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Norman Reedus in ‘Ride With Norman Reedus’ (AMC)
Okay, if you’re one of the truly die-hard Norman Reedus fans, the ones who spend a good portion of their days plotting just how to get the chance to meet and lick the man so cool that The Walking Dead powers that be created a character just for him, you may be familiar with many of the following facts.
But for those who less obsessively appreciate his talents (not that we’re judging), read on for some fresh deets on the star of AMC’s charming new road trip reality series Ride with Norman Reedus, premiering Sunday.
1. His favorite episode of The Walking Dead is Season 4’s “Still,” a.k.a. the one where Daryl and Beth drink moonshine and bond after running away from the prison together following The Governor’s attack.
Reedus and Emily Kinney in ‘The Walking Dead’ (Gene Page/AMC)
2. Reedus’s parents weren’t together while he and his younger sister Leslie were growing up, and his businessman father was rarely in his life when he was a child. But the two reconciled before his father died in 2002 — he has “Norman” tattooed on his chest in honor of his dad, Norman Sr. — and Reedus told EW.com that he used the memory of his father’s death to evoke Daryl’s emotional response to brother Merle’s death in Season 3’s “This Sorrowful Life” episode of TWD.
3. His mother, Marianne, was once a Playboy Bunny, who also taught kindergarten, high school, and ran an orphanage and school in Kurdistan. She’s also a Carol-and-Daryl shipper who, Reedus says, thinks actress Melissa McBride would make a nice real-life match for her son.
4. Fans of The Walking Dead present Reedus with so many Daryl-related gifts that he dedicates three rooms in his New York City apartment to collecting some of his favorite keepsakes. Among the most unusual items he’s been given: a breast implant, which he uses as a cell phone holder in his TWD trailer, and a bag of, well, he explains it best. “One girl handed me a bag of meat… it was sort of in this yellow oil, and she said it was squirrel,” Reedus told the Los Angeles Times. “She goes, ‘I hunted it down with a shovel.’ That was pretty weird."
5. He’s also a photographer and artist, and says he once sculpted a very anatomically detailed vagina out of pieces of a busted up rock.
6. Reedus was nearly killed in a 2005 accident in Berlin, when a car that was taking him back to his hotel after an REM concert was hit by a semi-truck. He spent four months in a Berlin hospital recuperating — and now sports a titanium eye socket as a result — but got so bored during his recovery that he agreed to leave the hospital to star in a friend’s short film, Meet Me in Berlin, about a man who misses a planned date with a woman because he gets into a car accident, in Berlin.
7. Reedus’s first TV role was a guest stint on Charmed, where he played Nate Parks, the boyfriend of Rose McGowan’s Paige… until she found out he was a married man and father of two.
8. He got his Screen Actors Guild card with the 1997 Guillermo del Toro sci-fi/horror flick Mimic, in which he gets eaten by a cockroach.
9. He dropped out of high school to move to Tokyo, then London, then Spain (where he supported himself by selling paintings of stray cats), then he followed a girlfriend to Los Angeles, where he would be “discovered” as an actor after being fired from his job at a motorcycle shop called Dr. Carl’s Hog Hospital. While drunk at a party with a friend, a producer asked him if he wanted to be in a play. The production, called Maps for Drowners, also starred a pre-Friends Lisa Kudrow. P.S. The girlfriend he followed to L.A. broke up with him to marry someone else.
10. He later modeled for Prada… in a tuxedo. Explaining his surprise at being asked to model for the company, he told an interviewer, “I mean, I’m short and fat and drink beer.”
11. The members of KISS are such fans of his that they once delayed an Atlanta concert until he could drive from the Walking Dead set to take a selfie with them before their trademark makeup wore off during the show.
12. Reedus once co-owned his own art gallery, Collective Hardware, in Manhattan.
13. He’s a self-described neat freak whose favorite household maintenance item is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
14. Reedus was considered for the role of George Clooney’s character’s father in Tomorrowland, but he had to reject the project, he says, when director Brad Bird insisted that he cut his hair. “It went down to the last minute, and everyone knew I couldn’t cut my hair,” Reedus told Details magazine. “Then, I think [Bird] threw a fit and was like, ‘If he’s not dedicated to this role and he can’t cut his hair, then it’s not going to work.’ I’m on a f–kin’ TV show! I can’t just shave my head!”
15. Reedus’s 16-year-old son, Mingus (his mother is supermodel and Reedus ex Helena Christensen), started a band called God Fart. Norman also had a band as a teenager: Vicious Prick. He says the group sang Black Flag songs… badly.
Reedus with son Mingus (Getty Images)
16. Some things about fatherhood terrify him. Like… "Have you ever sat in a parent-teacher meeting with a bunch of moms and you? That’s terrifying,” he told Elle.com. “I did that recently, where I was sitting in a room with all moms and me. And everyone’s talking about how we should structure this after-school program, and I’m just like 'Ah!’”
17. At age 12, Reedus briefly played on the junior tennis circuit that would help launch the career of Andre Agassi.
18. Reedus ate Thanksgiving dinner with the Duck Dynasty cast, who are fans of The Walking Dead, in 2013.
19. Reedus wanted to make a movie about New York City drag queen prostitute Margo Howard-Howard, author of the memoir I Was a White Slave in Harlem, but the project stalled when the friend who had agreed to star in the film — Heath Ledger — died.
20. His third movie was 1997’s Six Ways to Sunday, in which his Harry Odum is an aspiring mobster with a Norman Bates-ish split personality and relationship with his controlling mother, played by rock legend Debbie Harry. Spoiler alert: Mother and son sleep together in the end, after which Mama Odum commits suicide.
Reedus with Debbie Harry in ‘Six Ways to Sunday’ (Scout Productions)
21. There are few comedy entries on Reedus’s lengthy resume, but he did make a cameo in last year’s Vacation reboot, playing a truck driver who does a good deed… but with suspect motives.
22. Reedus’s first experience as a producer came with the 2015 sci-fi thriller Air (also produced by TWD creator Robert Kirkman). But the film will probably live on in his memory as the one where he broke a toe by kicking co-star Djimon Hounsou’s foot. “I had him hold the bottom of his foot so I could start kicking [it],” Reedus told InsideMovies.com. “But he’s so rock hard and made of muscle that I broke my toe when I was doing it. They had to take me to the emergency room in the middle of the night.”
23. He thinks he owes his success to his scowl. "I’m still insecure, but when I first started acting, I was really insecure,” he’s said. “I glared at a lot of people. I assumed everyone hated me. Somehow that scowl has turned into an acting career. And I kill someone in everything I do, so… ."
24. He doesn’t memorize TWD scripts until the day his scenes are filmed.
25. When he wants to roam through Comic-Con in San Diego undetected, his disguise of choice is often a panda bear head.
Ride with Norman Reedus premieres June 12 at 10 p.m. on AMC.