Melissa Suzanne McBride is one of the stars in AMC hit sensation “The Walking Dead” in the role of Carol Peletier. While Melissa is gearing up for season two, Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with her about working on the show and what’s to come in season two.
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Mike Gencarelli: What has been the best part for you playing Carol Peletier on “The Walking Dead”?
Melissa Suzanne McBride: Immediately what comes to mind as having been the best part is that each day has always felt extraordinary. The wonderful people I get to work with, that all-around buzz that comes as the day’s momentum gains and sustains, everyone’s doing their thing to help create something very special… experiencing that, being a part of that energy, has been the best part. To speak specifically about playing this character, the best part is that Carol truly intrigues me. Considering the harshness and isolation she has endured already – in some sense an inner, personal apocalypse of her own – and how those years of abuse affected her state of mind, her spirit, her own reflection, how she feels perceived, her sense of worth, her sense of the world’s worth and, most importantly, her concern for Sophia and the blame she owns for Sophia’s unhappy childhood…. There’s so much about her to explore, discover and tap into as this group moves along. This new world of theirs is hardly an ideal healing ground.
MG: How has it been working with such a great cast?
MSM: I really can’t say enough about the strength of trust throughout this entire project, and among the cast it’s pretty amazing. A great cast, indeed. Everyone’s totally committed to bringing every ounce of a true life (or death) to their character regardless of where the cameras are focused for each take – just very giving and supportive of one another, all of them. They are seriously some of the kindest people to work and hang out with every day. It was also striking to me that everyone in the cast has a uniquely brilliant sense of humor! For lots of people, myself included, humor seems to have a will of its own during the darkest times which, pitted against the circumstances, might feel horribly inappropriate. But, its about coping and staying afloat, really. That might have had something to do with what we we experiencing – coping, compensating somehow for the utter misery our characters were facing – I don’t know, but humor was definitely in overdrive at times, and thankfully. I’ve never laughed so hard. Everyone I’ve worked with in this cast has been such a valuable inspiration to me in their own wonderful way and I consider myself very lucky to know them at all, blessed to consider them family, which is really how it feels. Those that left the show in season one still keep in touch… it’s just a fantastic bond, The Walking Dead.
MG: How was it working with Frank Darabont for the second time now, first being “The Mist”?
MSM: A once in a lifetime opportunity… twice in one life! Working with Frank is exhilarating, magical, wonderful. He’s become a bit like the Wizard of Oz to me in that he’s granted me some of the most extraordinary acting opportunities to ever come my way – each having a very significant impact both professionally and personally – and yet I’ve rarely seen or spoken to him. I missed getting to work directly with him this season as he’d directed only the first episode and was immersed in writing and other aspects of the show by the time my work began. On “The Mist” I had one scene to shoot, and for much of that scene Frank was this happy, excited, disembodied voice calling out from “video village” (video village is where he had his monitor set-up, out of sight in a corner of the supermarket). He wasn’t out of sight the entire time, however: witnessing Frank-in-action while on the set of “The Mist” was pretty amazing. Someone said of Frank that “he’s like a kid in a candy store”, and this was my thought exactly. He was having a blast! His passion and excitement isn’t just the kind you see every day from someone who loves what they do… no, his is the kind that could launch a rocket! He’s rare, and very much a visionary. It was an honor to work with Frank the first time, and an overwhelming honor that he would have remembered me for this role three years later. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll have an opportunity to direct in the coming season. If not, though, maybe I can sit with him at lunch one day and just listen to his head crackle… I don’t know, I just have this feeling that his brain is on fire at all times.
MG: Are you looking forward to season two of the show?
MSM: Yes, I’m so anxious to start back! I’m as enthralled as any viewer to see how the lives of these characters will play out in this zombie apocalypse! The recognition The Walking Dead has achieved in this first short season has been phenomenal – viewership through the roof and fans squirming for more, a Golden Globe nomination, Writer’s Guild nomination, Director’s Guild nomination for Frank Darabont, more nominations just announced for special effects – I’m ecstatic to see what this masterful team of people are going to create having the full thirteen episodes in the coming season. The door is wide-open now and the playground just got much bigger!
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