Have you read the comics?
I got quite far in and then stopped reading, for the reason that I didn’t want to know too much about what had happened because he wakes up from a coma – my character – and through the characters that he meets and through their stories and their accounts he finds out what’s been happening. But it’s so out there. And the scripts really are trying to mirror the tone of the graphic novel.
Did you ever dream that you would be killing zombies as your job?
You know, 16 years ago, when I started out as an actor, if someone had told me I would be wearing a Stetson hat, cowboy boots and riding a horse called Blade shooting zombies for a living, I would have just laughed. But that apparently is my job. We go to work and it feels like cinematic firsts happen every single scene in this job. It’s wild. You go to work and Greg Nicotero spends six hours in make-up and then we stab him to death, and then I get twelve squirrels thrown at me. That doesn’t happen that often.
Why are zombies suddenly becoming popular again?
I was chatting to Simon Pegg about this – he’s a self-confessed zombie geek – and he was saying some really interesting things about that they are a visible representation of our worst fear: death. When I read the script, I said it was brilliant because it could represent the paranoia of modern times, or consumerism – like a Romero film in a mall – but ultimately in this, it’s a representation of our inner darkness and fears. So many times in the script you wonder who is more dangerous, the people who are alive or the Walkers.
So is The Walking Dead a commentary on society?
It’s about forming society again. Who makes the rules? And what are the rules? Everything has been broken down and is it through force that you do it, or is it through politics, or is it through gentleness, maternal instincts? It’s a fascinating area. And you can put that politically on anything that’s happening in the world. How do people live together? How does society rebuild?
We’re really used to comic books being made into films now, but turning them into a television series is still something a bit new isn’t it?
It just feels like the format of a weekly serialisation of a comic book, you would imagine that it makes coherent sense, doesn’t it? It’s a serial TV show therefore it should match perfectly.
The Walking Dead will air on AMC in the United States in October, and FX in the United Kingdom during November.