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From Meek To Mofo: Melissa McBride On Playing The Walking Dead’s Most Complicated Zombie-Killer

“Some people say she’s so badass this season. It kind of makes me giggle inside because I don’t see her as badass,” the actress tells Co.Create. “I see her as Carol, someone who has let her courage come to the surface.”

All of the characters on The Walking Dead have gone through transformations but perhaps none as remarkable as that of Carol Peletier. “This was completely unexpected, how she’s evolved into such an integral part of the group, making decisions and fending for herself when you compare that to where we started with her,” muses Melissa McBride, the actress who has played Carol since the show began in 2010.

Remember the Carol we met in season one? She lived in fear of an abusive husband and didn’t seem like someone who would have the strength to survive the zombie apocalypse.

But look at her now. This is a woman who at the start of season five—and without a second thought—covered herself in zombie blood and body parts so she could infiltrate Terminus and save Rick, Daryl and the rest of her friends from becoming food for the cannibals.

Carol has become a warrior, and McBride has deftly portrayed the character through every stage of her evolution.

Before she landed the career-defining role, McBride had been acting for nearly 20 years, appearing on television shows ranging from Matlock to Walker, Texas Ranger to Dawson’s Creek in guest-starring gigs. In the 2000s, she also worked as a casting director in Atlanta.

With the second half of season five of The Walking Dead starting on AMC February 8, McBride talks to Co.Create about how she sees Carol, what it’s like to work with co-stars Chad Coleman and Norman Reedus and her creative interests outside of acting.

Co.Create: Carol is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever seen on television. Do you just love going to work and diving into her story?

McBride: I do. I like the unknown. So going to work is kind of like facing the unknown and getting really excited about what’s coming and what’s coming for her.

I understand that when you were first cast you didn’t expect to be on the show for long.

Well, I assumed that it wouldn’t be long because I was working in a different department of the industry at the time. [As noted above, McBride was working as a casting director in Atlanta.] Also, it was a pilot series—instead of doing an hour-long pilot, they were doing a six-episode pilot. It was something that they hoped would get picked up, but they didn’t know.

When I got the call that this was shooting in Atlanta, which is where I am from, I swung by Barnes & Noble to look at this comic book. I hadn’t heard of it before. When I looked at the book my mouth just fell open, and I was like, “Whoa. Whoa. What?”

I fell in love with it. I purchased a couple of them that day. I fell in love with the look of it, the story, the people. That whole graphic novel is a world of its own.

 

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