All anyone has to do is see a photograph of a man with a bow and you can bet with 99.9% certainty that it’s THE WALKING DEAD’s own Daryl Dixon. Playing this iconic character is the equally recognizable name of Norman Reedus.
What you may not know is Reedus has been in films that are going to make you run out and rent! Starting in 1997 as Jeremy in the film MIMIC, 1999 as Warren in 8MM and in the same year as Murphy MacManus in THE BOONDOCK SAINTS. He also knows a bit about the undead playing Scud in the 2002 film BLADE II. In 2007 he portrayed Det. Norman Reilly in AMERICAN GANGSTER and returned in 2009 for THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: All Saints Day.
For more trivia on Reedus it might also surprise fans to know that he has modeled for Prada, Dell’Acqua, Durban, Levi’s and Lexus. He has appeared in music videos for the Goo Goo Dolls, Ugly Kid Joe, R.E.M., Radiohead and Keith Richards and more recently in the video “Judas” by Lady Gaga.
This man of all trades is also a painter, sculptor and photographer where his artwork is in galleries now in New York, Berlin and Frankfurt recently releasing a book of photography.
But it would be in 2010 when AMC began airing a certain little series called THE WALKING DEAD that Reedus would become the iconic character of Daryl Dixon. Google that name alone and hundreds of tough-guy photos with saying such as, “If Daryl Dies We All Riot!” or “What Would Daryl Dixon Do?” Recently, Reedus has joined the ranks of being Funko’d by the Funko Pop dolls.
Here is an interview with Reedus talking about his character and what he thinks of his new iconic status as a hero to all!
Daryl has really emerged as a fan favorite character. When you signed up for the role, did you ever think that he would be so lovable?
I’m trying to make him lovable here and there, but not too lovable.
He’s also one of a dwindling group of characters who have been on the show since the beginning. What’s the secret to his longevity?
Oh man, I don’t know what the secret is. Everyone that has met their end has been such a rich character, and those actors have brought those characters to life in such great ways. I don’t think anybody is going to die in a hospital bed smiling with all their loved ones around holding hands.
Fans have their own methods for trying to predict what is going to happen on the show. What do the actors do?
We get the scripts right before we shoot them. I sometimes hear rumors of certain directions we’ll take, and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. But nobody knows their character’s arc. Even when we do roundtables when the show kicks off, we have all these interviewers and they say, “Oh, we’ve watched the first two episodes, and this is what I think is happening.” They’re usually wrong, and they just watched it! So Scott and the writers are very good at keeping those secrets to themselves. The whole arc of the show in general is locked somewhere in a vault in Scott Gimple’s brain.
Conan O’Brien recently said he thought you have one of the best “mean, tired, angry, I’m-going-to-kill-you scowls,” on the show. That’s saying a lot, given other characters like Michonne. Are there any famous scowlers you look up to?
Early on, I was so insecure as an actor that I just gave everyone dirty looks. I thought they all hated me. And somehow I’ve played parts since then where I murder people. It’s kind of like that scowl turned into a career. All of my favorite actors brood. Clint Eastwood definitely had a scowl happening. Charlie Bronson. Marlon Brando had one when he wanted one. Willem Dafoe can definitely turn your brain to ice by staring at you. As for Daryl, I’ve always played him as a fighter, but that’s because he’s always had to fight. That’s a different kind of a fight than a guy with big pecs coming at you to prove a point. I guess that goes hand-in-hand with the scowl.
Are you missing Michael Rooker this year as much as Daryl misses his brother?
Rooker is fun — he’s kind of a tornado of a guy. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. So yeah, I totally miss him. I miss all the characters that we’ve lost.
There are a lot of new characters this season, though. What’s it like to welcome new cast to the set?
It’s interesting because when they come on, I kind of look at them the way Daryl would look at them. I don’t really talk to them, I kind of give them dirty looks, and then after a couple of episodes when they’re all beat up and they have scrapes all over their bodies and they’re kind of walking as if they’re 95 years old, then I open up and I’m like, “Hey, nice to have you on board.”
After four seasons on the show, how much has Daryl become a part of you?
You really don’t let go of [the character] for a while. I remember I did a voiceover for an animated feature where I played The Punisher. I went in real rednecky, and they were like, “Whoa, you’re not Daryl. Don’t be Daryl.” And we all talk. I talk to Andy and I talk to the other cast members during the off-season and we try to see each other when we can, and so you kind of really never let it go.