‘The Walking Dead’ Cast Reflects On Greg Nicotero and Scott M. Gimple’s Legacy: ‘They Made Zombies Sexy’

After 11 seasons and 12 years, present and past cast members of “The Walking Dead” gathered together to celebrate the series finale at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Fans sat on risers yards away from the red carpet, cheering the names of their favorite actors, who spoke to Variety about all they were feeling.

“When we were first doing the pilot, everybody kept saying, ‘This probably won’t go any further, because it’s zombies.’ Everything at that time was vampires,’” said Lennie James, who stars in “The Walking Dead” and spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” as Morgan Jones. Reflecting on the work of Greg Nicotero, the series’ longtime director and executive producer, and Scott M. Gimple, the franchise’s chief content officer, James added, “What Gimple and Nicotero have done is they’ve made zombie sexy. They’ve made zombie scary. They’ve made zombies interesting. And they’ve used zombies to make comments on the world that we’re living in. A couple of years before this all happened, you never would have thought that was possible.”

“I’m very proud that Yumiko and Magna have a love scene together,” said Nadia Hilker when asked sticks with her about the experience. “I know there were a lot of homosexual characters on the show before, but we were like, ‘No, we want to we want to go there and make love.’ We fought really hard for that.”

When asked which character deaths throughout the series devastated them the most, most cast members pointed to Glenn Rhee, who was played by Steven Yeun. Via a sign language interpreter, Lauren Ridloff said, “It really, truly ruined to me. After that, I felt like I couldn’t trust ‘The Walking Dead.’ It broke my heart.”

Of course, “The Walking Dead” isn’t completely over. With two spinoffs already on the air and three more to come, the cast teased what else is brewing in the universe of the franchise.

Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, spoke about the upcoming “Dead City,” which centers her character and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan Smith.

“It’s so much fun to use the scale and the height and the danger of the concrete desolation of New York,” she said. “It’s obviously full of zombies. But there is a lot of there’s a lot of spooky dead space and a concrete jungle that we’ve been able to live in, and that gives the show a completely different feel.”

Norman Reedus made a similar comment about the French setting in the upcoming spinoff about his character, Daryl Dixon: “It’s a very different in tone. The sound is different; there’s a lot of French. We’re shooting in like castles. It’s epic in scale, but it’s a very singular vision and very poetic.”

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