Daryl Never Misses
I read it and I didn’t even read zombies. I read this guy who was just trying to find his family. That first episode of our show is my favorite. It was so different and it was something I would watch.
It seemed like such a heartfelt story, right from the beginning. And then it was like — “It’s a zombie show,” and I was like, “Yeah, zombies were there.” But I didn’t really read that into it.
When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy. He basically would’ve turned into his brother. But he’s found a sense of self-worth through these people that he would’ve never hung out with before.
Now that group relies on him. I mean he started out [turns sideways] like, “Don’t look at me, don’t look at me.” He had a chip on his shoulder, like he wasn’t comfortable being him. There were always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist, like his brother was.
I fought to change those because I felt he should be more of an Al-Anon member and not a full-blown Alcoholics Anonymous member. He should have grown up with it, felt ashamed of it and wasn’t comfortable with who he was. That allows him to grow into somebody you respect. Now he talks to you like this [facing front], like he means everything he says. He’s super direct, super honest and you can count on him.
Now he’s a leader and he calls the shots with Rick. Rick’s the brother that Merle never was. It’s a strange sort of circumstance how it’s made Daryl a better person.
Why do you think people like Daryl so much?
I think of Daryl all the time. Everybody calls me Daryl — no one even knows my name anymore. There’s a lot of me in him and a lot of him in me.
What’s good about playing a show for eight years is that … you drop these little seeds behind you and they turn into trees and forests. You can create a larger story, so time really works to your advantage.
I’m not going to ask if Daryl dies, but if you could write a death scene, would his death be spectacular or quiet?
I remember the first thing I was on. My [character’s] dad was passing away. My dad’s in a wheelchair and he stands up and gives me a hug. It’s a big deal. I called my dad and just had a regular conversation and then did the scene. I cried so much that snot was everywhere and it was disgusting.
It’s not that I just pick roles depending on where my life is, but it definitely helps if you can relate to something real to where you’re at, you know?
It’s mind-blowing. He’s a genius. He came out to San Diego for Comic-Con, and he had some stuff on an iPad that he wanted to show me. I sat in a little restaurant at a booth watching this iPad and the things he’d created, and I was just blown away. I was like, “Whatever you want to do, let’s do it. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
It’s unreal. People will do whatever he wants because he’s a visionary.