‘Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara: Comic fans won’t guess what’s coming

Feb. 07, 2013 | 3:30 p.m.

Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride), left, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Carol (Melissa Suzanne McBride) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Andrea (Laurie Holden) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Andrea (Laurie Holden) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

Andrea (Laurie Holden) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

The Governor (David Morrissey) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

The Governor (David Morrissey) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Tina Rowden / AMC)

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) in a scene from an episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward guest stars as a walker in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who also popped up in "The Dark Knight Rises," gets made up as a zombie for his guest appearance in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward, left, and special effects makeup artist Kevin Wasner show off Hines' jersey number in bruises on the back of his head. Hines makes a guest appearance as a walker in Sunday's episode of "The Walking Dead," "The Suicide King." (Gene Page / AMC)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward on the set of "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward guest stars as a walker in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

AMC’s hit zombie series “The Walking Dead” returns for the second half of its third season Sunday with an installment titled “The Suicide King.” The run of eight episodes marks the end of the line for departing show runner Glen Mazzara, who leaves his position as a result of creative differences with the network.

Word of his departure came as a shock to fans. Mazzara, of course, is the second show runner in just three seasons to part from “The Walking Dead” under mysterious circumstances — series creator Frank Darabont left the show during the production of Season 2, and the series thrived during his tenure, enjoying remarkable success in its third season. The show kicked off to record-breaking ratings this past October and remained wildly popular with audiences and critics, who praised “The Walking Dead” for its complex examination of a world after the fall of humanity.

Hero Complex sat down with the experienced producer earlier this week for a detailed conversation; in Part 1 of the interview, Mazzara talked in general terms about the direction the remainder of the season will take. Here he addresses his departure from the series and what lies ahead for him creatively.

Beware, major spoilers lie ahead for anyone not fully caught up with the episodes that have previously aired.

HC: We lost both Lori and T-Dog so far this season. Are there characters you can’t kill?

GM: Every day I get tweets from people saying, “If you kill Daryl, we riot.” I’ll say this: I would never kill a character just to shock the audience. It’s about finding further story. When Dale was killed that put Shane in motion, when Shane is trying to kill Rick, Rick ends up stepping up as leader, that puts his marriage in jeopardy. It affects Carl. Carl was also affected with Lori’s death. All these deaths are very meaningful. So if there was a story in which killing Rick or Daryl or Hershel or anybody, the Governor, Andrea, Maggie, really affected the surviving characters and led to other stories I would do it. That would obviously be a big deviation from the book but in my mind when I’ve said no one is safe, I’ve been 100% sincere.

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) share a heart-breaking moment in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) share a heartbreaking moment in “The Walking Dead.” (Gene Page / AMC)

HC: In an earlier interview, you referred to having a “long-term” plan for the Governor. Might that plan extend into Season 4?

GM: If you look at what we’ve done with the governor, we’ve taken our time to introduce that character, develop him. We always had developed him with a long-term arc in mind. I think David [Morrissey] is doing an incredible job fleshing out that arc. In the comic book, the Governor is fully formed. He’s fully evil and he commits some very heinous acts. Robert [Kirkman] has gone back and written novels with another author to fill in that arc, to show how he committed those heinous acts. We are also very concerned with making sure that when he commits any exceedingly violent acts or brutal, cruel acts that the audience understands why he’s doing so. We’ve just chosen to put that development on screen for the audience to understand that journey whereas in the comic book he was pretty much fully formed and they went back in another medium and discovered that.

Robert Kirkman (Megan Mack / MorrisonCon)

Robert Kirkman (Megan Mack / MorrisonCon)

HC: Should audiences expect further departures from the narrative of Kirkman’s comic book in the coming episodes?

GM: We’ll continue to take the comic book as inspiration. AMC and Robert Kirkman have always said, Use the book as a guidepost and make it your own. That’s something we’ve done and will continue to do. We’ve already deviated from the Governor’s storyline in interesting ways, it’s a matter of continuing to tell that story and being honest and true to the essence of what’s there. But comic books fans will not be able to guess what’s coming.

PHOTOS: On the set of ‘The Walking Dead’

HC: You’re obviously moving on. What are you proudest of achieving with the show?

GM: I think the thing I’m proudest about is telling a complicated, multi-layered story on a big stage that has connected with so many people around the world. That’s really what we try to do as storytellers, to say something that means something to people. The ratings are nice and the critical reviews are nice, but it emotionally means something to people, to connect. That’s been the thing I’m proudest about. I think after this season is done, I think people will go back and watch it. People seem to have incorporated it into their lives in some way, the same way we all have a favorite album or a favorite book or a favorite movie. It’s more than just a season of TV, it’s something that really meant something to people.

HC: Is leaving bittersweet?

GM: I love the show, I love working on the show, I love the people I work with, I love connecting with the fans. As we were looking at the show moving ahead, there were differences with what I wanted to do and what AMC wanted to do, so I think it was best for the show for me to leave, go my way and let them go their way and tell a story that they want to tell and I’ll go tell other stories that I want to tell. It’s never easy to leave something but I think I’m leaving at a good point, I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done. I’m leaving at the end of the season.

HC: Was this strictly about storytelling choices? 

GM: It’s creative differences with AMC. It’s not one particular thing, it’s not I wanted to do this and they wanted to do that. It’s not that easy. I’ve been running this show for two seasons, we’ve gone through a lot of material…. If you look at, say, the back part of last season and this whole season, I’ve collaborated with a lot of people on that work, so I am collaborative. But at some point, you say  it’s best to just part ways and keep everything amicable.

HC: So this wasn’t a disagreement with, say, Kirkman, about the direction the show should go?

GM: I will say that it’s an AMC creative difference issue.

HC: What’s next for you?

GM: I’ve been meeting with different people to think about who I want to work with and what I want to do. I think people realize that I could tell a complicated story on a big canvas, that this was a tough show in the sense that there’s a lot of characters, different storylines were introduced, it unfolded in a way that kept people on the edge of their seat and yet hopefully nobody felt anything was glossed over. I think we got the most out of Lori’s death; we’ll continue to do so. I think people realize I have something to offer, I have some experience, I’m interested in telling those things that push the envelope, that push the boundaries. This is a unique genre, this hasn’t been done on TV before. I don’t want to talk about specific things. The projects I want to do? None of that has ever been done on TV before. I have three big ideas and none of them have ever been done on TV before.

Glen Mazzara photographed in May, 2012. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Glen Mazzara photographed in May 2012. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

HC: Are these projects original concepts or adaptations of existing material?

GM: Two are original concepts and one’s an adaptation of something that’s never been adapted before, something that means a lot to me personally … I want to sort of go and  create my own world and my own set of characters and my own show. “The Walking Dead” will hopefully at least let people take a chance on me.

HC: Is it fair to say that you’re likely to do some sort of dark drama?

GM: I will say that. Glen Mazzara’s “Glee” spinoff is not happening. Let me nix those rumors. I definitely like writing for cable. I like the opportunities that cable affords you, I like the chances you can take there. I like the idea that an audience will give a cable show time to build. There may be opportunities on network, but I think right now my heart is writing for cable. Believe it or not, a scene like in “The Walking Dead,” where the prisoners beat down the zombies in the second episode, that to me is a comic scene. I could argue that there’s a lot of comedy in “The Walking Dead” because I’m such a dark, sick, twisted mind. I think I’m the only one who thinks that.

HC: Scott Gimple has been tapped to take over for you as show runner. Do you have any words of advice to offer him?

GM: I wish Scott a lot of luck, he’s a talented writer. But it would not be fair for me to comment on any creative direction he’s going to take. He needs to find his own feet, like I had to find my feet following Frank. I wish him luck.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

RECENT AND RELATED

‘Walking Dead’: Glen Mazzara talks war, revenge, hope

‘Walking Dead’ star Danai Gurira: Michonne, Rick and PTSD

Q&A: Norman Reedus is go-to guy in zombie times

Danai Gurira doubles as Michonne and a playwright

‘Walking Dead’: Glen Mazzara promises action

Steven Yeun: Changes are ahead for Glenn

Glen Mazzara talks ‘long-term’ plan for The Governor

Sarah Wayne Callies’ Lori is ‘seeking redemption’

‘Walking Dead’: Michonne actress talks katana skills

‘Walking Dead’: Audio clip from ‘Road to Woodbury’

‘Walking Dead’ set: Michonne but no zombies?

Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close
E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis