‘Walking Dead’: Greg Nicotero promises fan-friendly season 4 premiere

Oct. 13, 2013 | 8:00 a.m.
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Andrew Lincoln plays Rick Grimes and Chandler Riggs is Carl Grimes in "The Walking Dead." (Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

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Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes and Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene in "The Walking Dead." (Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Danai Gurira as Michonne in "The Walking Dead." (Frank Ockenfels / AMC)

“The Walking Dead” kicks off its fourth season on AMC on Sunday night, with “30 Days Without an Accident,” which critics have described as a quieter, more brooding installment than the action-packed season three finale that saw a showdown between Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and the ruthless Governor (David Morrissey), a face-off that resulted in a number of casualties.

Although the one-eyed villain escaped with his life, he won’t be the main threat facing Rick and his people, whose ranks have swollen thanks to an influx of newcomers. Instead, this season it will be the walkers posing the greatest danger, a fact confirmed by the show’s executive producer Greg Nicotero — the pioneering makeup effects artist who has now helmed six episodes of “The Walking Dead.”

Hero Complex caught up with Nicotero late last week to chat about what fans can expect as the show continues to adapt and expand on the world of Robert Kirkman’s post-apocalyptic comic book.

Check back Monday for the second part of our interview with Nicotero — in which he talks in detail about Sunday’s premiere — and click through the gallery above to get an early look at the upcoming season, the first under the supervision of new showrunner Scott M. Gimple.

Hero Complex: How was it directing the season premiere? Would you say this is the biggest episode you’ve done?

Greg Nicotero: I had a great time doing it. It was funny, I was on a producer call and all the producers were on, and they were gearing up for the moment to ask me to direct the premiere and I dropped the call. I called back in and [executive producer] Gale [Anne Hurd] was like, “You idiot, I just gave you this 30-second impassioned speech about how we’d be honored to have you direct the season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ and you weren’t there.” I said, “Well, can I still do it?”

HC: The show is so popular. Did you feel a special kind of pressure to live up to audience expectations?

GN: You always feel that pressure. You want to be faithful to the show. You want to give the fans what they want. You can’t help but feel it. What’s going to be great is they’re going to watch the first eight episodes and then they’re going to go back and watch the premiere again and learn so many more things that have been set up in that first episode that pay off later. For me the biggest challenge was taking the ship out of port. We had to check back in with all these characters and learn where everyone was.

HC: You talk about giving fans what they want. What do fans of “The Walking Dead” want most?

GN: I think fans of “The Walking Dead” want great characters and great horror. Last season I think we lost sight of a few of our more interesting characters, and I think that the point this year really is to give the fans what they want to see, which is each character being served with a beginning, a middle and an end of a story. [Last season] we lost a little bit of sight of Daryl, we lost a little bit of sight of Glenn. Glenn and Maggie in the second half of the season, that was basically their main story. Daryl was brought back into it with the Merle aspect of it. There were a few instances last season where characters did things that didn’t make any sense, Andrea doing this or, you know… I thought it was important to ground all of that.

HC: People can’t get enough of Daryl, so that seems like a sound strategy.

GN: Yes, it’s a very good strategy

HC: What can fans expect from this season?

GN: We’re going to get a chance to learn some of these characters’ back stories. We’re going to learn more about Michonne; we’re going to learn more about Bob Stookey; we’re going to learn more about Tyreese and the situations that all of them are in. Those great character moments are what are evocative of “The Walking Dead.” It’s not a situation where we’re going to go back in time. It’s not going to be one of those things, “Hey, in this week’s flashback episode of ‘The Walking Dead'”… But we are going to get to learn a lot more about these people. There are instances where, because we have such a big cast, that not every single character is featured in every single episode.

HC: Well, the cast has grown with the addition of the folks from Woodbury.

GN: We did a good job of destroying some of them in episode 2.

HC: So, with all the new cast members, it just means there are new characters to kill off, then?

GN: It’s kind of sad when you look at it that way, but you can’t get too attached to anybody on the set of “The Walking Dead.” That’s for sure.

— Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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4 Responses to ‘Walking Dead’: Greg Nicotero promises fan-friendly season 4 premiere

  1. Hehe says:

    I like cheese.

  2. Stephen says:

    How about stop repeating the boring monotony of season 2 stuck on a farm or prison and get it back on track to what Frank Darabont was doing and actually going somewhere geographically and exploring the extent and true hope potential of the epidemic rather than boring character development and token zombie kills every single episode.

    Its a dull, tired, boring show….take it off.

  3. Ben says:

    Even for a 'soap opera w/ zombies' it's exceedingly fake as to be cringe worthy.
    I.E. Zombies who have been milling about on a roof for months…suddenly begin raining down on the heads of our heros the minute they step into a store. Now, I can maybe understand a part of the roof giving way at the exact moment our faithful group is at their most vulnerable. But multiple, separate, spots in the roof suddenly giving way on the same day, the same minute? No. Sorry. But no.

    Also, Carla's answers to the Three Questiosn didn't make sense.
    If she really didn't kill anyone (before her attempt on Rick) then…uh, what's withthat?

    Also, she said you can never go back, but how would she even know?
    She never even tried.

    And this was the 1st episode of a new season, presumably, the high point for the next 2 months!

    Just in general, an

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