The Walking Dead is something of a juggernaut and an anomaly in the zombie and the comic book adaption world. Six seasons in and there’s no slowing down: there’s The Talking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead; the associated games and merch; the trailer for Season 7 has just been released; and ratings and reviews are still impressively high.
Much of the show’s success owes to its excellent writing — essential for a long-running show like The Walking Dead. Without the character development, the twists and turns, and of course, the killing, the show wouldn’t be as popular as it is. “We don’t ever want to put the same episodes out there episode after episode,” Andrew Lincoln says. “We want to keep the show evolving.”
The actor has been with the show from the very start as Rick Grimes, and the show has developed tremendously in that time. In some shows, every aspect comes together perfectly, and that’s what has happened with The Walking Dead. The cast and crew’s dedication to the show is incredible, Lincoln says. “The ante keeps going up, and up, and up each season, and the cast and crew keep giving more blood, sweat and tears. People are there every day.”
Another component of the show’s success, is of course, the fanbase, and Lincoln can’t help but gush about them. “I mean, look, it’s the fans are the show. The first time I came to Comic-Con, I nearly collapsed because I was terrified. And I heard The Roar of Truth, the trailer, and I full collapsed. And then I went on stage and I realised at that point, we weren’t messing it up. We weren’t messing up this brilliant material. And that’s it.”
Lincoln isn’t a big social media person, however, leaving it other castmates, particularly the beloved Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl. Naturally, Daryl/Rick fanart and fanfiction comes up. “I think he shows my wife,” Lincoln laughs. “She’s constantly going: ‘Is this the person I have to share my husband with?’” But there’s no bad blood. “I think social media is one of the reasons why Norman has this extraordinary rapport. A lot of people on the show do social media, I just think it’s glorious. I think anything that promotes my love for Norman Reedus is beautiful.”
He’s raring for the next season to start coming out, thinking, as always, of the fans. “There’s stuff in there that we just shot not that long ago and it’s so exciting, but the fans have to wait for the premiere of the next season.” As cliche as it sounds, he does what he does for the fans: “We’re working so hard, it’s so fun to say: ‘Hey, we really are working on something super cool for you, you have to see this.’ It’s fun just to get the opportunity to show them: look what we’ve been making for you.”
And what of Fear the Walking Dead? They were at the last Comic-Con — the cast’s very first. Lincoln, of course, is now a veteran of the Comic-Con circuit. “I said, just try always remember to breathe,” he says, but really, there’s nothing he could’ve said to really help. “It’s such an extraordinary out-of-body experience…I’ve said it many times before, we all just hold hands and jump off a cliff together and that’s what we do and we hope that the parachutes open.”
After six seasons, most audiences would be tired of the same show, but The Walking Dead has a dedicated fanbase, and a “generosity of spirit” towards the new show. “I think the audience is very discerning and there is an appetite for this, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t take hold.”
There’s no worry with him about cannibalising viewers from his own show. “The shows are very different, which is what’s great about it. I think the only similarity is the themes of what people become, what the events around them turn those people into, but the shows couldn’t be more different…they’re so different that I’m curious for people to see it.”
Season 6 of The Walking Dead is now out on DVD and Bluray. Watch the Season 7 trailer here.