Norman talks about ‘Walking Dead’ fan favorite Daryl
Source: USA Today
Two things are a given when AMC’s The Walking Dead returns Sunday (9 ET/PT) with the long-awaited second half of Season 2:
The weary band of survivors of the zombie apocalypse (as well as fans) still will be reeling from events that occurred during last fall’s closing episode in which the horde of walkers hidden in Hershel’s barn — including Carol’s daughter, Sophia — are annihilated.
And fans will be thrilled to again hang out with Daryl Dixon, the show’s consummate hard-nosed survivalist, as portrayed by Norman Reedus— who is stalked by hordes of fans himself these days.
“It all comes down to Norman,” says executive producer Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comics (in which Dixon does not exist). “I feel absolutely blessed he has honored our show with his presence, and the way he has come in and taken over that role and defined Daryl Dixon.”
Just who is Dixon? One cranky redneck, who’s all business when it comes to staying alive. He can hunt squirrel and silently kill zombies with his crossbow. Last fall, Dixon had the knife skills and fortitude to disembowel a zombie and search its “gut bag” for body parts.
He also started showing a softer side as he grew closer to his fellow refugees and relentlessly hunted for the missing Sophia, one of two children living with the group.
Dixon’s many-layered personality, Reedus says, is part of his appeal. “Originally, he was supposed to be this angry guy with a racist viewpoint who hated everybody, and you’ve seen him grow and become a better person. Maybe that has something to do with it,” says Reedus, 43. “Daryl is this guy who needs a hug, but if you try to hug him, he’ll try to stab you. He doesn’t want to talk about his feelings, but you can tell there’s a lot of feelings bottled up.”
Says Kirkman: “A lot of Norman’s portrayal of the character in the first season inspired all the writers to do what we did with him in the second season. We love writing him and end up doing cool stuff with him.”
The actor has always courted cult appeal. The Boondock Saints, a 1999 dark action flick in which he starred with Sean Patrick Flanery and Willem Dafoe (and 2009 sequel The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day), has spawned its own fan sites, including theboondockbetties.com. Fans “will run across the street and tackle you to the ground,” Reedus says, “but The Walking Dead has definitely opened a lot of doors for me.”
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