“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.
As readers of “The Walking Dead” comic book series know, Carol Peletier met an early demise in the graphic novel. But on AMC’s TV adaptation, the once meek and abused wife is still alive, and has actually transformed into one of the most badass characters on the show. But do you know that Melissa McBride’s Carol was supposed to be killed off in the first half of Season 3?
Well, that’s one of the few surprising things that McBride revealed during her recent interview with Fast Company’s Co.Create.
The 49-year-old actress made the revelation when asked if there was a time in the past when producers of the show sit down with her and talk about their long-term plans for her character.
“Nobody really sat me down and talked about this character very much,” McBride said. “The first time I really got to talk about her from my point of view was when I was told that they were going to kill her. The showrunner at the time was Glen Mazzara, and he called me and let me know that she would be going in the third or fourth episode [of Season 3].”
Since she initially thought that her stint on the show would only be short considering the fate of her character’s comic book counterpart, McBride said that she was fine with the decision.
“I was okay with it, but I was sad,” she recalled. “Then I got to talk to the writers.”
While she has no idea whether her conversation with the writers made them realized that there’s more they could do with Carol, McBride — who also works as casting director in Atlanta — told the Co.Create that being able to talk about her character is an amazing experience.
“It was so wonderful to be able to talk about her, especially at the time when I thought she was going to be going away,” she shared. “I did want them to know what I thought about her. I felt so quiet the whole time. I was happy to talk about her. It made me happy. I was giving a voice to my friend Carol. I wanted her heard before I left. I guess that’s kind of how I felt.”
In an interview with Under The Radar last October, McBride opened up why she sometimes doesn’t want to talk about Carol.
“I love this character. I do feel like she’s very alive for me. I feel protective of her,” she explained. “When I talk about her, I feel like I’m betraying her confidence. So I’m not comfortable talking about her sometimes.”
“She’s my buddy, and I don’t want to tell you what she was thinking or her fears,” she added. “She confides in me. I wouldn’t say it’s exhausting, but there was that time [in Season 4 Episode 14 “The Grove”] that I felt the most spent. As an actor it’s exhilarating in a weird way-a torturous way. I love it.”
“The Walking Dead” fans will see Carol’s funny side in the upcoming second half of the show’s Season 5.
In an interview with TV Guide magazine, showrunner Scott M. Gimple teased that moments of sorrow and misery in the back eight episodes of the current installment will be negated by surprising instances of lightheartedness involving Melissa McBride’s character.
“Some moments are fun and even a little funny,” Gimple said. “I’m not saying that Carol is turning into Zooey Deschanel from ‘New Girl,’ but there are moments of lightness that are still mixed in with some badassery.”
Perhaps this cheery part of Carol’s personality makes McBride love her fan-favorite character even more.
The 49-year-old actress has been very vocal of how much she enjoys playing the role most especially after her storyline on the hit AMC zombie drama veered from the comics.
In fact, there was an instance when the “Mist” actress got teary-eyed while recalling how Carol has transformed from a meek, abused wife to a strong, independent, pragmatic survivor of the zombie apocalypse being portrayed on the show.
“It’s been the time of my life,” she told fans at the series’ New York Comic Con panel in October of her acting stint as Carol, Yahoo TV reported.
She then shared that her line “Look at the flowers” from the show’s Season 4 Episode 14 “The Grove” – where her character shot the emotionally damaged Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) to death – is what people shout at her all the time now.
“It’s something I’m so proud of for the character. It’s been something I never saw coming, and if I keep going, I’ll cry because I love her,” the Lexington, Kentucky-born actress explained as her voice trailed off and got teary.
“It’s amazing to work with all these wonderful people, and to be so vulnerable with each other, but also to be vulnerable with the fans… the way you express yourself, we know how much you love [the show]. Thanks, guys,” McBride added, as her co-stars Chad Coleman (Tyreese), Danai Gurira (Michonne) and Norman Reedus (Daryl), embraced and comforted her.
The return of The Walking Dead is lumbering nearer and nearer and to mark the occasion, AMC has a new trailer featuring your favorite zombie apocalypse survivors and the undead they’ve been battling against for five seasons.
When we last saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) & Co., they’d finally found Beth (Emily Kinney) and Carol (Melissa McBride), only to lose Beth in the rescue. Meanwhile, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and his group started off toward Washington at the behest of Eugene (Josh McDermitt) only to finally learn Eugene lied about the cure.
There’s no safe haven and no destination in sight. So, where do they go now? That’s the big question.
“We do what we need to do, and then we get to live,” Rick says in the trailer above. “I know we’ll be OK because this is how we survive.”
The cast and crew have been teasing major changes are ahead for the series’ characters. “It feels like we’re moving into a new show, it just feels like a new place visually and also story wise” Lincoln says in a video released in December.
When the show returns there will be a new face joining the cast. Ross Marquand has been cast in a mysterious new role that is rumored to be Aaron, a gay character from the comic book series the show is based on.
The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
I’m sorry I haven’t been updating the main page as often as the gallery, but if you haven’t checked out the gallery, it’s now completely up to date with season 5 of The Walking Dead. Who else can’t wait for 5b??