Ten years. Ten seasons. Two spin-offs. And possibly three more films. The Walking Dead is gracing our TV screens once again for the 10th time! This week’s series opened with the episode entitled “Lines We Cross.” It picked up where the characters were left off from the previous season with a surprise first scene in space.
A lot has been said about the show and the phenomenon that it created on television and zombies (should we say Walkers?) becoming a staple in pop culture. But how do the cast members feel about their journey through The Walking Dead? We got the chance to talk to the man who plays Daryl Dixon himself, Norman Reedus.
Below, Norman shared both insider info and insights to The Walking Dead universe and all the important plot points for his character in Season 10! (Stream all seasons on Fox+!)
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What a journey it has been. While going through so many scripts prior to signing on the show, he read about it and knew exactly that this was the project he wanted to take on. “I remembered telling my agents, everybody at that time, ‘This is the one that I like.’ And everybody thought I was crazy. This will never take off,” shared Reedus. And that risk and eagerness to be involved in what would be an iconic show paid off ten years later. (Fun fact: The first season premiered on October 31, 2010!)
Daryl Dixon was introduced to us in Season 1 as a man who shares his brother’s, Merle, racist beliefs (although ambiguously). He’s always had a serious demeanor with a bit of a temper. He was, however, a valuable part of the core group of survivors because of his expertise in hunting animals, on-point navigation skills and a prowess in killing those walkers.
“He’s changed tremendously. Every year his character takes on new responsibilities and having new characters to deal with. He’s finding his sense of self-worth. Every single year, he finds a little bit more about the person he’s meant to be. It has changed so much since Season 1,” added Reedus.
The Daryl Connection. Daryl Dixon has always been a fan-favorite. He is, after all, one of two of the original characters that has survived since the show premiered. He was more than just Rick Grimes’ right-hand man wielding his crossbow. We’ve seen him grow from an aloof person to someone who will move mountains to protect the people he cares about.
Norman related this fondness for his character by how much Daryl has progressed from being a “nasty” onion to slowly being peeled apart into being the good guy. “If he came out with a cape, you would’ve been bored with him in the first five minutes. We played him as a guy who was finding himself while everyone else was discovering him as well. Now he’s that guy, reluctantly or not, will fight for you to the death and he always has your back.”
It’s always been about people and not the Walkers. The Walking Dead was at the helm of the zombie trend and fascination for the apocalypse. While everyone was on-board tagging the show as a zombie series, Norman thought otherwise. “I didn’t read zombies in it. Some people that never watched the show thought that was a zombie show. But it’s never been a zombie show. That’s just the backdrop. It’s always been about people. People’s relationship to other people and what you’re willing to fight for it,” he shared.
“I think that’s always been part of the narrative of the show–to fight and finding hope. I think when you watch people find connections between each other in the worst possible circumstance, I think it’s pretty fascinating. If you’re a fan of human connection, you’ll like our show.”
Sweet Carol Line. Aside from being one of the longest surviving character on the show, Carol Peletier was one of the characters that Daryl has had a close bond with. Both characters were shipped so hard by fans of the show. But through all nine seasons so far, it has always been platonic between the two of them. Norman had the following to say about this.
“The Carol and Daryl relationship–it’s stronger than ever. We are the last two original characters left. And you can tell, those two characters, especially when they’re together, are pretty unstoppable. There’s a common communication between them that is unique based on the people that they see come and go.”
Dog lives. In Season 9, fans were so endeared by Daryl’s Belgian Malinois called Dog. There was even a petition to not let Daryl Dixon’s four-legged best friend die or else they won’t watch the show anymore. However, The Walking Dead has a thing for twists and pets like Tabitha, Shiva and Violet have met their ends.
“Don’t be nervous about my dog. Everybody knows I love this dog so much. Dog is going to be heroic this year. He’s such a good element to the show. I’ve been pitching Daryl having a dog since Season Two. I’ve been super protective of Dog,” said Norman. He also added that a Dog action figure is coming out soon!
“This season is so good.” Every season, we are treated to so many plot twists and cliffhangers. We’ve watched with bated breath every single time a character was in battle or when one of them eventually dies. Norman told us what to expect this season: “It’s better than ever. We showed the first episode to the crew just to show them what it looks like, and everybody was blown away. They’ve been talking about it for 48 straight hours. The crew is our biggest critics. We’re with them every single day. We get by with the crew, we know we’re on the right track. We definitely see we’re on the right track this season.”
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Photos courtesy of AMC | Special thanks to Stephanie Mazinyi of GOLIN