The Walking Dead Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd talks about Season 4’s ravenous new walkers and which characters from the show would make great producers.
Q: Sports teams have a boot camp-like practice to get back in shape for the season. What do you do to get everyone back in the swing of things on the set of The Walking Dead?
A: We have to hit the ground running every season. We do have zombie school every year, so our walkers get up to speed. It’s really more of a winnowing-out process — that extras who are eager to become zombies come in and audition for Greg [Nicotero] and he selects the ones that are most unique and believable. But in general, this is our fourth season, and people are so eager to get back. After the first set-up this year, everyone applauded and cheered.
Q: Every year the walkers show us something new. What can fans expect from Season 4’s walkers?
A: I think we’ll have walkers who are even more ravenous than before. We’re in a world where there are fewer people and more walkers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw that on-screen this season.
Q: What’s been one of the biggest challenges of producing a show like The Walking Dead?
A: We have serious weather issues to contend with. We had one day where there was a torrential downpour and a tree fell on the set, so you just have to roll with stuff like that. Other times, you realize that a character that you thought might live actually has to die.
Q: Is being Executive Producer of a show about a zombie apocalypse similar to surviving one in any way?
A: I do ask myself that from time to time. The good news is I know who my go-to people are to survive, and those are important skills to have. I’ve learned a lot about surviving without the niceties and the air-conditioning, and the other usual things that we take for granted. I’m pretty good in the woods now, too. And I’m looking forward to firing a crossbow.
Q: Is there anything specific you do to try and keep morale up on the more intense days of shooting?
A: We, along with AMC, provide treats every week. The producers get together and provide something special; sometimes it’s late-night coffee or sorbet, or gourmet mac and cheese — fun things like that. As the saying goes, an army runs on its stomach, so we really do make sure that we have the best food available. If you keep peoples’ stomachs happy, it tends to make all the uncomfortable heat, humidity and bugs more bearable.
Q: As an Executive Producer, do you have a mantra that guides your work?
A: I think one of my mantras is, “Good enough isn’t.” There’s not one person on the show or behind the cameras who doesn’t embrace that. Sometimes people who’ve worked on other shows come here and are actually shocked that we take a show about a zombie apocalypse so seriously. There is not one character on the show that is the same as the actor portraying them. That’s remarkable.
Q: Which character on the show do you think would make the best producer?
A: Rick Grimes would make a fantastic producer. He always puts the needs of everyone before his own, and that’s what a producer has to do. At the same time, I think that Daryl Dixon has a fantastic ability to just get things done without being asked — another skill set important for producer.