Norman Reedus was not a happy camper during the filming of the first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season. But that’s okay, because it turns out he wasn’t supposed to be happy about it. We spoke to Reedus about some of the fan complaints about the first eight episodes, and then he unloaded with some complaints of his own, even revealing that he took those complaints straight to showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
It seems being stuck in a cell naked by yourself is none too fun, and Reedus made sure his boss was aware of it, only to be told that it was necessary to serve the story. (An assessment it seems Reedus ultimately — if begrudgingly — agreed with.) Read on as Reedus explains how filming the story deviation was anything but “Easy Street” (sorry, couldn’t resist) and why he says he’s “happy that we’re back on that first track again.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Obviously, one of the big differences from the first half of the season to the second half is seeing you all reunited again. What’s it like getting the gang back together since you guys were all splintered off?
NORMAN REEDUS: Oh, God, it’s great. You know, this show always feels like the show to me when that group is working in unison, and that first half was very hard for us to film. It was just rough. We were all separated, and we just kind of missed each other. We missed having the feeling that we had when we started this thing. I mean, I know the show evolves and all of that stuff, but man, that first half was rough, so I’m excited that we’re all back together. I know everybody’s excited.
Andrew Lincoln said the same thing. But he also said it really feels like the old show again in this back half.
Yeah, it does, and you know, that’s what we like doing. That’s what we miss doing, so it was nice to have that gang back together, for sure.
There was obviously some chatter out there from viewers about the first half and some complaints about the tone. What do you make of that?
I mean, I was saying that about the first half. I think part of that chatter you’re talking about came from me. But you know, it’s true: You can’t make everybody happy about everything. But we try, and you have to keep the story moving forward at all times or you just tell the same story over and over again. But I know new actors that came onto this show that were like, “Man, I miss the old group,” and they were playing new roles this season. So I know that everybody felt it, but people think we’re headed to the left, and we go to the right. So that’s just how we keep people on their toes. But I’m happy that we’re back on that first track again, you know?
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You all have a history of doing an episode here and there that shows us a whole new group or community, but we’ve never had so many of those back to back like this. And the only time you all have been splintered off like this into small groups for so long was the second half of season 4. Do you think the audience missed seeing the big group together?
Yeah, and I mean, I understand when characters go through certain things, and mostly they’re cut off from the rest of the group, but I didn’t even see anybody. I was in a hole by myself, naked. It just did not feel right to me. I’d talk to Gimple, and I’d be like, ‘Man, this sucks. I hate this.’ And he’d be like, ‘You’re supposed to.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, there you go.’ You know what I mean? He was right. It was supposed to suck, and it did suck — for me, anyway. But you know, it just makes coming back together that much more special.
For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.