‘Walking Dead’ finale: Gale Anne Hurd on Daryl, Possible deaths & Season 4
Season 3 of “The Walking Dead” concluded last night with one explosive finale that set an interesting stage for the characters left standing after the epic showdown with David Morrissey’s Governor. (Click through the gallery above to see scenes from the episode.)
All in all, it’s been a bristling, brutal season for Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and his band of survivors — a number of whom, well, failed to survive. The executive producer of the hit AMC series, Gale Anne Hurd, is not spending a lot of time feeling overly sentimental about the characters who have departed, however.
Rather, she’s looking ahead to Season 4, which will see Scott Gimple replace Glen Mazzara at the helm of the show. Late last month, Hurd took time out to speak to Hero Complex about what audiences can expect to see when “The Walking Dead” returns for its fourth season, which will place a renewed emphasis on the threat posed by the zombies.
She also explained why Gimple is the right successor to Mazzara and how closely the series’ writers scrutinize the text of Robert Kirkman’s comic book to determine the way forward on the show.
Gale Anne Hurd , CEO of Valhalla Entertainment, is shown at Valhalla Entertainment in Los Angeles with a zombie from the AMC series “The Walking Dead,” for which Hurd is the executive producer. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / March 13, 2012)
HC: So, now that Season 3 is concluded, where do we find ourselves narratively?
GAH: The world is certainly no safer. In fact it becomes a lot more complicated in the upcoming season. I think that our band of survivors might have become a little too complacent about the threat that the walkers pose. They’re a very serious threat. I think the complacency towards walkers has probably run its course.
HC: The ratings this year have been astonishing. Has it surprised you the success the series has enjoyed, the degree to which it’s become a pop culture touchpoint?
GAH: When we started out, we hoped it would appeal to fans of the comic book and genre fans, but I hear more and more people saying that they never thought they would ever become addicted to a show that features zombies — even though it’s not about the zombies. It’s only once they realized that “The Walking Dead” actually refers to the survivors that it all makes sense.
HC: There have been a number of interesting moments this season, the introduction of the Governor, Michonne, expanding the world beyond Rick’s core group. What were you most concerned about executing and what are you most proud of achieving creatively this season?
GAH: The challenge this season is that we had to keep two completely separate story lines going. We had Woodbury, the Governor, obviously, Andrea’s there, for the longest time Merle’s there, for a while Michonne, as well as the prison. There are really a lot of characters and story to service. I think the writers did a fantastic job of walking that tightrope.
HC: A number of characters did not survive Season 3. I’ve asked this previously of Glen Mazzara, but I’d love to know your answer: Are there any characters you can’t kill?
HC: Not even Daryl?
GAH: You don’t go, we need to do something shocking, let’s kill off a character. That’s not the way it’s approached at all. We don’t do it indiscriminately. There’s always a reason and the reason we do it is because of the impact it has on the surviving characters. The only way that anyone is going to die on the show is to see how the other characters, what that does to them. This season, Rick’s character has been in the aftermath of Lori dying, same with Carl. There are shows that do, “Let’s kill someone off, we want the ratings to go up,” but that’s not how we approach it.
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in the Season 3 finale of “The Walking Dead.” (Gene Page/AMC)
HC: Speaking of Daryl for just a minute, from your vantage point, why do you think he’s become such a fan favorite?
GAH: Because Norman Reedus is the consummate actor to bring Daryl to life. He is one of the nicest people on the planet. He is completely down to earth and accessible, Norman is, in a way that’s very different from Daryl, but he’s got a number of things going for him. He’s the perfect survivor of this kind of apocalypse because he’s got a skill set. He’s the damaged guy that most women feel that their love and attention will fix and he’s got a heart of gold.
HC: Moving behind the scenes, people were surprised by Glen Mazzara’s departure. Were you?
GAH: His contract was up. It was more about a renegotiation than anything else. It wasn’t like he was fired. I think that that has been misrepresented… This wasn’t the execution that it’s been made out to be.
HC: What made Scott Gimple the right person to replace Glen as show runner?
GAH: The cast knows Scott Gimple as well as they know any writer. He’s been on since the beginning of the second season and all of our writers come to set to produce their episodes so it is a family. It’s not like we’re bringing in a new stepfather from the outside. There’s a great deal of continuity. I think he’s written some of our strongest episodes. He came to the show already a huge fan of the comic book, his love and his history as a writer is all in genre. He gets along with everyone and has everyone’s respect.
HC: Are there discussions at this point about hewing closely to Robert Kirkman’s comic? Or has the show now clearly embarked on its own path?
GAH: They are on two separate tracks and sometimes they intersect but more than likely there’s not going to be any sequence of panels from the comic book that’s going to be brought to life exactly the same way on the series. Since Robert Kirkman’s in the writers room, everything has his approval. He’s involved in every decision. When we do depart with characters, their fates or their interactions, he’s had his voice heard.