Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The cast of The Walking Dead had a hard time filming the emotional season 6 finale. Andrew Lincoln admitted to EW that it was the first time he was ever late to work due to the immense emotional toll, while Lauren Cohan told us she didn’t even want to go to work that final day.

Well, judging by what the cast and crew have teased to us about the way things pick back up in season 7, that cliffhanger finale may seem like rainbows and unicorns by comparison. Jeffrey Dean Morgan told us that filming the premiere amounted to “10 days of hell” because of the intense subject matter, and now the man who directed the premiere — Greg Nicotero — is weighing in as well.

Read on as Nicotero tells us what to expect when things pick back up, including some teases that we will see even more than what takes place in the comic.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You and showrunner Scott Gimple have both been clear that you know you need to deliver the goods with the season 7 premiere to make that cliffhanger pay off, so what are you guys delivering with episode 701?

GREG NICOTERO: Well, I can tell you from the position of the director’s chair, it was by far the most emotional episode that I’ve ever shot. Where we left these characters at the end of season 6 is, they’ve been broken. Their world has literally become smaller and smaller and trapped them, and now they’re in a situation that they’ve never been in before where the cavalry is not coming over the hill. Carol is not going to show up and blow up the propane tank outside of Terminus. These things aren’t going to happen, and it’s just devastating.

So knowing that and being in this situation, these actors who are such fantastic performers, they took themselves to some pretty deep, dark places, and it was intense. It was uncomfortable, and it was raw, and the emotion was real. And having to do take 2 or take 3 or take 4 and watching these people just in sheer agony was not a pleasant experience, to just watch what was happening. But that’s where they needed to go to exhibit the emotion. So it was a really intense…

That must have made for a pretty different vibe in terms of everyone reuniting at the start of a new season.

It’s funny, every season we show up and everybody — Andy, Norman, and Steven, and Lauren — we all show up with the same, like, “Okay, man.” Andy has a great expression, it’s like, “Let’s kick this pig,” because one season we had pigs that got loose around the prison, and we had this whole thing going on that was really funny. So Andy’s favorite expression is, “All right, everybody, let’s get together and kick this pig,” that’s his sort of a way of rallying the troops. And every season we show up and everyone’s champing at the bit to get back to work.

It was different this year, because we knew that we were jumping into it in a very deep, dark, cold place. So it was a different emotion on set, because where we worked ourselves up to for season 6, we began with season 7, and it was really challenging, and it was hard. And the first couple episodes are a bit relentless in that sort of dark place that they really don’t want to go, but we’re going to take you there.

How much more to that scene are we going to see, meaning we get up to the point and we see it all from the victim’s point of view? I have to assume there’s more to that maybe that we’re going to see from that setting.

Yes, without a doubt. And there’s some great drama that stems from that exact moment. Without giving too much away, it’s even more than the comic book, because in the comic book it’s kind of abrupt, and it’s over, and there’s a little, “Okay, I’ll see you guys in a week. We’ll be by to get half our share.” There’s more to it.

For more Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Episode Recaps

The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

  • TV Show
  • 10
  • TV-14
  • Frank Darabont
  • AMC
stream service