The Walking Dead: Melissa McBride on Carol’s evolution

A brief interview with The Walking Dead's Melissa McBride about the many turning points of her character, Carol Peletier...

We are quite the fans of Melissa McBride’s portrayal of Carol, here at Den of Geek, and we’re clearly not alone. Since her evolution from battered housewife to one-woman army, she’s become one of the best and most popular characters on The Walking Dead.

Now more than ever though, Carol’s future looks dangerously uncertain – if she’s intent on not killing (as much as the Saviors will allow) then surely her place in The Walking Dead universe could have reached its natural conclusion… here’s hoping that’s not the case though and she has at least one more Rambo-esque chance to save the day in spectacular style.

As it happens Melissa McBride is quite uncomfortable doing press, for whatever reason, but her concerns were alleviated at our round table when love for her character exuded from everyone. The interview itself was more of an informal chat, encompassing fandom and how she feels about now being hailed as an action star, “It’s been a lot of fun. As an actor it’s fun to be able to carry out these choreographed big explosions and it’s fun for me, because Carol is just so unlikely… it’s like me! It’s Carol, it’s not Rambo, it’s Carol. To me she’s just like this lady in the neighbourhood, this housewife” she told us.

She was asked if being kicked out of the group by Rick was still important to Carol, “I think she’s past that because of her experience, because that happened and knowing that she could take care of herself if she needed to. I think she’d be okay if that happened again.” which of course has now been adequately proved, thanks to the power of those rosary beads.

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She was also questioned about what it’s like to not know the future of her character in advance, “Well it’s easy for me to say well it’s a little like life, you never know. But there’s logistics. It’s exciting in a way, not knowing. Scott Gimple doesn’t give me much at all, but I don’t want too much. But then other times I’m like man, I wish you’d told me that, I could have put another layer of something in there if I’d known.”

We had a chance to ask more directly about Carol’s change in character, as well as the experience of filming the rather gut-wrenching and emotionally draining season four episode The Grove. Here’s what she had to say…

It seemed to me that the turning point for Carol was the death of her daughter – that was when she really shut down from the world…

There’s so many turning points. There was the loss of Ed and… can you imagine pickaxing his head in? Do you know what I mean? I mean literally having it in your hand and making contact with another human head like that – and that’s her husband. That’s a huge thing, whether she thought about it at that moment, or not, it certainly had some psychological effect.

And then every other life she takes… I mean certainly seeing her daughter dead and then having to put down Lizzie and seeing the horrible, innocent brutality that Lizzie put on her sister Mika, just because she doesn’t know better. I mean just everything is a turning point.

You mentioned Mica and The Grove I remember, had an incredible impact on a lot of people. Was that an especially difficult episode to film, because it was to watch?

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It was very uncomfortable to read it. I loved the episode, it was a beautiful episode for what it was, and it fit so well within that world and what do you do in that situation? You certainly hope there’s another way, but there wasn’t. It was a beautiful episode but it was very uncomfortable to film it and I think a part of me kind of checks out a little bit anyway, but if there’s more than one of me they were all like ‘We’re going to be over here! We’ll just be watching from over here!’

So did it take all of your experience, or training to disconnect during that episode?

You know I don’t know what this thing is called acting, but you’re present and you’re not – I like the dichotomy of being there, but being unseen, I just feel like… in that sense that more of me checked out, it felt really way cool as an actor doing that stuff in that particular episode, because then you come back it’s felt a little out of body  and you tune back into the atmosphere once the hard stuff is really dealt with.

But you’re so present and the children were awesome to work with and  Michael E. Satrazemis who directed that episode gave us a lot of freedom and quiet, it was just an intimate set so we could stay close, which was nice.

Melissa McBride thank you very much!