[Movies] Glen Mazzara Talks Walking Dead Creative Team, Season Three, More
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 02.28.2013
Soon-to-be-former showrunner discusses what's left in this season and more...
Glen Mazzara recently spoke with Rohan Williams of Scene Magazine in Australia about the last few episodes of The Walking Dead, what's left to come this season, the creative team for next season after he is gone and more. Check out the highlights:
On whether he was happy with how the episode "I Ain't a Judas" turned out: "Yes, I was! You know, we spent a lot of time building to that episode, where Andrea finally connects with the rest of the group, and I think the audience had a lot of expectations about how that was going to go. But given what each character's dealing with, I thought the episode made a lot of sense. It was a good character piece. I was happy with the way it came together."
On whether he pays attention to reviews and forums about the show: "I do! I do! I'm very interested in how the material went over with the audience. I think it's hysterical that people debate these things the way they do; it's a lot of fun to read that. A lot of people have very strong reactions, both positively and negatively, to every episode. It doesn't affect how we write the show. The show is completely shot and edited and in the can by now. We're further down the road, and the creative team for Season 4 has already put together those scripts. So it doesn't affect how we tell the story, but it's always fun to see how things are received."
On why Axel had to die in "Home": "Excellent question. First of all, let's think about the timeline. Glenn and Maggie are kidnapped, and later that day, Michonne arrives and says, 'you need to rescue your friends'. So Rick and those guys arrive at night, and over the course of that night, they shoot up Woodbury, and they free Daryl in the wee hours of the morning. So you have about three episodes playing over two days. So The Governor's attack is like a day and a half after that, right? So he attacks pretty quickly. People watching it are saying, 'oh, it feels like it's a week later'. No. It's been about 15 hours when he goes to attack. When The Governor shows up, he's not there to invade the prison or launch a major attack, he just wants to send a message to these people. And as he's doing that, he will look ineffectual if it does not result in a death. You know, we want to have a big gun battle, but he's not invading, so he's just going to snipe at somebody, and that's going to result in a death. Otherwise he looks completely impotent."
On who else was considered for death in that episode: "To be very honest, I didn't want to kill off any of the major characters. We obviously didn't want to kill Rick. Carol was on the chopping block, but I didn't want to kill Carol, because we have a story coming up with her. We looked at the possibility of killing Beth. I don't think that actor knows that. You know, I love Emily Kinney. But I felt that would have had too big an impact on the group. It would have just devastated poor Herschel. It would have taken him down a path I didn't want for the rest of the season. And we were already dealing with Maggie's feelings about her sexual assault by The Governor, so we didn't want to complicate that with mourning for her sister. We talked about killing Carl in that episode! We really did... unfortunately, you know, by the process of elimination, we got to Axel. Now I like Lew Temple's performance of Axel very, very much, and we were just starting to find that character and develop him in a way that we loved. And we probably could have had more stories with him. But The Governor was the main character in that piece. We needed to make sure he was not ineffectual. Because otherwise he's not a bad guy that could possibly take out our guys. So that was really important."
On having to weigh the value of potential stories involving characters against the value of their deaths to the narrative: "You do! You do. And there are other things coming where the story breaks a certain way to service The Governor or Rick. Those are the main characters. You have to service those main characters. But I have to think about those choices. If the show ever falls into a rhythm in which characters are being saved just because we like those characters, then it's going to feel artificial. It's not going to feel riveting and thrilling and unpredictable every week. You have to make these tough choices."
On the Governer being more of a gentleman than in the comic: "That was a decision on my part. I really did not want The Governor to be an arch-villain. I wanted to see a person develop into this character. My motto for The Governor was that he's a man who's narcissistic enough that he believes this apocalypse is about him. That this is thrusting him onto the world stage, and that a thousand years from now, when humanity survives and kids are studying history books, his name will stand out like Augustus Ceasar or Charlemagne or some other great historical figure who kept the lights on during a dark age. I thought that was very interesting. I had not seen that character before, someone with a sense of history about him. So I spoke with David about that, and David was interested in playing that character. He did not want to play an arch-villain. And if you look at what [Walking Dead creator Robert] Kirkman's done, Kirkman actually introduced that character as an arch-villain in the comic book, and then went back in novels, after the character had been killed off in the comic book, and filled in his back story to show how the character developed. So even Kirkman sensed that arc is an interesting one, he just went back to it after the comic book material was realised. So that's an interesting character. I think all of us wonder how The Governor can commit such atrocities, and I had a very strong perspective about that going in."
On how closely he's adhered to the comics: "I think the show has been a completely different beast. Now, what happens to it in Season 4, since I've left the show, is up to the creative team that's in place. But I believe you have to take liberties with the material, because part of the nature of that comic book is that it is so unpredictable. You want to play with audience expectations, and sometimes give it to them in a surprising way. Sometimes you don't want to give it to them, you want to withhold it, which leads to some frustration for a lot of the comic book readers. But, you know, there's about 100,000 people who read that comic book, and there's 11,000,000 people watching the show. So I think a lot of the decisions we've made have found a wider audience."
On working with Robert Kirkman: "Well, Robert's an executive producer on the show. He's in the writers' room. So all the material we've developed has been with his blessing. He's been a full creative participant, so he's fully involved in the development of this material. As far as the comic book goes, no, he keeps that separate. We don't discuss it. One time he slipped with a spoiler about a major death in issue 100, and all the writers were sort of upset. 'Don't tell us! We want it to be a surprise!' They didn't want to know that. So the comic book is very, very different from the show, and he writes it on his own. We have no participation in that."
On whether the higher profile of showrunners over the past few years is a good thing: "I think so! You know, the showrunner provides the vision for the show. I think the showrunner deserves it! They're driving the creative vision of the show. So even though it is a collaborative medium, the showrunner is the equivalent of the director of a feature film. That's the person who shepherds the work through the entire process. Showrunners dedicate themselves to the shows. We're involved in all aspects of the show, both creative and production-wise. We're responsible for budgets, schedules, wardrobe, casting... there's no aspect of the show that I'm not involved in, that I don't approach from a position of authority. You're approving hair styles, you're approving wardrobe, you're approving props, you're approving this and that. The directors are the ones who are rotating through the system. So I think that's fair. I think if you look at a show like Community, that was certainly a show that was Dan Harmon's voice. It's a demonstrably different show without him. That's what we get paid for as showrunners, to add our voices to the show. Darabont had one particular voice, I have another. And the fans see that! The fans recognise that. That is recognition of the dedication of a lot of men and women who pour their hearts and souls into these works."
On whether his storylines will wrap up in time for his exit at the end of the season: "Well, the next guy, Scott Gimple, has been involved for a while. And Robert Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd and Greg Nicotero, the creative team, were all producers on Season 3. So there's no material there that is surprising to them. They were involved in developing that material. That being said, listen... the season finale will be a bombshell, as you say. We wouldn't be The Walking Dead if we didn't push the storytelling every week. So those folks have their work cut out for them, you know? Hopefully the ratings will hold for this season and at the end of my run they'll be in a position to have a successful Season 4. We'll see what happens."