Now that we know for certain that next week's Walking Dead midseason finale will revolve around the Grimes gang's efforts to rescue Beth and Carol from Grady Memorial — and all that will entail — no one, it seems, has more to lose than Daryl, BFF (and more?) to the two tough women stuck inside the hospital with Dawn and her minions.
Norman Reedus talks to Yahoo TV about how Daryl has evolved into one of the group's most competent and confident leaders, dissects his feelings for Beth and Carol — including his thoughts on any "Caryl" and "Bethyl" romance potential — and does nothing to lessen our worries about the possibility of a crushing death in next week's "Coda."
And for anyone who's ever wished they could clone Andrew Lincoln (one of Reedus's real-life BFFs), he shares how he got a jump on that, thanks to a shaven beard and a Ziploc bag.
Daryl disagrees with Rick and backs Tyreese's more conservative approach to rescuing Carol and Beth. That's a much more confident, leader-ready Daryl. What has gotten him to this point?
I think these characters, as the stories progress and the characters know each other more and more, I think they give each other these little gifts. There's a core group of us that are a really tight family, and we've been on this journey for a while now, and really have each other’s backs.
In last week's episode, when Carol wanted to go put down the kid behind the glass, Daryl said, "You don't have to." He didn't tell her he was going to do it; he just did it while she was asleep. I think during that moment [when Rick is planning to massacre everyone at Grady], when Rick's having a dark moment in his mind... Daryl has a little mini freak-out and, in his mind, he's like, "I need to cling onto the hope that we aren't that." Rick does an about-face. It’s like he gives Daryl a gift and says, "You're right." I think, as these stories go on and as these characters get closer and closer, all these little moments have big impacts.
Was Daryl's confidence bolstered by what Carol said to him in "Consumed," when she told him he had become a man? He obviously respects what she says and what she thinks of him.
Early on, when we lost Sophia, Daryl was like, "I'm going to go find her." Rick would say, "No, wait for us, let's make a plan." Daryl would always say, "No, man, I'm better off on my own." It's just how he saw himself. He was this lone-wolf type of a guy. Back then, he had such a chip on his shoulder. He spoke out of the side of his face, and he wouldn't really make eye contact with you unless he was screaming at you. It shows a certain amount of guilt and him being ashamed of the person that he is.
As the series has progressed, he looks you directly in the eye, and he means what he says. I think he's definitely found a sense of self-worth through these people, but he's always been that guy who's like, "I'll do it." "You need baby formula? This baby's not going to die; I'm going to find it." "You need this? I'm going to go find it." I think now he's much more confident, as we all are. Look at Carol. Carol's so much more confident than she was. Glenn's more confident. Everybody is. I think you have to be a badass to survive right now, or hide behind a badass.
Everyone loves Carol and Beth and wants to rescue them, but the stakes are highest for Daryl, aren't they? These are the only people he's allowed himself to be completely vulnerable with.
Absolutely, yeah. Those two ladies mean so much to Daryl. I think those two females symbolize so much for him. A hope, and a friendship, and a compassion. And he probably doesn't even realize what that means. I know that everyone's trying to set Daryl up with someone.
When he was alone with Beth [in Season 4's "Still"], I don't know that he knew what those feelings meant, but they were feelings. It wasn't so much a love affair as it was like, "Things can be good. Maybe you're the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's, and you're going to show me where all the candy is." And the same with Carol. Carol means so much to him, and they're so similar. He's trying to keep the fire burning in her, and she's put out that fire, built her own fires. Burned things down. Burned people up. There's a whole bunch of symbolic gestures in all these episodes, but I think the stakes are super high for him, and he'll do anything to get his two girls back.
Congratulations on your DIY weapon skills, ripping off that walker skull to fend off the hospital cop.
[Laughs.] I haven't seen it yet. How did I look? That was so fun to do. Did it look alright?
It looked great.
That's so cool. That was so funny walking around with that in my hand all day long. It's kind of awesome. It was particularly disgusting, but kind of fun at the same time.
Did you want to keep it? Do you ever want to keep those really outrageous props?
I do, yeah. I want to keep them all. It's funny, because I have... they shaved Andy [Lincoln’s] beard off for one of the episodes, and I actually have his beard in my refrigerator in a Ziploc bag right now. I try to keep as much stuff as possible. The fun stuff.
You have the whole beard in a Ziploc bag?
Oh, yeah. Not only do I have the beard in a Ziploc bag, I actually tweeted a picture of it, because Andy and I did this speaking engagement, and they noticed his beard was off, and then he said, "Yeah, and the weirdest thing is, Norman has my beard." I said, "Yeah, I have it in a Ziploc bag in my refrigerator," so I tweeted a picture of the bag in my refrigerator with his beard in it. Then the Ziploc company sent me a box full of Ziploc stuff and a little note saying, "Just in case Chandler [Riggs's] beard grows in and you want to keep that one, too." I thought that was pretty funny: a company with a sense of humor.
Why is it in the refrigerator?
I have this tendency to put everything in the refrigerator. I think growing up in not very fancy apartments, where there tends to be a lot of bugs and so forth... I still carry that over into my adult life and seem to put everything in the refrigerator, from potato chips to bread to granola. It's still a habit of mine.
And Andy has no interest in getting the beard back for himself?
Oh, he's never getting that beard back. He's never, ever going to get it. That's how much I love Andrew Lincoln. I stole his DNA.
You will clone him someday.
Mmm-hmmm. I will.
You tweeted a text conversation with your mom last week, where she revealed she's not only a Carol fan, but a Melissa McBride fan. Is Mom going to be inviting Melissa for Thanksgiving? Is she trying to hook that up?
That was just my mom being my mom. I thought it was cute, so I posted it, and it went everywhere. I think my mom probably sees a lot of herself in Carol, to be honest. My mom's a really tough cookie, and she's lived all over the world. She ran a school in Kurdistan recently. She taught high school in the Bronx and kindergarten in Harlem. She's a very colorful badass, and I feel like she probably sees herself in Carol a little bit, you know, a fighter who gets things done. That would be Mom's hero on the show.
Heading into this midseason finale, we know there's a showdown coming between Daryl's group and the people at Grady. How will this differ from past showdowns, like with the Governor or the people from Terminus?
Oh, it's different. They're completely different, actually. There's a... how do I put this and not give anything away? It's the difference between a really hard Led Zeppelin song and a really, really soft one. You know what I mean?
It promises to be especially emotional for Daryl, with the stakes of rescuing his two favorite people. Does it change him going into the second half of the season?
Oh yeah, it changes all of us. All of us change dramatically.
Are you finished filming on Season 5?
I'm headed back to set in about an hour. But I might just be going back to say goodbye to everyone; you never know.
You shouldn't joke about that. The people have spoken... they will riot.
[Laughs.] I might be going there to clean out my trailer; you never know.
The midseason finale of The Walking Dead airs Sunday, Nov. 30 at 9 p.m. on AMC.