Q: Now that The Walking Dead is in its third season, what aspects of the show still surprise you?
A: The show just surprises me and brutalizes me. I was just taking to Scott Wilson, and we were just riffing on how extraordinary how this show is. The only downer is the fact that we lose people. You make these incredibly brilliant and intense relationships with truly gifted actors and invariably they get bitten, and I have to kill them. And it is kind of the big downer on what is becoming the single greatest job of my career. In the space of three years I’ve done more gymnastics on this show then I have in probably four or five years. It’s been an incredible journey, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, although it would have been nice to have a couple of more seasons with Sarah [Wayne Callies].
Q: Are you starting to feel like your character — a leader among the company of actors?
A: I don’t know. I just try and do my job. If people look to me, that’s great. But acting is not like Enron; it’s not a corporate exercise. People have their own ways of working and I’m very much of the opinion that you create a space that people can feel relaxed and comfortable and able to work in. I don’t feel that fear is a good incentive on a film set. It’s not the way I respond to work; so if anything I just try and make people feel at ease and happy and wanting to come to work and do their best. And as a leader, I try and create an environment where people can risk and dare to look stupid. Then again, if I’m on set with Scott Wilson, who’s worked for fifty years, I bow at the seat of that. I call him Lionheart; the guy is a god!
Q: After Lori dies, Rick goes through a total mental breakdown. What’s it like to lose your mind?
A: If they kill my wife, you know what I mean, it’s the real deal for me. She deserved everything. I came into the writers’ room and said, “What do you think Rick’s breaking point is?” And this is what they came up with. I wanted to drop the gun, I wanted to fall, all of these things, and I wanted you to see this man who has led these people and been so strong, fall to the ground broken. I had an acting teacher who always said that even when you’re ripping your guts out with emotion, it should be catharsis. Not many people get to do that in their lives full-stop.
Q: In Episode 8, Rick finally gets to see Woodbury. What was your take on the town?
A: I hate Woodbury! I actively feel nauseous when I go there. I hate everybody in it, I just can’t stand to look at the place. I love the prison, it’s beautiful.
Q: You’ve spent nearly three years in Georgia filming the show. Are you starting to feel like a bit of a Southerner now?
A: I think I’m a Southern British now. This is the one time that I talk in British. My family has gone home now — honestly man it won’t be long it before I’m completely integrated. I totally love this part of the world. Almost three-quarters of my year is spent in America now. I love this country and I’m very excited to be here now. You know, even in spite of the brutal summer and ridiculous weather we get, this part of the world here around Georgia is really beautiful.
Q: How does that Southern influence permeate the set?
A: People are really cool here. They feel it’s our homegrown show. When people come down to work here we really go off into this bubble. It’s not about the business side of things down here. We just get down and get sweaty and dirty and get on with it.