"The Walking Dead" won't officially be back until October, but Norman Reedus is warning us now that we should stock up on the Kleenex.
For anyone not caught up, Season 4 of "The Walking Dead" ended on a pretty epic cliffhanger. After the survivors of the prison found themselves reunited and locked in a cattle car by the less-than-savory folks running Terminus, the episode wrapped up with the return of what we can only accurately describe as "Badass Rick Grimes" and the feeling that Gareth and his followers should watch out -- seriously, no one steals Daryl Dixon's poncho and gets away with it! Reedus confirmed there'll be plenty more action this time around.
The man who plays our favorite crossbow-wielding redneck on the hit AMC series gave us a taste of what's to come when Season 5 debuts later this fall. "We come back in a big, big way," Reedus said of the premiere episode. We caught up with the star before he heads off to Comic-Con later this week (the show's panel is on Friday, July 25) to talk season premieres, creepy fan encounters and his love of "Honey Boo Boo."
What can we expect from this season's premiere episode?
This episode is huge, it's so large of an episode and there's so much going on. There were parts of it that were amazing and I was looking at Andy [co-star Andrew Lincoln] and going, "How are they going to put this on television? It’s so gnarly." And then he would lean over and go, "Dude, you say that about every season."
What was your favorite scene to film in Season 5?
There’s a whole episode that’s sort of specific to my character and to another person’s character. There’s some scenes in that that are so large in scale that it just felt so epic ... it’s pretty mind blowing.
Are there any episodes that fans will freak out over?
Yeah, there'll be several. I can’t tell you if or who would die but it is "The Walking Dead," we sort of have a track record of being fearless when it comes to that sort of thing. Grab your tissues.
What do you think of the "If Daryl dies we riot" slogan and fans threatening to light cars on fire if your character is on the chopping block?
I’ll be the first one to light a match. I love it. I’ve put a lot of effort into this character and a lot of thought, as have the writers, directors and producers. It’s the role of a lifetime for me. When I hear things like, if Daryl dies we riot, it just makes me happy. I take it as a compliment and it makes me just work harder at the character. But if that goes down, I’ll be passing out books of matches.
How has your character changed from previous seasons to now?
He’s definitely become harder. He’s always been the Robin to Rick's Batman, and I think he’s very happy being Robin. He’s always got his back and he’ll do anything to keep his people alive and he’s been through so much. He started off as an outsider and had a chip on his shoulder and that chip has turned into a suit of armor in a way; he uses that in battle. I think [without] Joe, I don’t know that he would have ever joined that group. That was a strong reminder of what he might have become if all of this didn’t happen.
Are you excited for Comic-con?
You know, we film this show out here in our own little bubble so it’s just so nice to go out into the world among all the fans. The fans that dress up, they’re so into it and they put so much work into their costumes. It’s cool to be doing this thing with Courtyard [a super hero headquarters, which offers cosplayers free makeup touch-ups star meet-and-greets] because I get to be part of their world. I see some of them dressed as me, I see some of them dressed as people from the show, I see the craziest outfits. The crazier the better.
Do you see a lot of impersonators?
It’s funny because a lot of these things, they won’t just dress as a character, they’ll dress as the people. So there’ll be some Norman Reeduses walking around in like, my own clothes. It’s super creepy. It’s fun, but you may be crossing a line.
Tell me about your on-set battle wounds.
Our makeup artist gets pissed because she has to cover up so many black eyes. If I have to run through a narrow doorway and I’m looking through it as I'm running, a few times I’ve hit the door frame and the crossbow has punched me in the face. Actually, the end of last season when the prison gets sacked, I had a real black eye so that became party of the story line which is why I’m going into this season with a real black eye.
What would you name his crossbow if you got the chance?
Marianne. It’s my mom’s name.
Which cast member would you want on your team if a zombie apocalypse actually happened?
Probably Andrew. Andrew and I just crack up all the time, he’s definitely my BFF on the show. He would totally keep me safe. A budding romance is in the works.
Which show do you geek out over?
"Eastbound and Down," "Game of Thrones," and "Breaking Bad" -- I’m bummed that’s not on -- but "Eastbound and Down" is my go-to show right now. Although I did watch "Honey Boo Boo" last night and they mentioned the zombie apocalypse ... and our show. It was pretty fun.
What does Daryl's ending look like?
Daryl would walk off into the sunset and then a puppy would come up behind him and he would come up over a hill and there’d be a whole bunch of survivors in a Hooters. Yeah, it would be happy hour at Hooters.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated the actor's mother's name as Mary Ann. The correct spelling is Marianne.