INTERVIEW: Josh McDermitt, Austin Amelio and Tom Payne talk The Walking Dead s7 finale
The Walking Dead‘s seventh season has certainly been a talking point. From a dreary, pessimistic first half to a second half filled with bold adventure and optimism – we’ve gone on a long journey in just twelve episodes.
We sat down with series stars Josh McDermitt, Austin Amelio and Tom Payne to talk about what filming the new season was like, what they can tease for the futures of their characters and what exactly might be in store for the “satisfying” finale.
Season seven of The Walking Dead has been a bit of a change of pace. What has that been like filming?
Josh: Each season brings its own challenges for sure. We have so many people on this show now. It used to be you were in every day, walking through these desolate roads or walking through the woods and doing stuff like it’s 15 hour days and you’re exhausted and it’s every day you’re in. Now we have two or three episodes off and we get to go back to Los Angeles and hang out with our families and stuff like that. It’s been challenging to take so much time off when you’re used to working so much.
Austin: It was a completely different season. You go to set and you’re like ‘Hey, I’ve never met you. You’re on the show, oh great.’
Josh: I think at the same time, because the first half of this season was a little more dark and a little more depressing, it made it a little bit easier because we didn’t have to live in that headspace for so long.
Tom: I think it was a big deal to come in and be a character who made Rick and Daryl look a bit stupid. In the first episode I come in, that was like ‘Woah, what’s happening? This doesn’t happen on this show!’
But [the show] needs that. It absolutely needs the characters to be beaten down to come back up again. There has been a kind of ‘We want Rick to be like this’ but he can’t be like that the whole time because it’s not realistic. We all go through ups and downs in life.
It’s exciting now to be in the last half of the season for everyone to have got together in the midseason finale and the mid season premiere to try and figure out how we can rise up. I think it’s good and I hope the audience enjoys where it goes.
What were your thoughts on the season finale script when you first read it?
Josh: I thought it was a fitting finale, as they say. I was very happy with it and I think the fans will be happy. The fans lack patience sometimes. I think even us as actors lack patience at times. I think that if people stick with it, they will be happy with that finale and excited for what comes next.
Tom: One of the best parts of the show is that we get to read the scripts before anyone else so we get to be like ‘OH WOW, OH WOW, OH WOW’. There’s some great pay off moments where you’re like ‘Wow, that’s really cool! I can’t wait to see that!’ and ‘That’s amazing!’.
Austin: I think they’ll be satisfied, for sure.
What has been the most satisfying moment for you guys?
Austin: I think the last episode that just came out, for me at least [7.11 Hostiles and Calamities], because most of the time I’ve been popping out behind trees –
Josh: Who’s this creep with the scar on his face?
Austin: – Shooting fan favourites and wearing Daryl’s stuff and torturing him. Poor Norman, man, he’s been such an awesome guy on set. I mean the whole season, he’s just been completely destroyed. It was nice at least for me to have an episode where people can kind of see where I’m coming from, which is like really important for my character and gives an insight into him. So people don’t look at him like ‘Who the f is this dude? Just coming up and shooting people and taking the bike and the vest, what’s his deal?’
How did you feel when you saw the episode?
Austin: It was incredible. It’s a collaboration, and Kari, who directed that episode, was great. It was the first time where we actually got to – at least for me in the television show – where I got to rehearse. Normally, you get the script and you go in and the first take is the first rehearsal. Yeah, it was nice to have that. It was refreshing and I thought it came out really well.
Will we see Dwight and Eugene try to suss each other out in the Sanctuary?
Josh: I don’t know who you can trust in this world… Even Jesus is leading the group around to all these different communities and we feel like we can trust Jesus but there’s this element of is this guy leading us into a trap? You just don’t know.
Dwight and Eugene have a unique history, a very brief unique history, and I think – I love that last scene because I think Eugene misses social cues. There are times where he’s like ‘Oh, great, we’re friends now, we’re on the same team, we’re team Negan’ and Dwight’s sort of like ‘Who is this guy? like I’m trying to figure him out’. It’s completely lost on him that this is the guy whose crotch I bit.
Austin: This new guy – I’ve come up and had to do certain things to get a certain ranking under Negan – and then I walk up the stairs and there’s a guy eating a pickle shouting orders. Shouting orders! What the fuck? I’ve had my face burned, I’ve had to do all these horrid things, and there’s this new guy who’s a huge asset because he’s smart. I think it is going to be a lot of that – that interaction – trying to figure each other out. I don’t know if they’re going to be dancing to ‘Easy Street’ in my room together-
Josh: That might be the finale.
Austin: I think it’s going to be a lot of that. You can’t just right off the bat trust this guy.