Not only was this week’s The Walking Dead episode an emotional beatdown for Daryl, but it was also a dark, cold, dirty experience for actor Norman Reedus.
If there was one prevailing theme in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, it was misery. Norman Reedus, as Daryl, was kept in the dark cell for days (weeks?) on end. He didn’t shower, and it surely didn’t look like there was a toilet in there. Oh, and did I mention he was eating dog food sandwiches every day?
Cold, Naked, and Dirty
Image Credit: AMC
Entertainment Weekly talked to Norman Reedus about filming ‘The Cell.’ Reedus confirmed that filming the episode was just as miserable as it looked. “Yeah, it was cold. I won’t lie,” he said. “But it was really dirty more than anything. It was weird to sit on that floor butt naked. I mean, I was totally naked, so it was rough.”
Daryl didn’t just look dirty — he looked straight-up nasty. It was less about dirt and more about the sheen of sweat and grime building up over time. “Addison, our makeup dude, he was just constantly pouring makeup on me,” said Reedus. “Yeah, that was I think one of the filthiest I’ve ever been on this show, if not the filthiest. I mean, I’m very happy to be out of those sweatpants and that sweatshirt — that jail suit that they gave me. It was just itchy and horrible. It was gross.”
One of the most talked-about aspects of the episode was the upbeat song played over and over again to torture Daryl. Fortunately, they didn’t actually play the song on the set. “No, I haven’t seen the episode. I don’t know what song they used,” said Reedus. (For the record, the song is called “Easy Street” by the band The Collapsable Hearts Club.) “I know it was originally written as a children’s song, a little children’s song, but they couldn’t get it. I think it’s very difficult to get music rights in a torture scene.”
Dwight vs. Daryl
The entire episode is essentially a battle of wills between Daryl and Dwight. Unfortunately for Dwight, the parallels between Daryl and himself are what further Daryl’s resolve. He looks at Dwight as everything he doesn’t want to become. “There is sort of this Bizarro World thing going on between the two of us in this episode,” said Reedus. “Remember, he met him before, and he seemed like he could’ve been a good guy, and he’s turned out to be a slave to Negan and does whatever he says. And I think Dwight, looking back at that; he wishes he could rewind and start over, and I think that there’s something good in Dwight that Daryl sees, but it’s a tiny sliver now. Now I think he just wants to kill him.”
Near the episode’s end, after Daryl rejects Negan’s offer, he has an intimate moment with Dwight. Daryl says, “I get why you did it. Why you took it. You were thinking about someone else. That’s why I can’t.”
Daryl and Dwight have a history, and he knows Dwight’s ex-wife Sherry. So, despite their differences, Daryl at least understands Dwight’s choice. “Of course, and that’s a noble thing to do, but it’s the same reason why Daryl can’t do what Dwight does,” said Reedus.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Viewers are just beginning Season 7, but for the cast, filming is nearly done this year. Perhaps more than any other season, it’s been a hard season to film for the cast. “It’s been a very emotional season for everybody. It’s a different season. I mean, we saw last week there’s some fun things, but it’s also very serious, and then it’s a very dark, dark season, and hopefully there is light at the end of that tunnel,” said Reedus. “You have to be broken way down to be able to go way up, and I think that’s kind of what this season is about.”