We talked to the cast and crew of The Walking Dead, and they told us what to expect for season two, why we won't be seeing any celebrity zombies, and why Frank Darabont doesn't want the show to become Lost.
At last weekend's Comic-Con panel, executive producer Frank Darabont promised that the season picks up just five minutes after the end, so there's none of what he called "this six months later crap." This season finds them pretty much constantly on the run - including an epic sequence where they have to cross a zombie-infested highway - with even the small safety net of last year's camp gone. They will eventually reach a minor safe haven at Herschel's farm, which will introduce a bunch of new characters, but it sounds like the season might essentially be one long chase scene.
Most of the actors refused to say much of anything regarding the new season, citing a long list of topics they had been told they couldn't discuss. (To give you some idea, Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal had a lengthy discussion about whether they could confirm the existence of a shooting location that had actually been shown in the season two trailer - they decided, ultimately, that they could not.) The main takeaway was that the group will be splintering, and Lincoln explained that that is in part because Rick makes a seriously bad decision.
Laurie Holden, who plays Andrea on the show, did provide some insight into what her character's arc will be after her would-be suicide at the CDC:
Andrea has a little bit of anger this season. You'd think she'd perhap be a little more grateful to Dale for saving her, but no. I think she feels that she was a bit manipulated, that that wasn't the choice she wanted to make but she didn't want to have any blood on her hands. So, anytime anything goes wrong, it's, "See, Dale? See, Dale?"
She and costar Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, both said the characters are grappling with figuring out reasons to survive. Reedus said some do it for family, but others are just trying to find something to hold onto or to find a place in the group. Speaking of inter-group relationships, Steve Yeun pretty much confirmed that Glenn will pursue a relationship with Lauren Cohan's new character Maggie Greene, mirroring the comics. No other relationships were mentioned specifically, but Norman Reedus simply and eloquently declared, "I'm not in the comic book so I can nail anybody."
Frank Darabont promised that there would be a key flashback in the first half of season two, and it was give us a look at Lori and Shane before the zombie outbreak. This, he said, would be the first time we really get to see the characters cleaned up and living a safe, normal life. Darabont went on and explained that, while there was obviously an appeal to using flashbacks, they didn't want to use that as a storytelling crutch - in part, he said, because they didn't want to just copy Lost - and so their rule is that flashbacks can only appear as the teaser before the opening credits, so that they remain separate from the story.
Darabont also touched on the show's zombie roots. He said the run through the cemetery glimpsed in the trailer was only an accidental nod to Night of the Living Dead, and it was actually just used on the day of filming because it was too good a location to pass up. He did say that they like the idea of sticking in homages to classics of the zombie genre, but only as long as those references don't break the reality of the world - Darabont pointed to the "football player zombie" or "ballerina zombie" as classic zombie images that you won't ever see on the show, because, as he put it, who in their right mind would go to ballet practice when the world is being overrun by zombies?
Darabont and special effects creator Greg Nicotero were asked about celebrities ever making a cameo appearance as one of the walkers. Darabont said they had nothing against this idea, and said plenty of people had asked them, including pretty much the entire cast of fellow AMC shnow Mad Men, but the logistics make it pretty much impossible. As Nicotero explained, not only do they have to come to Atlanta for shooting, the make-up process takes so long and is so hot on the zombie actors that, in practice, it's pretty unlikely that this will happen.
The Walking Dead returns this October - check out the trailer here.