Greg Nicotero says filming the extended finale was equal parts exhausting and exhilarating.

By Dalton Ross
March 29, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT

Shooting The Walking Dead’s season 6 finale was, by all accounts, a grueling experience that left everyone emotionally devastated. But there seems to have been a much different vibe while filming this year’s season 7 ender, which will air April 2 on AMC.

Norman Reedus told us about his excitement over it, and Andrew Lincoln did the same. While there is sure to be heartbreak — which we look into as part of our five burning questions heading into the last episode — there is also excitement as our heroes appear ready to graduate from just talking about war to actually taking part in it.

And that excitement is also felt by the man who directed the finale, exec-producer Greg Nicotero. “I think it’s one of the best scripts that we’ve ever produced, just in terms of pure character arc,” says Nicotero. “And it really sums up the trajectory of the second half of the season perfectly. A lot of the questions, and a lot of the things that we spent time cultivating over the first half of the season and the second half of the season, definitely come to a head.”

Nicotero says filming the extended finale was equal parts exhausting and exhilarating. “It was a f—ing bear, man,” says the director. “We had about a five-day prep and a 10-day shoot, and we were moving, literally, on pure instinct. Having been in the trenches with these guys so many times before, it was exciting and every single day, on set, we had fun and we got a chance to do a lot of great emotional stuff, a lot of great action stuff, sort of weaving all of these pieces together, and I f—ing loved every second of it.”

As for how the season-ender will feel different from last year’s, Nicotero points out that all their finales and premieres feel distinct. “Every one of our season openers, and every one of our season finales, they’re different,” he says. “We had the Terminus capture at the end of season 4, and then we had the Terminus escape at the start of season 5. We had Rick shooting Pete at the end of season 5, and we had the quarry at the start of season 6. Every one of these seasons starts differently and ends differently. We would never want to repeat the same sentiment, the same themes, and I think the writers have done an amazing job on the script.”

For now, Nicotero is just anxious for the world to enjoy the fruits of their labor. “There’s only probably five people that have seen it,” he notes, “And it drives me f—ing crazy! I hate the fact that I have to wait until April.” That wait — for both him and fans — is almost over.

Make sure to read about the 5 burning questions heading into the season finale, and for more Walking Dead intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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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
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