The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus on that Daryl and Rick brawl
'It was a lot of time to beat the crap out of him,' says Reedus. 'It was awesome.'
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “The Big Scary U” episode of The Walking Dead.]
Norman Reedus promised us before The Walking Dead season 8 began that Daryl was going to go rogue. Little did we realize that meant a fist-fight with his post-apocalypse bestie. But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday’s “The Big Scary U” episode when Daryl and Rick got into a big disagreement that led to a big brawl.
At the heart of the disagreement was what to do with some dynamite the duo located in the Saviors truck they overturned last week. Daryl wanted to use it to blow up part of the Sanctuary that would allow the horde of walkers to come in to finish off the opposition and end the war, while Rick thought a line had to be drawn between soldiers and workers and they could not sacrifice innocent lives to win the conflict. When the two could not agree, it was fisticuffs and chokeholds galore.
The fight was probably only a matter of time after seeing Daryl’s zero tolerance, zero survivors attitude, forged after he was tortured last season by Negan at the Sanctuary. First, he took down Morales without remorse, and then he killed a Savior that Rick had promised safety to in exchange for information. We chatted with Norman Reedus from the set of the show to get the inside scoop on filming the Daryl and Rick brawl and what it means moving forward. (Also make sure to check out our explanation of the big Negan backstory reveal and how it mirrors what happens in the comic book.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You finally got to mix it up with Andrew Lincoln on set as Daryl and Rick got into a fight over using some TNT to take down the Sanctuary. What was your first thought when you saw in that script you and Andy were going to get into a knockdown, drag-out fight?
NORMAN REEDUS: My first thought was that Andy’s going to try to do some rewrites, throw in 12 karate kicks to my throat — you know, stuff like that. But yeah, they’re always fun. I mean, Andy and I both are big believers in trying to do all of our own stunts, so, you know, the Advil was flowing for days.
Yeah, tell me how much they let you do and how you guys blocked that out. What was filming that whole day like?
We did all the stunts on that, he and I. They were fun. There’s a bit of rolling around and stuff that was added sort of last minute, us rolling back and forth. I think a lot of it didn’t make the cut because we both looked like we were kind of doing gymnastics on the floor. Andy got a little sucker punch into the jaw there, which he’ll never admit, but I’m saying it. He did it, but that happens.
The show’s really physical sometimes, and to be honest, we both like doing the physical stuff. So it’s great. Whenever Andy and I work together, it’s a lot of fun, so I knew it would be fun, but there’s a lot of choreography and explosions, and, we had to be very careful about doing certain things. It was a lot of time to beat the crap out of him. It was awesome.
Daryl wanted to use the dynamite to blow some things up that could end the war, but would also mean a lot of casualties, while Rick says they can’t do that. Who’s right?
I think we’re both kind of right. Rick’s taking the stance that there are people to save, and Daryl’s sort of gone rogue. You know, you can see from the episode beforehand, he’s just going to put down anyone because they’re in his way, and there’s a certain game that we’re trying to get to the end of, and he’s not being the sensitive, diplomatic one. He’s really just trying to end it now as fast as possible.
The dynamite would’ve been a good thing to use, and of course, in very Laurel and Hardy fashion, we both mess it up. So I thought it was kind of funny. I love in that episode there’s that one scene after the fact, and we’re both kind of talking to each other, barely, but not looking at each other, and I love that scene. That’s one of my favorites.
I love that scene too, especially where Rick says, “Chokehold is illegal, a–hole,” and then you make him walk. At this point, where are they with this disagreement and with each other?
Like brothers do, you kind of beat the crap out of each other, and then you’re like, “So what are we doing tonight?” So we have that relationship. We’re both still pissed at each other, but how far are you going to take it? So, that scene, I really liked it. It was very simple. It’s very straight to the point, and there was humor to it, too. I remember shooting that. We were both cracking up afterwards because the more real you play that and the more hurt you are, the more the comedy comes out in some weird way. So that was one of my favorite scenes.
Did you guys tweak that scene at all while you were working on it that day?
It’s kind of a talk-to-the-hand moment, you know what I mean? So, yeah, we worked that out on the day, and we had great ideas going into that one. When we get together, we really are like little kids. We like to talk about it. We like to get into it. We have all these ideas. He’s giving me notes. I’m giving him notes, much to the chagrin of the directors sometimes, because they’re like, “What are you guys talking about?” We’re like, “Nothing, nothing. Just watch.”
I’ve seen directors on set do that with you, too. Like, “Oh, no, Norman’s going to have some ideas. We got to keep him in check.”
[Laughing] Yeah! Actually, in the scene Andy’s shooting right now, I just gave him a note, and you know, they’re like, “What are you talking about?” We’re like, “Nothing, nothing. It’s going to be great!” We do that a lot.
We’ve seen this in Daryl all season, like the other week when he shot that guy who told him where the guns are even though Rick had promised him safety. How much of this is, this is what’s necessary in war, and how much is just straight up revenge?
It’s a little bit of both, to be honest, and Daryl does go a bit rogue this season, and he’s continuing to go rogue throughout the season quite a way through the story. There are some bigger rogue moments coming, to be honest, and it’s funny because we joke around. Andy’s like, “You know what? That would’ve worked if it wasn’t for you.” And I’m like, “Well, you know what? If you would’ve come up with a better plan, that would’ve worked!”
I’m constantly giving him s— for coming up with these complex plans that don’t work. So it’s a little bit of both. There are some really big moments coming where I kind of go rogue without him knowing it, because this group gets separated from time to time. Everybody in this group, everyone’s trusted enough, and everyone’s in it enough to make plans, and we’re all trying to reach the same spot, but there are moments when you have to make decisions on the fly, and that happens this season quite a bit.
We’ve seen Daryl struggling with what happened last season, like in that one scene you didn’t even say a word. You just look in, and you find that other room where clearly someone else had been held, and you see the dog food and the sandwich on the floor.
That was a much longer scene, as well. Sometimes scenes get cut for time or whatever and get shortened. It happens all the time, but there was a much longer moment there. There was a really long walk-through in that office complex, and I was like smelling things and hearing things. You know, there was a whole thing that happened there that I really liked, but it got trimmed down a bit.