing anybody is kind of heaven.
You used to work in a Harley-Davidson store, right?
I did. I worked at a place called Dr Carl’s Hog Hospital in Venice. I have no idea how to fix a motorcycle. I can take one apart but I still can’t put it back together.
Well, I could take one apart and not put it back together.
I can take it apart real fast.
Your character rides a bike in the Walking Dead. Was that written into the part already?
It was kind of written into the role and then they asked me if I could do it. I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I own two.”
And for once you were telling the truth. I understand when actors are asked at auditions if they can ride horses or whatever they automatically say yes, whether they can or not.
I did a film where I really sucked on a horse and it’s been haunting me ever since. It’s been the joke of every con. So, yes, I wasn’t that good on a horse that day. But I’ve gotten much better. I mean, I rode a horse in the Conspirator…
I wasn’t speaking about you specifically.
You weren’t? Oh, okay. You don’t know how many panels I’ve sat on in front of 2,000 people where they all laugh hysterically at me sucking on a horse. But I’ve gotten better!
You also rode a bike in the video for Lady Gaga’s “Judas.” What was she like to work with?
She’s awesome. I love Gaga, I gotta admit. She’s super cool and her work ethic is something to admire. Because it’s 5 A.M. and that girl is out there dancing with 50 guys, hard as hell. And then they’ll go “Okay, do it with the girls!” And she’s out there just doing it. I can barely keep one eye open. I’m like, “Cane we wrap for the day? I’m about to fall over.” And she’s like, “Dang-danga-dang-danga-dang-danga-dang.” I like Gaga a lot.
You are in fantastic shape on the show.
I’ve gotten in really good shape. It’s easy to lose weight when it’s 120 degree heat. But I’ve been trying to work out to catch up with that little action figure. They gave me huge muscles. So I’m like, “Dammit, that means I have to go to the gym every day.” So I’ve been in the gym trying to catch up with that little doll.
I’m tempted to make a joke about the size of another part of the action figure’s body…
Oh, can you pull it’s pants down?
I haven’t tried.
You know, I saw it real quick. But it’s extremely lifelike, so I should be afraid, actually.
I interviewed a couple of years back when Boondock Saints II came out and you said that Boondock fans often come up and show you tattoos of your face on their arms…
All the time.
…has that happened yet with the Walking Dead?
It hasn’t happened yet. But I have so many Daryl Dixon gifts from people. I’ve gotten tons of paintings in the mail. I’ve gotten tons of different t-shirts. I’ve gotten dolls. I’ve gotten sculptures. I’ve got crochet dolls. I have me dressed as panda bears. It’s insane. I’ve got bumper stickers that say, “If you’re riding my a–, you’d better be Daryl Dixon.” A whole box of those bumper stickers. There’s so much stuff, it’s just insane. I’ve gotten lighters that say like, “Redneck Bada–” on them.
But you’re not a redneck at all, are you?
No. I live in Chinatown in Manhattan! But I did just buy a truck in Georgia and I’m going to put my motorcycle on the back of it and drive to Chinatown. I don’t know where I’m going to park that thing. Yeah, I’ve gotten so much Daryl Dixon love. I assume I’m going to see a tattoo sooner or later. I love it. There’s a group called Dixon’s Vixens. Before that, I had the Boondock Betties and now I’ve got Dixon’s Vixens. It’s awesome. I love it all.
Have you gotten friendly with your Walking Dead brother Michael Rooker? I saw you at a prerelease screening of his film Super.
I’m actually very friendly with Rooker. I was in Los Angeles for the premiere of the first episode of the Walking Dead last weekend and Rooker runs a gun range and he was inviting me to go shoot with Mia. I didn’t go and he wrote me a text. He wrote, “Poopy pants.” Which doesn’t seem very Rooker-ish, does it?
Michael Rooker runs a gun range?
Yeah, he runs a gun range in California. There’s actually video on YouTube of him shooting a tooth out of a zombie target.
Another of your costars Andrew Lincoln is, like myself, a Brit working in America. Have you introduced him to any local past times or customs?
He just had a birthday. I bought him a Red Ryder BB gun.
He’ll shoot his eye out with that!
That’s exactly right! You are so on it. Andy and I have become really tight. We have this little joke on set. Between takes on some some really hard scene, we’ll look at each other and one of us will go, “I love you,” and the other one will go, “F— you!”
You can check out a Walking Dead season two trailer below.