The Walking Dead Season 7: Melissa McBride Talks Carol’s Journey, the Kingdom, & Much More

Melissa McBride talked to us about Carol's journey in The Walking Dead season 7, the Kingdom, Negan, and much more!

This Walking Dead article contains spoilers for the show and the comics.

The Walking Dead season 7 is about to wreak havoc on all of its characters in a premiere that could be the show’s bloodiest ever. Negan will bring down the barbed-wired bat of vengeance down on an ill-fated Alexandrian in retribution for Rick’s preemptive attack on the Saviors last season. That death will undoubtedly spark a whole new series of conflicts between both factions.

But while Rick is busy dealing with Negan and his bikers, a conflicted Carol, played by the wonderful Melissa McBride, is on her own journey for redemption. Dealing with feelings of guilt over the lives she’s taken over the course of six seasons – McBride is one of the few characters left from the show’s first season – Carol was left in an uncertain place at the end of the season. She’s left Alexandria for good, given up on her life, and been seriously injured during a fight on the road. 

As the season 7 trailer revealed, Carol is still alive and will recover from her wounds. In fact, she’ll be venturing into brand new territory when she arrives to a new settlement called the Kingdom. It yet remains to be seen how Carol will fare with her new surroundings and if she’ll be able to find peace away from Rick and the rest of people she called family.

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I had the please of talking to McBride about what we can expect from Carol this season. You can read the interview below!

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Den of Geek: What do you think it is about Carol that makes her such a good character to constantly put through the wringer?

Melissa McBride: Gosh, you know what? I just imagine that Carol is sort of very resilient from the get-go. You know when I think about where she came from… You know, who knows? Even earlier in her life, that the writers may or may not ever reveal to us and to me. But I just think that she’s just very resilient and had to be, in lots of ways, self-reliant.

You probably know by now that your version of Carol is very different from the one in the comics. Your Carol is way more resilient and tough. Did you foresee Carol’s evolution on the show?

Yeah, and I’m so glad and grateful that they went a different route because I like this trajectory for her, as opposed to just giving in like she did in the comic book. But you know, where we are now, she’s giving in in a different way and in an important was, and this is a very reflective time for her. We’ve ended up in her head space, and I’m curious as to where that’s going to lead.

And where is that evolution taking you in season 7?

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Well, it’s kind of yet to be determined, you know? We’re obviously diving into that, but there’s not a whole lot I can talk about, but we are exploring that. I can tell you that I’m excited about it. And I’m enjoying playing it.

Do you think Carol can get past her crisis of faith? Can she ever truly be happy?

I want to say yes she can. You know, when I put it into the context of this world and what it’s become, it is what it is. I think that even within that world, there’s room for happiness. Totally happy? I don’t know about that. But there’s definitely room for hope and happy moments. I want to believe that.

In season 6, Carol has that short romance with Tobin. Do you think that she is a character who should be in a relationship on the show? Do you think that’s something that could be revisited later on?

I don’t know. I guess, maybe. As long as she’s alive, anything could happen, I suppose. You know that between her and Tobin, I think it was an important moment for them—for her in particular, I think. And also everyone around [Alexandria] needs some comfort, but… She’s making her list of her kills and all this stuff, and knowing they’re going to go into this battle the next day, and she’s already feeling very self-conscious about what she has to do and how things end up. I think it was important for her to bounce off of someone else. What’s cool is how he lends his perspective to her in that moment. I think she needed to feel human again.

It was definitely very humanizing.

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Yeah. When we’re just always living on the verge of becoming a monster, like the ones you’re trying to fight off.

Right. Speaking of monsters, what’s it been like working with Jeffrey Dean Morgan?

Well, I saw him – I can’t really talk about anything in this new season, whether I have or have not – but it was pretty amazing watching that finale when he first got there. He has so much material to go… I mean, he’s just a pro. He’s so prepared. And also, he’s just great to have as part of the gang now. He’s got a very cool personality. He’s well-liked with cast and crew.

Even though you’re not in the Negan scene at the end of season 6, I can imagine it was still tough going to work on the first episode of season 7. What’s it like on set when you know you’re about to say goodbye to a coworker?

Oh gosh… Well, there’s just a very somber undercurrent. And then just so true to form, we have a lot of very funny people in our cast, and it’s just – even though it’s somber, there’s still laughter, and… I don’t know. Maybe just something about some actors that, I don’t know, kind of grow up trying to deflect from sadnesses, you know? I guess I call them tap dancer. So there was laughter, but there’s always just that… You’re going to miss the people who’s going away. I miss Emily and Jeffrey DeMunn – just everybody that’s gone.

That must takes its toll because you’re from the original season. You’re one of the original cast members, so you’ve seen so many people go already.

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Yeah. And it never gets any easier.

An interesting thing about the Walking Dead is how the introduction of a new villain really shakes up the status quo for the other characters. How do you think Negan has changed the show going into season 7?

Well, the dynamic is just so amazing. He’s the worst villain that we’ve ever encountered, and it changes everything. He’s got our people at his mercy. I don’t we’ve ever been at anyone’s mercy like that.

Yeah. It seems like it’s the first time where the group doesn’t have a fighting chance.

Yeah. It certainly appears that way.

When I was talking to Jeffrey, he told me that this season would transcend the level of violence that we’ve seen in the past on the show.

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I have to agree with that. I remember in the finale, it won’t be long into the first episode that we find out what happened from the finale. But a lot of people were saying they left. “They just didn’t have the balls, or they didn’t have the guts to show it, or it’s just too much…” I’m just thinking ahead to the premiere, I’m just kind of speechless when I think about. I agree with Jeffrey.

I’m guessing that you get asked a lot who the victim is, right?

Yes, I do. And it’s funny though because people will ask, and then I’ll say, “Do you really want to know, though? Do you really want to know?” And they get, “Well…” thinking that I might tell them actually. Of course, I’m not going to. I mean, when it comes right down to it, they think that “Well, yeah, yeah, here’s my chance. I could really know,” they don’t want to know! They’re like, “No, I don’t want to know. Don’t tell me. I’ll wait.”

And that’s probably true of most fans, even the ones that were angry at the finale are probably like, “Keep it till the season premiere.”

Yeah. And it’s okay for them to be upset that it was a cliffhanger, but I think they’ll be tuning in. I mean, you’re just the diehard fans. I get upset sometimes with cliffhangers, but that’s part of the show. I kind of enjoy it. It’s something to look forward.

Speaking of cliffhangers, Carol and Morgan spend a lot of time together in season 6 and it seems like they finally understand one another by the end. What do you think continues to bind these two characters to each other? 

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I think it’s just the expression of that core desire, and both of them exploring other ways of dealing in this world. I think that the binding thing is that they both have this expressed desire. You know, his is obviously more expressed than hers. But it’s the same thing, and if it can be any other way than to become like these monsters we’re trying to defend ourselves from. That all just was so beautifully expressed in “The Same Boat.” We are becoming those people.

I feel like at the end of last season, it seems like you both met each other half way too, in terms of your philosophies.

Well, you know, he was forced to make a choice in that split second. And you know, this issomething that Carol has known all along, which is what she’s trying to get away from. And when she’s down on the ground bleeding, she’s not going to say I told you so. But she’s not going to say “thank you” necessarily. She’s not going to say… What did she say? She said “just leave me alone.” I mean, we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I don’t think it clears anything one way or another. She knew it all along.

It’s interesting because it seems like Carol and Morgan at this point, after everything that’s happened, kind of need each other. Are the two characters finally going to be friends?

Well, we’ll see what happens in season 7. They obviously – we saw from the trailer – they make it to this place called the Kingdom. We’ll see what happens there.

What’s it like being on the set for the Kingdom?

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The Kingdom is a really cool set. The set design and set decoration is just really, really creative over there. The Kingdomites, they’ve got it going on! It’s a very interesting place, interesting characters, and of course, there’s King Ezekiel. I’m excited that the fans are going to get to see him, finally.

I’m guessing you were all very relieved when you found out there wasn’t going to be a live tiger on set.

Well, I don’t know. I think having a live tiger would’ve been really nice! I like cats. I’m a cat person. 

Having a live tiger would’ve been a liability! It would’ve been cool, but nobody wants that liability because animals are unpredictable.

Do you think the other cast members feel the same way about the tiger?

I don’t know. We were just really impressed with what we do have. We weren’t just standing around going “Gee, I wish we had a real one.” We were all standing around going “Jeez, how did they do that?” This tiger is really amazing. Just seeing the animatronics alone, I’m anxious to see once they get the special effects added to it, how neat that’s going to be.

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Another thing I really love about Carol is how fierce she is in battle. And season 6 had some pretty big action setpieces, with the walkers and Negan’s gang. Can we expect some similar action sequences in season 7?

Well, you know, she’s been injured, so… We’ll have to see how agile she is.

I know you guys finished filming the first half of season 7. How would you describe the first half of the season as a whole?

Welcome to the new world…

That’s interesting. Jeffrey also gave me a very short answer. He said, “Brutal.”

Yeah, I concur.

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So unlike some of the other characters, you don’t really have the luxury of knowing what’s next for your character based on the comics. Is that nerve-racking for you? Do you live in fear that you’ll be killed off on the show?

No, I’ve come to terms that it just comes with the territory, and it’s part of the story that we’re telling. I know that anything can happen, and not knowing is exciting. On one hand, it’s frustrating because the fans what to know, and I want to know. What’s going to happen? But then it’s just so fun to crack open a script and see it for the first time.

Well, Melissa, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you. The Walking Dead returns on October 23 at 9 pm on AMC.

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.

Don’t forget to listen to Den of Geek’s Walking Dead podcast, No Room in Hell!