Paging through the old The Walking Dead comics, one thing was interesting: all the characters in the TV series have an uncanny resemblance to their illustrated counterparts.
We need to understand that when Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore came up with the first few issues of the comic, the idea of a show was non-existent. Yet when it became a reality, it was almost as if the drawings came to life.
Daryl Dixon is one such success story of converting a comic book character to a small screen version. Played by Norman Reedus, Daryl is a mischievous crossbow-wielding redneck who joins the group of survivors we follow in The Walking Dead’s storyline.
At first Daryl is an outcast, but as the seasons pass, he develops into a likable,yet abrasive man. In season three he lost his psychotic brother and with season four upon us, we caught up with Reedus to find out what more to expect from Daryl.
“I have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this guy and am glad people joke about what we are doing,” said Reedus. “Daryl is really popular; he’s chosen to not give up; he’s chosen to be somebody in particular and I think that idea resonates with everyone.”
Reedus said that the new season comprises several captivating story arcs he thinks fans will enjoy.
“There’s a bunch of different elements this year. As far as the gore factor, there is a new threat. It’s an internal threat and that, along with something else, has caused us to run away from where we were as people and as a group, and there are certain leadership responsibilities that are delegated in different ways this year.
“It’s not the same prison it was when we left it in season three,” he said, trying to be as vague, yet informative as possible.
“You come back in and things almost feel calm for a second, there’s a sense of environment, a sense of family and unity that wasn’t there before, which quickly gets destroyed. Chaos ensues and it becomes a different world for all of us,” he said, only raising further curiosity.
But given all the information about the show that is available, Reedus couldn’t hide everything about season four. We know how the survivors have settled in another location and resorted to farming to keep up their supplies. Surprisingly, Daryl drops his crossbow for a hoe to help with the agricultural chores.
“I think Daryl can do anything. You have a lot of time on your hands if you think about it,” the actor said.
Daryl is probably the most effective fighter in the zombie series because of his use of the crossbow. Most people on his team use guns, but that only attracts the “walkers”, as the zombies are known.
“Somebody asked me: ‘How in the world does Daryl not run out of arrows?’ Well, we go around and find what we have shot and take them back out. I have always tried to play that character like he’s had his back up against the wall his entire life.
“There are reasons why people fight; some people fight to protect people, some people fight to prove a point, but I try to play him like he fights, because he’s always had to fight. I think it has to do with his upbringing, he lashes out first and reasons second,” said Reedus.
For someone whom we loved to hate in the first season, it is intriguing that Daryl has fast become one of the most popular characters on the show. Reedus has his reasons why this is so.
“I think he is complicated. He can hunt, he can take care of himself, he can track his own food, he is kind of equipped already for the situation, but the interesting thing about him, he is not really mature in the ways of human interaction,” explained Reedus.
Speaking of human interaction, for the longest time, Daryl has found himself in a situation where he could hook up with Carol (Melissa McBride), but he’s always held back.
“Everyone is always asking me: ‘When are you and Carol going to hook up?’ I think I’d rather play him like he doesn’t have any expertise in that arena. Like, all the awkward things that happen when a boy meets a girl – he doesn’t know how to talk and what to do, all those things are so much more interesting than just grabbing a girl and throwing her against a tree in the moonlight,” explained Reedus.
With many principal characters being killed over the seasons, Daryl is one of the few who was there from the start and perhaps this is because of his affiliation to the lead actor Andrew Lincoln’s character, Rick Grimes. It would be a shame if he were to be written out anytime soon.
“He is becoming a different person, but he is awkward. He means what he says, wears his heart on his sleeve and is loyal. I’ve always said, he is like a wild dog, but if you approached him in an alley, he’d just snarl at you like he was going to rip your face off,” said Reedus.
• The Walking Dead, Mondays, 10pm, Fox (DStv channel 125).
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