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The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus says Daryl never forgives himself

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Gene Page/AMC

Steven Yeun has come out and said Daryl should not be blamed for Glenn’s death on The Walking Dead, but there may be one key person who disagrees with that — Daryl himself. For all the talk about Daryl Dixon’s badassery, the true key to the character lies in his emotional vulnerability, and after an event like this — where Negan killed Glenn after Daryl stepped out of line and struck him to protect Rosita — you can bet that he will be hurting.

We spoke to Norman Reedus to get some scoop on what Glenn’s death means for Daryl going forward, and unsurprisingly, the forecast is bleak.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After watching Daryl’s role in what happened to Glenn in the premiere, I’m really worried for that dude’s psyche going forward. Knowing him, he’s gonna blame himself for what went down, right?

NORMAN REEDUS: He goes into a very dark place. He completely takes the weight of that and just carries that with him. He never forgives himself and he takes full responsibility. Although the thing is, Daryl didn’t say “Oh if I do this, they’ll kill Glenn.” Nobody knows what’s going to happen with that guy with the bat. Nobody knows anything. But what he was doing was protecting Rosita. Negan had that bloody bat, waving it in her face, yelling at her, and it’s right in front of my face too. We were right next to each other. And he was picking on Rosita and Daryl stood up for her and he stood up for Abraham. The outcome of that, nobody knew that was going to happen.

[Jeffrey Dean Morgan] and I were joking in the car coming to Talking Dead, and I was like “Man, I hope people don’t think it’s my fault. I’ll catch a lot of flack for that.” No one had ever said that to me before. No one was like, “You’re gonna get it! We blame you.” I was thinking of it, and the characters don’t blame me or anything like that, but Jeffrey was teasing because he was saying people were going to hate him so he was joking that he was going to be like, “I’m just gonna tell them it’s your fault.” And I was like, “Don’t even think about it! It’s a mistake. You do it on Talking Dead in front of 10 million people, everybody starts to think it now!”

So he was kind of apologizing for it. But the truth is that whole group on that show would have done anything to protect any of us, and that guy’s crazy with the bat. The weight of Glenn’s death is going to weigh on Daryl heavily, I know it does. He gives up, he loses the fight, he’s keeping to himself, whatever’s happening to him, he thinks he deserves it. He’s going to let it happen, which is crushing. To take somebody wild like that — a wild, pure, honest fighter like that — and just strip him of his desire to fight back or fight for anything, it’s crushing.

And you can see that. When Negan takes him, it’s like, “I’m going to break this wild animal and just completely crush his spirit.”

We shot that where they’re filming the back of the van, and I bounced all over that van. I was bouncing all over the place, like they just threw this wild animal into a cage and he’s just freaking out right now. There’s a lot of audio that didn’t make the cut, but it was terrifying. I remember they threw me in the back of the van, and I’m looking over at Rick and I’m trapped in the van, Rick just starts bawling. It was such a dramatic moment. It’s heartbreaking from here on out for Daryl.

It looks like the whole group, except maybe for Maggie, is broken and ready to fall in line — at least for a little bit. 

It’s a different season now. We’ve never not been in control or at least thought we were in control. You have to break down heroes to see them turn into bigger heroes. Hopefully those heroes make it and hopefully those heroes find their way back to the type of people that fight for freedom and fight for their friends. It’s just a different season. It’s uplifting and it’s heartbreaking all at the same time, it’s a very emotional ride this year. It’s a very bold move, but the payoff is really big.

It’s easy to give everybody what they want every time we do it, just give them the same old thing. But it’s a very gutsy, brave move to push the show forward, and you have to push the show forward. We’ve always been a breathing animal. This show’s always been on the move and that’s what keeps it fresh and what keeps people interesting and interested. We’re on the right path. It’s really a heavy season this year. I think Andy [Lincoln] should be nominated. Just watching that first episode, he’s killing it this year. He does some great, great stuff for the rest of the year. He’s really, really taking the bull by the horns on this show.

Check out our new Walking Dead cover of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. And subscribe now to receive a free Walking Dead tote! For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.