Behind the Scenes of The Walking Dead: Lincoln, Nicotero, Gimple appear at GW Lisner Auditorium

The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln, Greg Nicotero, Scott Gimple and prop master John Sanders, who brought Hershel's head, appear prior to mid-season return of ep. 609 The Plan


WASHINGTON, February 8, 2016 — Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Greg Nicotero (Director/Special Effects) of the popular AMC television show The Walking Dead were part of a panel at the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium last Friday.

The packed house of about 1,500 decidedly rabid fans, who started lining up around 1:00 in the afternoon, heard not only Lincoln and Nicotero, but also show runner and fan favorite Scott Gimple and prop master John Sanders.  The evening’s moderator was Eric Deggans of NPR.

Andrew Lincoln, Greg Nicotero, Scott Gimple, John Sanders - Moderator Eric Deggans - Image by
Andrew Lincoln, Greg Nicotero, Scott Gimple, John Sanders – Moderator Eric Deggans – Image by

Fans were treated to more than an hour and a half discussion on all that is “The Walking Dead.” The talk centered around three key scenes — the supposed death of Glenn Rhee, the violent passing of Hershel Greene and Rick putting an abusive husband out of his misery.

There was also talk of Rick’s beard, which became its own character, ending with its demise once The Grimes Gang reached Alexandria

“Norman (Reedus) and I had a joke that we should keep pieces of the beard, for the Smithsonian,” Nicotero said. “Norman actually has a zip lock bag with pieces of Andy’s beard.”

Most on people’s mind was the story arc that had fans debating Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) death in episode 603, not reveling whether he survives or not for numerous nail biting episodes.

“We shoot ourselves in the foot once or twice a year losing great people,” said Scott Gimple. “We were trying to tell a story we had not told before and put the audience through as intense of an emotional experience as we could. I was happy at the end of it to see the way the audience reacted as they did.”

And react they did. The outpouring on Twitter alone kept the conversation, and debate, on whether Glenn survived or not through four episodes, his fate not being reveled until episode 607, Heads Up.

The Walking Dead is without a doubt not so much about Zombies as it is about what people will do when faced with the apocalypse. Show watchers know that the answer to that is not good.
It seems to bring the worst out of the worst, while we stare blindly at those who believe the best is still out there.

Unfortunately no. The best is behind us.

In no other scene was that played out with more brutality then when gentle and beloved character Hershel loses his head to the Governor (David Morrissey). In a moment of foretelling his future, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) speaks to his daughter Maggie about taking chances while treating the people in the prison dying from the flu.

“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays you breathe, and you risk your life. Every moment now… you don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for. Now, I can make these people feel better and hang on a little bit longer. I can save lives. And that’s enough reason to risk mine.”

Hershel’s life was not lost to the flu, but to his violent and horrific decapitation by the Governor who was fighting the Grimes Gang for control of the prison in the eighth episode of Season 4, the mid season finale, “Too Far Gone”.

For the panel presentation, Greg Nicotero (Director/Special Effects), brought Hershel’s head for the fans to see, showing how props are used to propel this series, now in its sixth season

Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson)
Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson)

“The Walking Dead is an orchestra of visual effects,” Nicotero told the audience. “When an audience looks at you and say I don’t know how they did that then you know that you did something special.”
In making the prop Nicotero explained that they had done a life cast of Scott’s head, resculpting it.

“Every individual hair is added and it took two weeks just to put the hair in and style it, then we had the animatronics that would open and close the mouth” Nicotero explained. “We put contact lenses into one of my crew members and filmed the optics and composited his eyes onto the prop head. There is a shot where a fly actually lands on the head and we made it so the guy would look up.”

“The eyes were alive.”

How did they do it? It’s always about mixing the mediums and keeping the audiences guessing.

Hershel's head on display at the panel event
Hershel’s head on display at the panel event

As fans ready themselves for the return of The Walking Dead following the mid-season break of season six, on their minds this night was “How will it end”

The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale Fan Chat – Start to Finish

“There is absolutely an endgame to the show,” Scott Gimple said. “The show is mapped out for several years. We have a comic it is based on and even applying the butterfly effect of the show and the various characters. We have a series of rolling endgames. As long as the audience enjoys the show and the comic.”

“We are on six years and we are not slowing down,” Gimple promised.

For the return of the show this Sunday, February 14, 2016 with episode 609 The Plan that has the survivors back in their dead Zombie suits attempting to escape Alexandria that has been overrun by the herd.

Whoever survives, or doesn’t, this fans guess is that the Grimes Gang will reduce back to its original force – Rick, Carol (Melissa McBride), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Judith,Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohen), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Morgan (Lennie James), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Tara (Alanna Masterson) will all make it out of Alexandria, meeting up with Darryl, Tasha (Sonequa Marti-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) who, when we left them last were making the appearance of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) one of the most ominous and brutal foes that the group has yet to meet.

Which is saying a lot, considering whom they have come up against in the past.

On the AMC website, Norman Reedus (Darryl) and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, in interviews tease:

“We don’t all survive,” Norman Reedus teases. “We don’t all take it very well.”

“We’ll see characters face their own inner-demons in a way that we haven’t seen them before,” executive producer Gale Anne Hurd says.

All are promising that “heads are going to roll — quite literally… and not everyone you love is going to make it out alive.”

With the shows return next Sunday promising new horrors, Lincoln was asked about the shows violence, particularly his jugular wrenching bite to save Carl from rape and death.

“It’s the neck bite. I called Scott and said, you know we are always been extremely responsible with violence but we talked about the line in the sand. Are we crossing the line?,” Lincoln said. “However, any time I question Scott, he is ultimately right.”.

One season return teases they did offer is that Rick is on a journey, “Friends must think I am a sociopath,” Lincoln says. “We should be terrified if we do something right. If we are going to be creative, lets terrify ourselves.”

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