To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.
When Melissa McBride made her debut on The Walking Dead, her character, Carol Peletier, was weak, meek, and dependent on an abusive husband. Seven years later, Carol is strong, savvy, a loyal warrior, and one of the most popular characters on the AMC hit. Walker Stalkers know a lot about Carol after her seven seasons on the show, but her Kentucky-bred actor alter ego is just as fascinating. Here are 10 things you need to know about Melissa McBride.
1. She used to work as a casting director.
She began her acting career in the 1990s, but in 2000 McBride switched gears and began working as a casting director for commercials and short films in Atlanta. “It was a whole different kind of fulfillment than acting,” McBride said in an interview. McBride never imagined she’d end up on a show like The Walking Dead herself, but she admits the show’s casting directors got it right. “To be quite honest, these characters are perfectly cast with the actors on the show,” she told AMC. “It’s such a talented cast, and it’s enjoyable to see people matched up so well.”
2. She previously worked with original TWD showrunner Frank Darabont in the movie The Mist.
During her casting-director days, McBride took a small role as “woman with the kids at home” in Darabont’s movie adaptation of the Stephen King novel, telling AMC that she took on the part only because Darabont was involved in the film. “Cut to three years later — I’m standing in the casting office, and I get a phone call from my agent saying, ‘Frank Darabont is shooting The Walking Dead in Atlanta and has a part for you if you want it,’” McBride revealed. “I was like, ‘What? Where did that come from?’ He is the man of great surprises in my life.”
3. She saved Carol’s life just as the character was about to be killed off.
McBride was sure that the Carol character would be a short-timer, and she was almost right. “I thought for sure I would be dead. When I got the job, [there was] no guarantee the character would be recurring,” the actress told Rolling Stone. McBride soon got the dreaded phone call from then-showrunner Glen Mazzara, saying he planned to kill Carol off. But McBride began to explain to all of the writers, who were on speakerphone, that there was still a lot to learn about Carol and that the character was “capable of so much more” if she could get out of that “cycle.” “I never heard words come out of my mouth so fast and so sure,” McBride revealed. “I was defending my own life.”
4. She shared an onscreen smooch with Dawson’s Creek heartthrob James Van Der Beek.
McBride’s first TV acting credit came in 1993 when she played Darlene Kellogg on an episode of Matlock. But five years later, she landed a dreamier role as Nina, a film buff who charmed Dawson after his breakup with Jen (Michelle Williams) in the Season 1 Dawson’s Creek episode “Road Trip.” She even kissed Dawson!
5. She showed off her ’90s perm in a commercial for Nexxus salons.
McBride not only cast future stars in commercials but starred in a few herself. In 1994, she showed off her permed locks for a commercial for Nexxus salons. Some of her other commercial clients included Rooms to Go and Ford, according to AJC.
6. She has a soft spot for classic TV sitcoms.
McBride currently stars in one of the scariest shows on TV, but back in the day, she preferred comedies. When asked by the Hollywood Reporter what her favorite TV show was when she was growing up, McBride, who grew up in the 1970s, rattled off a list of classics that included Mary Tyler Moore, That Girl, and The Brady Bunch.
7. She loves a hot cup of joe.
McBride is a self-professed coffee addict, and at one point her Twitter status described her as a “coffee junkie.”
— Lhachemi (@Lhachemi_) October 19, 2015
8. She’s the winner of two Saturn Awards for Best Supporting Actress.
The actress is the recipient of two prestigious awards presented by the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films for her work on The Walking Dead. “It feels really good to have your work recognized,” McBride told Entertainment Weekly. “To be recognized for the work I’ve done on this show, in particular, is very surprising. It’s surreal, humbling, and it felt really nice to be able to take one for the group because there aren’t enough awards for this show, I don’t think. This cast and this crew do a phenomenal job.”
9. She’s BFFs with her TWD co-star Norman Reedus.
There’s no denying McBride’s real-life affection for her co-star, who plays Daryl Dixon on the show. The duo’s social media pages frequently feature each other, and for McBride’s birthday, Reedus posted a pic professing his love for his TWD bestie. “I love my scenes with Norman,” McBride told AMC. “He is such a fun guy to be around and he throws in some great stuff. He’s always unpredictable and organic. It really is something that’s evolved. He gets me and I get him and I feel like Carol and Daryl are sort of the same way.”
10. She was the voice double for Anne Bancroft in the late actress’s final film.
McBride voiced several characters in the 2008 animated movie Delgo, where she was also a voice double for Anne Bancroft in some sequences so that the film could be finished after the legendary actress’s 2005 death. The movie was Bancroft’s final film and was dedicated to her.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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