'The Walking Dead': Norman Reedus's Brush With Death

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) in "The Walking Dead" episode, "Home." (Gene Page/AMC)

Fans of the TV show "The Walking Dead" probably can't imagine a zombie apocalypse universe that doesn't include actor Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. But a near-fatal car accident in 2005 almost meant that the series would have happened without him.

In the March 15 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Reedus shares the horrific details of the crash that left him thinking he would never be able to act again.

After attending the Berlin Film Festival that February, Reedus went to an R.E.M. concert and left the show in a car that singer Michael Stipe had lent him. "We drove a few feet and just -- BLOOSH! -- an 18-wheeler went right through us," Reedus told the magazine.

He was flung out the car window and woke up in the street with a woman picking glass off of his face. After several operations -- which included four screws being placed in his nose and his left eye socket being replaced with titanium -- Reedus says, "My whole head was like hamburger. It was just gnarly. I thought, 'I'm never going to be an actor again. This is over.'"

Four months of recovery allowed him to heal back into the actor that "Dead" fans know and love; and a few years, a crossbow, and a great shag haircut later, he's enjoying the role of his career as our beloved Daryl.

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Reedus already had a devoted base from his co-starring role in the cult drama "Boondock Saints" and its 2009 sequel, but for those who are relatively new Reedus devoted, here are seven more things you might not have known about the actor:

1. Reedus's connection to R.E.M.: He starred in the band's 1995 video for "Strange Currencies." He's also starred in videos for Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees," Bjork's "Violently Happy," and Lady Gaga's "Judas," in which he pours a can of beer all over her behind.

2. Reedus has a 13-year-old son named Mingus, after jazz legend Charles Mingus. Mingus's mama: supermodel Helena Christensen, Reedus's girlfriend from 1998 to 2003. And yes, Mingus does have Daryl Dixon action figures in his room.

3. He didn't want to be an actor until someone at a party suggested that he try acting. Growing up, he wanted to be a marine biologist. "I remember watching shows of Jacques Cousteau. He was so cool!" Reedus told Ladygunn magazine. "He seemed to have the best life. I wanted to be him."

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4. Big Bald Head is the name of Reedus's production company, his website, and his Twitter account (@wwwbigbaldhead). The name comes from the lyrics of the song "Sharkey's Day," by Laurie Anderson, which was played at the first concert he ever attended. His website includes examples of his photography -- he's also a painter and sculptor -- and digital downloads of three short films he directed -- "The Rub," "I Thought of You," and "A Filthy Little Fruit" -- that are available for sale.

5. Daryl Dixon is not a character in "The Walking Dead" comic books. When Reedus auditioned for the "Walking Dead" TV show's producers, they were so impressed by his performance that they created the Daryl character just for him. Reedus says that initially Daryl was written just to be very angry, but he has softened Daryl along the way. "I'm trying to play him as a virgin who was constantly put down and had to fight for everything, as someone with a huge chip on his shoulder," he told Flaunt magazine. "In television, you kind of have to plant these little seeds and hope that those trees bear fruit. So I'm constantly trying to look for little moments and make this guy evolve."

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6. His past work also includes repairing Harley-Davidsons at Dr. Carl's Hog Hospital in Venice and modeling for Prada in 1997, though he says that before the modeling gig, he owned just one suit, which he shared with six friends. His future work includes the movie "Sunlight Jr.," in which his character is in a love triangle with Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon. It premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.

7. How do Norman Reedus fans show their love for the actor? There's the "Norman Reedus is Awesome" Pinterest board, a "Daryl x Carol" Tumblr page, fan groups like The Reedusluts and Dixon's Vixens … and then there are the goodies he gets in the mail from Reedus devoted, including, he told EW, Daryl Dixon blankets, sex toys, squirrel meat, and, from one fan, a silicone breast implant that he now uses as a phone cradle in his trailer on the "Walking Dead" set.

See Reedus as Daryl Dixon on "The Walking Dead": 

"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.