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'Walking Dead': Robert Kirkman on tonight's show

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Tina Rowden/AMC

While tonight’s midseason finale of AMC’s drama The Walking Dead technically belonged in the zombie genre there were times when it looked more like an old school war movie as Rick and his fellow prison-dwellers made their move on Woodbury. “I was there for the filming of this episode,” says Walking Dead executive producer and Walking Dead comic writer Robert Kirkman. “We filmed what I like to call ‘the machine gun scenes’ from two to four in the morning. We got some complaints.”

Below, Kirkman talks more about the show, the cameo by Jon Bernthal, and how long you should date someone before showing them your collection of severed zombie heads.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last things first. You can’t seriously be going on hiatus just as Merle and Daryl are finally reunited in the Zombie-O-Rama Gladiator Arena of Death. We want to know what happens next! It’s almost like you’ve got some devilish plan to leave audiences hungry for more…

ROBERT KIRKMAN: [Laughs]. That’s a new ploy. You do this thing at the end of the show where you leave off at a place where people want to know what happens next. I don’t know what we’re going to call it.

How did the surprise cameo by Jon Bernthal come about?

I’m actually so thrilled that that did not leak. Jon is an amazing guy and the fact that he can keep that stuff buttoned down is really great. When he came off the plane in Georgia, everyone in the airport was like, “Hey, what are you doing here? Are you on the Walking Dead again? What’s going on? Why are you here in Georgia?” And he had to be like, “Oh, no. I’m just visiting some friends.”

We got him to do the cameo but then he had a beard for the Scorsese movie that he’s in (The Wolf of Wall Street) and we couldn’t shave it. So we spent probably a few weeks trying to figure out a way to make that make sense. That was a lot of fun.

This show featured the introduction of Tyreese, who is a beloved character for the comic book. What can you say about him?

One, Chad Coleman is absolutely amazing and has been doing a spectacular job on the show. But Tyreese is a new element, someone who is looking at the zombie apocalypse from a different perspective and, as we will see, he is someone who is maintaining his heart and his integrity and is actually a really good dude. So I’m really excited to try and break him and to do terrible things to him, as we do all the characters in the Walking Dead.

Well, talking about terrible things springing from the mind of Robert Kirkman, what would you say to fans of the comic book who may have been slightly disappointed that Michonne didn’t take down the Governor in a more brutal fashion? I mean, the shard of glass in the eye was nasty but…

That eye gouge scene still gets me. I have a lot of trouble with that. But I think she definitely broke him emotionally by killing Penny, which is not something that she does in the comics. So I think, to a certain extent, it is possible that this is actually a little bit more brutal than that. There is a lot more physical damage done to him in the comic book. But it’ll be a lot of fun exploring this more emotional damage in the show.

When Michonne stabbed the Governor I couldn’t stop myself from shouting “In the eye!” in homage to Rob Riggle saying “In the face!” after Zach Galifianakis gets Tasered in The Hangover.

[Laughs] I love that moment from The Hangover so I take that as a compliment. But, yeah,  because there’s a little bit of digital effects that cleans it up a little bit I’ve watched that scene from the show over and over in a loop and I still wince every time I see it.

Next: “What, you gonna let a body go to waste?”