The Walking Dead has already begun filming on season 8. Making the event even more special is the fact that the season premiere marks the show’s 100th episode. When we spoke to Andrew Lincoln recently, the star talked about how he was “genuinely more excited about this next episode and the following 15 than I’ve ever been in my life.” And showrunner Scott M. Gimple hinted that the material coming up would be “a bit more kinetic, a bit more breakneck.”
But now that they’re actually filming, what the heck is going on down there? Co-executive producer Denise Huth was kind enough to be our eyes and ears and call Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) from the Senoia, Georgia, set of the landmark 100th episode to share her thoughts on what’s happening and what it all means, and you can now hear the entire chat below on the EW Morning Live podcast, along with the following transcript featuring highlights from the conversation.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You all are filming the 100th episode. You’ve been there for all of them. What does this mean for you and your team?
DENISE HUTH: It’s kind of surreal in a way. Back when we started, we never imagined we’d make it to 100 episodes. It seemed like such a far-off goal, it was hard to even contemplate at that time — we just wanted a second season. It’s a huge compliment, the fact that we’ve been able to grow the story and grow the show and very year it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. This year, that’s certainly the case as well. And add on top of it that our season premiere for season 8 happens to be the 100th episode, it makes it a really exciting way to come back. The energy here is really good. Everybody is super-pumped up and it’s particularly exciting coming off of last year where the season premiere last year was a total 180 energy-wise. It was really tough way to start the season and this year is a really exciting way to start.
At what point did someone there do the math and realize that episode 100 would be your season 8 premiere?
I think sometime during season 6 we did the math and put the numbers together and realized that episode 801 would be the 100th episode. But it doesn’t really change the overall storytelling. Certainly, there’s a thought of that and I’m sure [showrunner] Scott Gimple thought about it when he was writing this episode. But it’s also just naturally the way the story’s being told, and the fact that this is the start of the war, it worked out very well. Fate was kind to us that this was the episode we have for the 100th episode.
Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lennie James, and others all talked pretty openly about how difficult last season was to film because the characters were all separated and really depressed and having to take crap from this Negan dude. How much more fun is it to film now as we head into the “All Out War” arc from the comics?
Oh, gosh, it’s like night and day compared to how we had to start last year. They all came back so super excited and it’s a big year. These episodes are coming in huge. It’s a lot of work. It’s just as hard as it’s ever been, if not harder. There’s just a sense of excitement because the characters aren’t in that dark, down place. It was really hard last year. It was hard for the cast, it was hard for the crew, it was hard for all of us. It was a really essential part of the story, and I think we needed to go through that pain to have what we’re doing now be so satisfying. If everything we are doing now had happened in the third or fourth episode last year, it would still be cool, but it wouldn’t have the impact now because we’ve all had to trudge through the mud to get here. So it’s great.
The energy is just incredible with the cast being together, and for a lot of these actors, it’s the first time or one of the first times they’re having the opportunity to work together because they were so split up last year. So it is exciting for us to integrate a lot of the newer characters with the OGs and see them all come together and take on this one challenge that they share. It makes it a really, really exciting way to begin a season.
Are you worried about catching up to the comics and going neck and neck with it?
There’s no telling with Scott and the writers and the things that they’ll pull. I don’t think we will really, totally catch-up. I think [comic creator Robert Kirkman] will always stay ahead of us, and Scott likes to take a lot of detours. So we always have that roadmap to follow and we know generally where we going to get to, but he introduces a lot of things that don’t exist in the comics, like the Scavengers and Heaps, and finds a way to integrate those elements into Robert’s existing story. People ask me all the time how long the show’s going to go. I have no idea. But Robert is nowhere near done with the books so I think it would be quite some time before we were in danger of catching up to him.
You can’t tell us what is happening in the premiere, but give us a few adjectives to describe what fans are going to see.
It’s a ton of action. It’s super exciting. I think it will be really, really satisfying. As a fan of the show — and I am a fan of the show — when I read it, it was like “Awww, I can’t wait! It’s going to be great!” It’s worth the worth the wait to get to this moment.
Listen to the entire interview above — right after our chat with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Doug Liman about their new film The Wall, and before our talk with the latest eliminated Survivor contestant. Or subscribe on iTunes to listen on the go. And for more EW Morning Live podcast news, follow us on Twitter @EWMLPodcast.