As AMC’s The Walking Dead prepares to end its ten-year run, several of the zombie drama’s cast and creative geniuses gathered on Saturday on the Main Stage of New York Comic Con to reflect on their journey and look ahead to the final episodes. The Walking Dead is a modern genre television institution cherished by fans worldwide, with a large cast, nonstop action and high-stakes storytelling across each season, and many spinoffs either running or in the works.

The panel host took the stage first, reminiscing about how long The Walking Dead has been a fixture at New York Comic Con:

“Twelve years, eleven seasons, with the series finale November 20. There are three spinoffs to talk about, there’s a lot of Walking Dead business to be had.”

Scott Gimple, Chief Content Officer, took the stage first, followed by Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Darryl actor Norman Reedus, and other cast and crew members:

“What does it feel like to be back with the past again?” Morgan was asked. He replied, “I missed everybody. It doesn’t feel like we’ve stopped, in a way. You’re always looking for their names on the chairs at work.”

“It all comes together,” Gimple said succinctly when asked what he could tease about the final seven episodes. “All these characters grow into their final forms, like Pokemon. There are these other shows, but this is how it all comes together.” He talked about the final Rick episode and how the writers had asked each other, “What did it all mean? Starting with Rick waking up in the hospital, what did it all mean?”

The first look at the next episode was shown on the hall’s screens, prompting applause and a shout of “Daryl! Daryl!”

Gimple brought with him a piece of hotel stationery with a scribbled note: “Please keep in mind that this is not real blood! I’m employed with The Walking Dead.” He said in the matching anecdote that star Danai Gurira refused to film a scene in which she is covered in blood. She moved over to him and hugged him after Gimple forced her to do it, coating him in fake blood so he was worried about what the hotel workers would say when they did his clothes.

Reedus also tweeted a photo of himself with Michael Rooker, who played Daryl’s brother Merle in the early seasons. “I chose that photo because I have so many wonderful recollections of Michael,” he explained.

“I think the character in that photo is much different than the clip you just showed, for sure,” Reedus said when asked about Daryl’s journey. “But, I haven’t seen that clip before, and I thought it was interesting, when Carol walks up to Daryl, you got totally silent. I really love working with Melissa, and there’s been a lot of talk — chill, it’s gonna be fine — it’s been a real honor coming to Comic-Con, and the love goes both ways.”

Other celebs also shared personal images, including one of the cast celebrating a birthday and playing “heads up” behind the scenes. One was from Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln’s final day on set, with everyone gathered around a table. Lazaro brought a photo of herself hugging Reedus. Shaw’s had him dressed up and photographed with a team member dressed up as a walker.

Morgan was questioned if he ever imagined Negan’s journey would take him thus far. “No. I suppose I expected it to take three years, and I thought, ‘That seems like a long time.’ I had no idea we’d still be here eight years later, and those eight years have flown past. Just like that!”

Paola Lázaro, who plays Juanita “Princess” Sanchez in the show, said she fell to her knees sobbing when she found out she had been cast. “It has undoubtedly altered my life; I’ve discovered a new family, and the support you guys provide is incredible. Princess reciprocates your feelings! When I was eight years old, I was a princess.” She also mentioned how much she admires Princess’ tenderness beneath her harsh exterior.

Lauren Ridloff was asked what she had learnt from her character Connie, and her response was translated from ASL by an interpreter. “I’m Deaf, clearly, and it’s not a big concern to me, but how do we communicate is. What are our communication methods? And I believe that through The Walking Dead, audiences learn how to interact.” When asked how she felt about being here, she replied, “I’m still amazed that I’m sitting here, between two of these guys! Oh my goodness!”

“What has been the most difficult for you this season?” Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, was asked by the moderator. “It was a significant shift. I began in the show by being in the woods, in the trenches, and I like it. And then I’m in a suit, with really clean shoes. When I arrived on set, people would ask, ‘Are you here to sell a house?'”

Michael James Shaw discussed losing his father while filming the final season, as well as how helpful the cast and showrunners were. Shaw responded to a question regarding Mercer’s capacity to compartmentalize by saying, “It’s a detriment because you never get to be entirely yourself. You must be a commander and a lover; you can never reveal your feelings for your sister. He never showed his feelings for Max in the first few episodes. Her compartmentalizing was most likely driving her insane.”

The moderator inquired about the planned Daryl spinoff program with Reedus. “It’s in France,” he explained. “The scale is gigantic. It’s fucking epic, I mean. I’ve been on location scouts over there, and I’ve spoken with sound and photography professionals. I believe France is going to suffer a heart attack. That’s fine; it’s exactly what I want. It’s something I think I’ll be quite proud of.” “There will be a lot of recognized faces,” he hinted.

The debate then moved on to the Dead City spinoff starring Maggie and Negan, which is currently being shot in New Jersey. New pictures from the series have been released. “It’s the most difficult circumstance we’ve had to face, but the need outweighs the fear,” Cohan added. “We’re proud of it, and I hope you guys will enjoy it,” Morgan remarked.

The Walking Dead: Dead City is set to premiere in April.

The panel then took questions from the audience. A fan asked the cast to name their favorite adversaries. The responses varied, but Morgan commented, “For me, it’s all of these guys. They murdered my entire family!”

One fan asked Gimble if he had ever fought particularly hard for a tale or idea to come to fruition. “I don’t recall a lot of tug-of-wars in the five years I ran the program,” he added. “Those were a good five years,” Cohan stated.

“Who would make the sexiest zombie?” was another inquiry. “Jeffrey,” Reedus responded, and Morgan turned it around on him.

A fan asked Gimble, “What’s the possibility of a flash-forward movie, similar to what we had in the graphic novel’s ending?” Gimble replied, “The way the comic was written was brilliant. The way that Robert [Kirkman, the comic’s author] sprung it on all of us was amazing. He created another world for us to explore, and I do want to explore it someday.”

The moderator finished the panel by asking everyone on stage to go down the line and say whatever was on their minds. “I want to thank you for making The Walking Dead what it is,” said Gimble. “The love that you gave the show made us work very hard to risk it, again and again to make the show that you wanted.”

Morgan stated that he had worked in a few large series, but added, “Nothing compares to the love this program has with its fans and vice versa. And it’s actually been a privilege and a freaking honor. As a result, thank you.”

“I’m going to fucking miss it!” exclaimed Reedus, prompting numerous audience members to exclaim, “We love you!”

Source : CBR