Saying Goodbye to Glenn
The Walking Dead cast and crew consider themselves a family. It sounds cheesy, I know, but anyone that has been on set can attest to the fact this is a uniquely close group. Perhaps it is the working conditions — filming out in the sticks of Georgia in temperatures that can push 100 degrees— that bonds them. Perhaps it is the subject matter of the show — so heavy that the group can’t help but come together. Or perhaps it is just because they got lucky by having a collection of supremely cool and down-to-earth individuals who legitimately enjoy each other’s company.
Whatever the reason, they do seem to care deeply for one another and have no problem showing it. With Steven Yeun’s Glenn being killed off the show in the season 7 premiere, we went to the people who know him best — costars Lauren Cohan, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, as well as creator Robert Kirkman, and executive-producer/director Greg Nicotero — to get their personal thoughts and fondest memories on working with the fan favorite.
Lauren Cohan on Steven Yeun
“Steven brought me on to the show. He’s the first person that I hung out with. The day I got there, Steven, Sarah Wayne Callies, and myself went for Korean barbecue, and I remember I got to Georgia and I was wearing a flannel shirt and it was July and they were like, ‘Yeah, you need to buy some T-shirts.’ I also remember that year we went on Fourth of July to watch the fireworks and the sky opened. Oh my god, it was pouring rain! And we all left and everybody ran out with jackets over their head and we all went to Steven’s house. We got out the guitar and we just started singing, and Steven sang a song and Emily sang a song. We were all borrowing Steven’s clothes and sitting around his apartment on the Fourth of July with it pouring rain outside. It was like college. It was our first big hangout.
Steven has been a leading man professional on the show without ever having been any of those things before being on the show. You know what Steven is? He’s ride or die: You know he has your back. Everything that we see in Glenn is what Steven brings to him, and that’s that steady heart. I’m so excited for him knowing he’s going on to do amazing things. He’s the most professional gentleman and the silliest, funniest goof ever. And Steven’s still alive! So that’s good.”
Andrew Lincoln on Steven Yeun
“Steven is not only just an incredible actor, one of the most decent, funny, and beautiful guys I’ve ever had the fortune of meeting. He’s also one of my dearest friends in life. Period. And the prospect of him not being here, it’s left a huge hole in the show. The prospect of returning next year is bleaker because of his absence. His departure was seismic. And we all felt it. He is one of the founding fathers of this show. His fingerprints are on every part of it. It’s his humor I’ll miss most of all. He’s just got this knack of saying exactly the right thing at the wrong time. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I’ll miss all of it. The wonderful thing about being in this job is seeing someone grow up on screen and become this astonishing leading actor in his own right. Rick’s relationship to Glenn was he’s the funnier, better-looking, smarter younger brother that he never had — which is exactly my relationship with Steven.”
Norman Reedus on Steven Yeun
“He is one of my best friends. I was with him when he proposed to his wife. He’s been on this run with me since before I even started on the show. Losing him as a character and as a guy I get to hang out with every day is a bummer. It’s the last thing in the world I ever wanted to happen. You lose people on this show and you’re like, ‘That’s how the show works,’ but when you lose somebody that close to you, it just sucks. I’m a fan of the show as much as I am an actor on it, and I fall in love with these characters. You see these characters change, and I see people grow as actors, and I see them take chances, and I see them do things that blow my mind. I cry with them. I fight with them. We built this friendship since day one, just like Daryl and Glenn did. I f—ing love Steven.”
The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman on Steven Yeun
“One thing I’ll miss with Steven is that he was fun to poke fun at, but he was always a good sport. The first thing that Steven ever shot was doing a pickup shot for episode 4 in season 1 because we wanted him to go back to the tank and grab Rick’s hat that he had left behind. But we didn’t want to pay to have that tank back on set, so we did some pickup shots of him running and grabbing that hat for the later episode. And I guess he didn’t anticipate how much running he was going to be doing because we ended up having to do a few takes, and he hadn’t eaten anything, so he kind of blacked out on his first day of shooting. So we always used to make fun of him for that and he was always a good sport about it. He was always a very fun, very uplifting, upbeat member of the cast that always kept things lively. It’s really tough not having him around.”
Director/Executive Producer Greg Nicotero on Steven Yeun
“Anytime I’m anywhere on the street and people say, ‘Who’s your favorite character?’ I always say, ‘Glenn.’ There’s something so relatable about him, and Steven is the ultimate perfectionist. He always feels that he can do better even though he’s amazing. He always wants to refine. He always wants to better himself as an actor and as a performer. For me, I looked forward to shooting scenes with him because he put so much energy and effort into his character. There was a moment in season 3 where we were shooting a scene where we weren’t really 100 percent sure if the dialogue was quite working, and we called the showrunner and he went, ‘You know what, guys? Just run with it.’ So Steven and I rewrote the scene and it was one of the best scenes of the episode. He’s one in a million, man. The energy that he brings to set, his attitude — everything about him is A-level.”