The Walking Dead returns for season 4 on Oct. 13, but when it does, several of the original cast members will not be returning with it. Season 3 was a bloodbath and many of the victims claimed were folks that were around when the show first started: Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori), IronE Singleton (T-Dog), Laurie Holden (Andrea), and Michael Rooker (Merle) all watched their characters meet an untimely demise.
One person who was certainly not happy to see them go was Norman Reedus, who (still) plays Daryl Dixon on AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama. “I hate it when one of the OGs goes,” Reedus told me while taking a break from filming on the set of season 4. “It really bums me out. It’s taken three seasons for people to get wrapped up in certain characters. I think once you invest in those characters to have those characters go is just like ‘Ah, man.’ I think people are sort of left hanging on a string.”
As if saying goodbye to so many familiar faces was not difficult enough, Reedus also had to adjust to all the new actors joining the show as part of the 50 new prison inhabitants that have come from Woodbury and other places since the end of last season. “It’s weird to delegate authority to newbies in the group and on set,” says Reedus. “It’s odd, to be honest. Starting the season, there’s certain techniques that the writers are using to integrate the storylines of other people and it’s interesting.”
Reedus says another by-product of all the new characters is less scenes between the core cast members — at least at first. “I know Andy [Lincoln] going into the first episode was like ‘Man, when are we getting back together? When are we going to kill something? I’m farming. I’m doing pigs. I mean, what the hell?’ And I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, man. It’ll happen.’ And I’m running and yelling at people I don’t really know very well.”
Reedus says there is one major payoff to adding all the new faces: the unfamiliarity they have with each other as actors will play well for the characters also still learning to trust each other once everything goes bad. “I think the internal fear has always been something hanging in the wind, and who’s gonna f— over who and who can you trust?” says Reedus. “So now having that fear back inside the camp is just as scary as season 1. I like people scared on the show. If everyone’s tough, it seems more manageable. I like the fear in season 1, and I think the fear is back in season 4, which is awesome to see people afraid again. That’s really the dynamic that we’re playing with this whole season so far.”