SPOILERS for Episode 508 ahead!
Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixion) talked to Entertainment Weekly about working with Emily Kinney, what to expect coming up, and his reaction to creator Robert Kirkman’s clarification on last night’s Talking Dead as to Daryl’s sexual orientation. Hmmmm!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know how super emotional it is for you guys when you have to say goodbye to a cast member. What was it like having to film these last scenes with Emily Kinney, who played Beth?
NORMAN REEDUS: It was rough. I won’t lie, it was rough. She’s such an amazing girl and such a great actress and what her character meant to our characters was a big deal, so to lose that was a very emotional day for everyone. It felt like you actually lost a friend.
And I know you do take things very hard and you had some trouble before filming this scene, didn’t you?
I think all the characters are sort of hanging on a thread, not in terms of being killed off the show but their emotional state. All of us are walking that fine line between completely savage and broken and I really wanted to play out that scene as devastated. And it means as much to Daryl as it meant to all of us. I really wanted to be completely devastated by that and taken off guard by that. Daryl’s one of those guys — he’s tough but he doesn’t puff out his chest and have to be tough. He’s just tough. And you can’t really have one without the other. You can’t just be one-note tough. You have to show reasons as to why he fights and you have to show the world that we’re living in. So he had to be devastated by that.
We’ve talked before how Daryl is such a tough guy, but he has some very tender and childlike qualities as well, especially when confronted with tragedy. We saw it when Merle was a zombie and we saw it again here when he watches Beth get shot. All that tough stuff just evaporates.
Yeah, he’s never been a showboat, and I think as an adult he’s taken a lot of the trauma that he had growing up and he’s taken it with him and you don’t fully became one or the other. I think in a tragic situation it’s fight or flight, and he’s always been a fighter, but at the end of the fight, I don’t think he ever feels proud of himself, you know what I mean?
He does not hesitate. He puts a bullet right through Dawn’s skull. Is that just a natural gut reaction?
I think so. That’s just animal instinct kicking in, and he’s kind of a wild animal in a lot of ways. He wouldn’t flinch at that. He would just do that.
So did Emily Kinney’s lifeless body get a little heavy after multiple takes of carrying her out of the hospital?
[Laughs] You know, she’s not a heavy girl. I wouldn’t say that. But it’s this defeated posture. I couldn’t walk her out like a fireman saving a baby. It couldn’t be like that. Everything had to hang. It wasn’t the most comfortable position to carry someone. You kind of have to be sobbing and hang as you carry her. It can’t be a heroic thing, it has to be a devastating thing. I think I grabbed her boob once by accident. After like, six takes and you’re walking really slow and sobbing, I thought maybe I would drop her at least once, but I didn’t.
What does the loss of Beth do to Daryl and to the group moving forward?
She was such a beacon of hope, that girl. She sang and she had a positive outlook and she was hopeful. All these little slivers of hope are being taken from this group one by one. It just gets worse and worse and worse. Humanity and the goodness in people is slowly being evaporated from their world. I think she was a big beacon of hope for us, and to watch her go is just devastating.
And make sure, if you DVR’d the episode or cut out before the credits finished airing, that you watch the crazy post-credits scene from the episode!!