The Walking Dead: Q&As with Michael Zegen, Jon Bernthal, and Robert Kirkman; Clip and Photos from Episode 2.13 – Beside the Dying Fire

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Last night on “The Walking Dead” the event fans of the comic have been waiting for finally occurred, and it was just as sweet as we hoped it would be! But before we take a peek at the season finale to see how everyone is coping, here’s a quick Q&A with guest star Michael Zegen.

Below the interview with Zegen (who played Randall on the show), in which he describes portraying characters that people like to beat up and explains rural Georgia’s greatest life-threatening phenomenon (aside from walkers), are a couple of photos, a clip, and the trailer for next week’s Episode 2.13, “Beside the Dying Fire”. Below those are a few VERY interesting excerpts from Robert Kirkman’s and Jon Bernthal (Shane)’s recent interviews with Inside TV on EW.com. Be sure to hit that link to read them in their entirety.

Once you’re done reading and watching, you’ll want to visit the official “The Walking Dead” page on AMCtv.com, where you’ll find highlights of Episode 2.12, “Better Angels”, along with an “inside look” at the ep, in which the cast of “The Walking Dead” talk about revenge on the zombies and the necessity of letting Shane back into the group. This week there’s also a bonus video focusing on Shane’s last stand.

Now on to Michael’s Q&A:

Q: Were you a fan of “The Walking Dead” before you got the role?

A: I watched the first season like a normal viewer. I remember thinking to myself that this is such an awesome show, there’s no way I’m going to be on it. But then later when I got the audition, I had to do a three-page monologue. I had one night to memorize it, and I stayed up ’til 5:00 AM. I got my friends to come early in the morning and put me on tape. Two days later I was off to Georgia.

Q: How do you describe your role on the show?

A: I try to tell my friends as little about the show as possible because most of them watch and I don’t want to ruin it for them. My mother is always trying to get information out of me, but I don’t want to spoil it. I tell my friends that I’m a prisoner, and I leave it at that.

Q: On “Rescue Me” you played someone with a physical disability, and on “The Walking Dead” you have a serious injury as well. What’s up with that?

A: I don’t go out and choose these parts per se; just for some reason every time I get written into a show, someone wants to do me harm!

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Q: What was it like to interact with the walkers in person?

A: The makeup that Greg [Nicotero] and those guys do is unbelievable. There are guys walking around with their jaw hanging off their faces. It’s just as scary in real life is it is on camera or on TV.

Q: And your character kills one of them!

A: You can’t be on that show and not get to kill any zombies. Come on! When that script came out, I hadn’t read it, but I was asking around, “Does Randall kill any zombies?” And someone told me he did so I was very excited. Especially when I read it, and it said I get a stab wound to the head.

Q: Speaking of stab wounds, tell me a little bit about the scene where you impale your leg on the fence.

A: That that scene took eight to ten hours, and I was strapped to this fence for all of that time and it was cold and rainy. It was pretty incredible because once they called, “Action,” it was almost real. I was screaming, Rick was firing guns, Glenn’s on the other side firing a gun as the zombies are coming in — it was really intense.

Q: You live in New York City normally. How does rural Georgia compare?

A: People drive golf carts everywhere. All the paths are filled with golf carts; all the shopping center parking lots are filled with golf carts. There were multiple times where I almost died — turning around a split second before a golf cart came my way.

Episode 2.13 – “Beside the Dying Fire” (3/18/12 Air Date):
Rick and Carl return from the woods to find the farm in jeopardy. The group is split up in the ensuing chaos. With things looking grim, Rick’s leadership is questioned. Written by Robert Kirkman and Glen Mazzara; directed by Ernest Dickerson.

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EW (to Kirkman): Following Dale’s death last week, no one would have blamed you for making this episode a let’s-pause-for-breath show. Why did you decide to have one major fatality followed almost immediately by another?

Kirkman: There was actually another death in this episode that at the very last minute, after the script was written, we decided not to do. So we were going to have three major deaths in these two episodes, but then that was decided it was just too much. I think Glen Mazzara is adamant about packing as much story into these episodes as possible and doing cool stuff and moving from idea to idea very quickly. And I am a madman who wants to make these shows as bloody as possible. So between the two of us we could have three or four major deaths in every episode and we would be happy. Thankfully, cooler heads prevail. Other writers are always going, “Guys! Guys! What are we doing?” So we tone things down a little bit.

EW: Wouldn’t the survivors have discovered before this point that everyone becomes a zombie when they’re dead, whether they’ve been bitten or not?

Kirkman: Well, this is their process. This is us showing how they found this out. They clearly haven’t been in a situation where they’d discovered that. This is them learning that. So: No!

EW: So what were all those walkers doing in the woods at the end of the show? Were they attending some sort of-getting-back-to-the-country zombie-Phish show? What’s going on?

Kirkman: Look, there’s a very large grouping of zombies in the woods milling about. Much like the zombies that we saw on the highway in our premiere episode, just a large herd of zombies. What they were doing in those woods and how they got there and where they’re going now is all something we will be dealing with.

EW (to Bernthal): So after spending almost two seasons trying to take out zombies, how did it feel to switch sides and play for the other team, if only for a few seconds?

Bernthal: You know, man, it was crazy. I didn’t even realize that I was playing a zombie until I was playing it. There was a lot of discussion going back and forth, a lot of arguing going back and forth on what that last scene actually should be — between myself and Andy and the writers. And everybody kind of got their own little say in what that last scene actually was. But then at the very end I realized, now you gotta go play a zombie! I never even thought about that. Then all of a sudden I’ve got these contacts on, I can’t see anything, and I’m a zombie. And I’m like, “I don’t know how to do this! What do you do?”

EW: I know you and Andrew Lincoln tested for this show together and were the first regulars cast, so what was it like, now, completing that journey? Take me inside the filming of that final confrontation and the emotions at play while playing it.

Bernthal: We shot that scene all night long. And the entire cast came out and spent the entire night out on that field to be there for the last scene, and Jeff DeMunn [who played the recently deceased Dale] actually had been gone. He lives on a farm in upstate New York, and he had flown down and surprised me to be there for my last scene, which just touched me. And like I said, there was a lot of feeling about the last scene. The writers wanted it to be one way, the actors wanted it one way, the producers wanted it to be another way, I think everybody just sort of had their idea of what that scene should be, and it was just Andy and I in the woods walking out together, and Andy and I turned to each other and said, “You know what, man, this is you and me. Let’s do this for you and me.” I can’t imagine a better actor, a better partner, to do this with, and it’s been the honor of my acting career to act alongside Andrew Lincoln. He’s my brother, he’s my best friend that I’ve made in the acting world, and to go out the way I did and go out with who I did — it was, and still is, very emotional.

EW: You’re obviously very close to Frank Darabont and were quite candid about how upset you were when he was forced out. So naturally that begs the question: Did you ask to be written out of the show?

Bernthal: You know, no. I did not. This was always the plan. This was always the plan that this was going to do down this way. [However] when Frank left, there were some discussions that it was going to go a different way. One of the things I was really, really looking forward to is Frank always said he was going to write and direct our last scene — the last scene Andy and I would play together. And I’ll be honest: It brought all those feelings back up because at the end of the day, this thing started with Andy, Frank, and I. Frank continues, I know, to live in Andy’s heart, as he does in mine, and I think that he was sort of there in that last scene. The fact that now I get to go work with him again [on TNT’s upcoming “L.A. Noir”] is something I’m just tremendously excited about.

EW: You touched on it a little bit with everyone coming out to see that scene, but tell me a little bit more about saying goodbye to the cast and crew.

Bernthal: Man, it was really, really sad. I love that cast and crew with all my heart, and it meant the world to me that everybody was out there that night. And you know, usually when someone shoots their last scene the AD says, “That’s a picture wrap on so-and-so,” and everybody claps. But I made him promise me he wouldn’t do that. For some reason I really didn’t want to do that, and when the scene was over, it was like six in the morning, and the sun was starting to come up. Everybody was freezing cold, they’d been out there all night, and we all just sort of huddled, kind of like a group of zombies. Nobody said anything, everybody just silently walked together. I kind of made a speech and I was crying a little bit and I talked about how I was so proud of everybody, how we did stick together, and we came through everything that happened.

EW: And that was that.

Bernthal: It’s funny because I promised everybody that I was going to come back and sort of say my final goodbye. And I came in to work while they were shooting the next episode and I walked out onto the set and I saw the cast and the crew and everybody was working, and I realized I’m no longer a part of it. And I really didn’t know what to do. This was my show! These are all my friends, my family. And so what I did was I actually went out into the woods and I hid and I watched them shoot for about two-and-a-half-hours, and I was just sitting there. I sound like the biggest weirdo in the world, but I didn’t say goodbye. I couldn’t. I just wanted to watch and spectate. And none of them even knew that I was there, and I just walked back to my car and went home with my dog, Boss. But this will always be the greatest job I ever had. I’ve never met people who care about what they do more, and it was just such an honor to be a part of it, and I’m gonna miss them all so much.

And we’ll miss you, too, Jon! (Shane, not so much.)

To stay up-to-the-minute on all things walker related, follow @WalkingDead_AMC on Twitter and visit “The Walking Dead” on Facebook. For more be sure to hit up the official “The Walking Dead” page on AMC.com.

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