Maybe more anticipated than any other TV panel at this year's Comic-Con, today's session with the cast and crew of AMC's zombie thriller "The Walking Dead" did not disappoint. We got a brand-new Season 3 trailer, an official premiere date (October 14 at 9 PM; mark your calendars), and a ton of fresh information about the new season, including the introduction of two long-awaited new characters: katana-wielding zombie killer Michonne and infamous super-villain the Governor. So without further ado, let's get to the scoop!
After getting a tiny taste of Season 3 on last weekend's "Talking Dead" preview special, we were treated to a full four-minute trailer today, featuring Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors taking over an abandoned prison and fortifying themselves against the never-ending zombie onslaught. Meanwhile, Andrea (Laurie Holden) and her new savior Michonne (Danai Gurira) find themselves in a strangely tranquil and zombie-free town called Woodbury, run by the sinister Governor (David Morrissey). Plus, we get a quick cameo from Daryl's gone-but-not-forgotten brother Merle (Michael Rooker).
Check out the Season 3 trailer right here:
Here are some of the other nuggets we gleaned from today's panel, moderated by "Talking Dead" host Chris Hardwick:
- The producers were unanimous in raving about the elaborate new prison set, where most of Season 3 takes place. Creator Robert Kirkman boasted that "it doesn't look like a back lot," with executive producer Dave Alpert adding, "Seeing this come to the screen has been one of the greatest honors of my entire life." And just based on the brief footage we've seen, we have to agree: The difference between the prison and Season 2's drab farm is like night and day. (Yay, no more farm!)
- Gurira is thrilled to embody comic-book favorite Michonne, calling the experience "amazing... I've been able to learn how to use a katana sword!" (Sure, that makes any new job easier.) The "Treme" veteran can't help but feel "warm and fuzzy" about her new gig, "regardless of the fact that I'm in an apocalyptic world." Just try not to let the camera catch you smiling, Danai; Michonne doesn't smile.
- Stepping into the role of the Governor, U.K. native Morrissey ("Doctor Who") was also enthusiastic about joining the cast: "I came into the show as a fan... that's a great family down there." But the transition to U.S. TV does have its drawbacks. When asked about the differences between British and American productions, Morrissey said simply, "The heat." ("The Walking Dead" films down in sticky-hot Georgia.)
- Speaking of Brits, it may surprise you to learn that both Lincoln and Lauren Cohan (Maggie) are from the U.K as well. Who do they have to thank for their on-screen accents? The magic of Skype. The two have weekly online lessons with dialect coach Jessica Drake every Sunday; "it's kind of like church," Cohan said. Lincoln added that he speaks in Rick's Southern dialect the whole time he's on set... maybe too much. "[Executive producer] Gale [Anne Hurd] said to me, 'Andy, dial it in; we don't want to have to subtitle you.'" (But if they do, there's a role on "Swamp People" waiting for you.)
- The polarizing Lori is one of TV's most hated characters, and playing her does take its toll on co-star Sarah Wayne Callies. She said it was great to see the Comic-Con fans, "even though I know there are some of you who are mad at me." (Well, yeah! You slept with Shane!) Callies revealed she's even been accosted by irate fans at the grocery store, but she's used to it: "Hi, I'm Sarah, I play a homewrecker on TV."
- In contrast, fan favorite Norman Reedus (Daryl) soaked up the adulation, adding that his role as the crossbow-toting bad-ass has even helped him with the ladies: "Everybody loves a redneck." But he admits he's not quite the rugged outdoorsman that Daryl is; he tried taking his son fishing and didn't get a bite. Well, did you try using a crossbow?
(Reporting by Adam Pockross)