When Frank Darabont was first announced as the producer and pilot director of “The Walking Dead,” I’ll be the first to admit that I was shocked — not because he didn’t seem right for the gig, but because the award-winning director of “The Mist” and “The Shawshank Redemption” was such an absolutely perfect choice to handle Robert Kirkman’s post-apocalyptic zombie epic.
Great from-the-start pairings of filmmaker and source material rarely happen these days, but when they do, well… Let’s just say “The Walking Dead” star Andrew Lincoln, who plays main character Rick Grimes, had no small amount of praise for the man behind the camera when the series make its debut on AMC this weekend.
“[Darabont] is obviously one of the great filmmakers of all time,” Lincoln told MTV News. “He’s made two of the greatest films, in my opinion, in movie history. I went with high expectations and every day I went to work they were exceeded.”
“He’s kind of like a talisman on set,” continued the actor. “He has this incredible enthusiasm. He’s like a boy in a sweet shop. This felt like it was his dream come true, to be so creatively involved in this. He’s a incredible writer, and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema — patricularly this genre. He would come up an go, ’This is the Cary Grant shot… This is the John Wayne shot…'”
But it wasn’t just Darabont’s eye for the camera that impressed Lincoln, it was also his handling of the cast that made the experience so memorable.
“He also really respects actors. He lets them discover things,” explained Lincoln. “There was a beautiful moment in the pilot that wasn’t scripted. We kind of found something.”
Lincoln went on to describe the scene that truly sold him on Darabont as not only a brilliant visual director, but a filmmaker willing to test his cast to get the best performances out of them.
“He said, ’Give me all the range, give me all the colors,’ [and] there’s a moment when Rick gets home and his family is not there,” remembered Lincoln. “And I thought, ’We need to see him break down.’ I want him to be as human, as raw, as real as we can make him. I said, ’The audience needs to fall apart with him before he gathers himself and gets that uniform on and starts searching again.'”
“And [Darabont] said, ’Give me all the ranges, just go!'” he continued. “Afterwards, he came up to me and gave me a hug and just went, ’I’m going to jump-cut all of that. He edits as he goes — he’s kind of a classic auteur. It’s so spectacular to work with someone who is so accomplished in every aspect of the art form.”
“The Walking Dead” premieres Halloween night, October 31, at 10 PM EST on AMC. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden, Chandler Riggs, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Steven Yeun, among other notable actors. Keep it locked to Page all week for more “The Walking Dead” news, interviews, clips, and giveaways!