Up next was Executive Producer and creator of The Walking Dead graphic novel Robert Kirkman, Steven Yeun (Glenn) and Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale Horvath).
Yeun: “I did know that it was a fan favorite-ish type of role. I’m just excited to play it out as expected. It’s just a story of a kid trying to prove himself and do what he needs to do to make his mark on the world. It’s turns into something great. He’s the embodiment of the idea love can rise in even the most ridiculous situations.”
Kirkman: “He’s reckless youth. I think what I wanted to do with that was basically show someone a couple weeks of having a fun moment after everything we had seen just to show there was a little humanity left in these characters. It was very early on in the show, the two sides of people, we didn’t want it to be constant misery. I think it added an important element to the show.”
How does the TV series affect Robert Kirkman’s writing of the comic book?
Kirkman: “I try not to allow anything from the show to influence me comic book wise. Sometimes I find myself holding back at times. When I had kids, I started holding back in the book. It made me realize ‘You don’t want to do this to this character because you have a child yourself and you’re being a sissy.‘ I would push myself to do it anyway. I’ve always tried to push myself to not let anything to change what I’ve been doing just because the book has been fairly successful and people like it and don’t want it to suddenly be different in anyway. But it’s very hard to keep that kind of stuff pure but I think I’m doing an okay job with it. It does help that the Comic book series has been running for so long that I’m really telling completely different stories than are being done in the show now. So I’m able to keep them separate.”
How does Robert Kirkman manage the time for the TV series and not cut into his comic book time?
“I’ve been a machine. Television writers are vey laid back, easy people to work with. (In the) writer’s room you’re working 4, 5, maybe 6 hours a day, (I’m a) ten hour day guy. I feel like I’m lazy if I’m not putting in the hours. If I’m not spending time with my wife and kids, I’m working. I usually don’t do anything else. I’m boring to have conversations with, I don’t like to go out. I like to work.”
The script that Kirkman wrote last season was one of the ones that had a large plot line. Will he be writing any more scripts this season and is he introducing more original stuff to the mix?
Kirkman: “I’m writing the second episode this season and I’m in the room full time so there’s little things in each episode that I’ve suggested. I hate to admit to it but I’m the crank that wants to diverge at times. I’m the guy that’s “No, let’s do this,” and “No, it’s great, what’s at this end, people won’t be expecting that,” I have done this story. “Do you really want to do the camp attack this way? I would change this and this and maybe it would be neat if we did this,” It’s basically just me being a writer not wanting to write the exact same thing again. I’m constantly pushing to get new things. I think as long as the new things we add to the television show are awesome, fans will be on board for it.”
Is there a criteria Kirkman uses in following along with the comic and changing plots for the series? (Amy dying was in the books right around the same time).
“It’s that in a big way. Making sure that the audience knows that’s everyone is on shaky ground and anything can happen at any moments. As far as specific story points that make it from the book into the TV show, anything that affects the character and the characters around it. For like Amy’s death has a really important aspect on Andrea’s character and how she grows moving forward. That’s the kind of stuff you have to maintain. We have the stuff that you can’t change and then you throw some stuff in the mix.”
How does Robert Kirkman handle all this attention, working on a TV show after being a comic book writer all those years?
Kirkman: l’ll be honest, doing the comic book and knowing the subject matter and seeing what’s on TV because I have a television and I turn it on and don’t see zombies ever, it’s a comic book about people getting eaten alive and torn apart and zombies and stuff, I never thought in a million years it would get adapted into a television show. I didn’t think it was good for a movie just because it’s a continuing narrative and it works against everything that movies are. I was content to sit in Kentucky and keep doing a Comic book. To be honest I was having a good time doing it but I like having a television show so I’m glad it worked out.”
Robert: “It happened early on, like 2005. Frank got in touch with my manager and called me on the phone and was like, ‘Hey I read your comic and I think it’d make a good TV show.’ We ended up talking to NBC for a while and it almost got into pilot order at NBC then it fell apart. Frank always stayed in the mix. I’d see him every year at Comic Con and he’d say, ‘Buddy, we’re going to do this show, don’t you worry, I’m going to do it.’ I’d be like, “It’s been three years you don’t have to tell me this. I appreciate you still talking to me but it’s not going to happen but it’s okay.” One day he was having a conversation with Gale she was talking about how she had discovered the comic. They had joined forces and brought AMC into the mix. Once Gale and AMC got involved it was one of those things they say about Hollywood. Deals take seven years until they’re happening and then it takes seven days. It’s a lot of flurry of phone calls and then next thing you know here we are.”
What was Jeffrey DeMunn’s initial reaction to being offered the script?
DeMunn: “I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had not read the graphic novel, I never read any graphic novels. I was on another job and he called me and said ‘Jeffrey would you like to come to Atlanta and kill zombies?’ And I said immediately yes, I’ll do it. Because he is such a wonderful creative force to be near. He works with the best people, he works with really nice people, people that you can get along with, good human beings. That combination of talent and decent personatlity, of course I want to be there. It was only later that I began to grasp that nature of what we were doing. It was like nothing I never tried before. That was the Genesis of me coming on.
Yeun (to DeMunn): “What was that wonderful quote you said to me when I asked what you were going to do before you accepted it? You said, ‘Listen if you were going to a master chef’s house would you doing to ask what he’s making for dinner? You just go and enjoy.’”
How does Steven feel about being new to the industry coming into this role?
Yeun: I’d spent about four or five years in Chicago right after I graduated from college doing theater. I toured a little bit with Second City and after that picked up my bags and moved to LA, kind of like on a gut-check whim. The beginning of that year I felt like I should go and I just went. The deal for this came right then. It’s so ridiculous how everything happened. I had just tested for a pilot right before this one and it came down to me and another guy and I didn’t get it. I was so bummed. And this thing came along and that other thing didn’t go past the pilot. I am very new to the industry, but when I say stars aligned, it’s really like the stars aligned.”
DeMunn: “Isn’t that amazing? The first time he’s out on the ice and he gets a team like this.’
Yeun: “What did I say to you the first day? ‘Excuse me if I bother you but I’m going to sponge the entire season. That entire season all I did absorb, absorb, absorb, absorb. What an awesome bunch of people to absorb from. I could have been on a show with someone terrible, you hear a lot of horror stories. This is the best thing that has happened. It’s pretty great.”
DeMunn: “It’s simple, genuine, easy, and it makes it work. Everybody wants that other person to be even better than best. What a tremendous feeling to have that kind of support. As you know it’s not always there.”
Have they read the comic?
Yeun: “I read it before. I read up to the point that I got this and then I stopped. You just don’t want to inform yourself too much. And they’re too different things. If I wanted to read it at this point, what I would want to read it is just being a fan of the comic. I was reading it before I knew this was project. It is like crack.”
Kirkman: What a compliment really.
Yeun: I would read it for the entertainment value as opposed to what happens next because like Robert said they’re two very separate things.
Will Steven King write an episode this season?
Kirkman: All I can say is that Steven King is definitely into doing it and his son is going to be participating as well. We couldn’t find the window for them to be able to do it. When they were available we couldn’t make it work and we were available they couldn’t make it work. We’re gonna try and see what we can do in the future but we’re all very hopeful we’ll get them to work out.