‘The Walking Dead’ Q&A: Gale Anne Hurd On Exploring More About Abraham, Rosita & Eugene In Season 5

“The Walking Dead” is back this Sunday.

AMC’s runaway hit returns with an incredibly intense episode that picks up right where it left off – with Rick Grimes’ survivalist family (Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, Bob, and new additions Abraham, Rosita and Eugene) in that train car at Terminus.

Among the themes viewers can look forward to seeing explored this season?

PHOTOS: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Premiere

“We return to: Who are you in the zombie apocalypse? Can you maintain your humanity? Can you regain it when you’ve lost it? And also, can we find hope in a cure, which is something we’ve never done before,” Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd told Access Hollywood on the red carpet at the show’s Season 5 premiere.

When Access also spoke with Gale in a separate interview by phone, she revealed more details about what viewers can expect in the weeks ahead, including getting to know certain characters more. She also discussed Andrew Lincoln’s dedication to portraying Rick. But first, we had to ask Gale about her upcoming blast from the past – the 30th anniversary screening of 1984’s “The Terminator,” a film she originally produced and wrote with James Cameron.

AccessHollywood.com: There’s a screening coming up for ‘Terminator’ in Los Angeles [at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on October 15] with Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron. What can people expect of that event?
Gale Anne Hurd:
Well, we’re gonna have a panel, so people will be able to actually ask us questions and we’ll take a nice little walk down memory lane. It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been 30 years. I don’t feel that old (laughs), and it’ll be interesting to see it on the big screen again, which is fantastic. It’s screened obviously quite a bit on TV, but to be able to see it on the big screen — I think it’s certainly going to be a thrill for me.

Access: Do any of your ‘Walking Dead’ cast ask you about your experiences on those films? I’m sure there must be quite a few fans among the group.
Yes, absolutely… in fact, there’s a new character on the show – I can’t talk about it because it hasn’t been announced – who told me that he wanted to get into the industry after watching ‘Terminator,’ long after it came out, albeit, because he wasn’t born when it did, but that it was a huge inspiration to him. So that was pretty exciting, and it was very funny because I was giving him a ride somewhere and he literally peppered me with questions the entire time. So, it was fun. I had to struggle a bit to remember exactly what happened, but ultimately, it all came back to me.

Access: So, let’s talk about this season… I remember talking to Greg Nicotero when the DVDs were coming out for Season 4 and he was talking about the threat of the walkers and how he and Scott [Gimple, ‘TWD’s’ showrunner] had a conversation about wanting to make them scarier, and so I guess my question to you is, how scary are they going to be?
Greg Nicotero and his team at KNB Efx, have always done a fantastic job bringing them to life, but as they’ve evolved over the seasons, they’ve gotten more and more monstrous because the older walkers — sort of the ‘Patient Zero’ walkers — [have] become less and less human. They’re more desiccated. Their human features have changed considerably, so they’re pretty monstrous, but we also get to shake that up because there are always newly made walkers who may have only become walkers a week ago [or] a few days ago. But I think what really sells the walkers, and [credit] to their fantastic work, is how the characters respond to them, and they remain a threat. You never know when you’re going to encounter one and you can’t let your guard down for a moment.

Access: Three big characters were introduced… last season – Abraham, Eugene and Rosita — and we haven’t had a ton of them, but I’m kind of curious how important they’re going to be to the arc of the season, because we did get a hint that there is a mission there.
Believe me, they are absolutely essential and we’ll have an opportunity to get to know them all considerably better in Season 5.


Access: Will that include backstories?
I think you can rest assured that you’ll know a lot more. Whether or not there are flashbacks, I can’t say, but certainly the longer that they’re with our core group of survivors, the more they’ll want to know how they fit in, can they be trusted? They know a bit, but I’m sure they’re eager to know a lot more, just as the fans are.

Access: And how Eugene developed his unique style of speaking! You guys must have a lot of fun with Josh [McDermitt, who plays Dr. Eugene Porter]. I’ve spoken with him before and he’s a very funny guy [to interview], but [on screen] he delivers his lines so well.
Exactly and it’s surprising – Eugene is a very difficult role to play, and there are times when we’re on set and we’re in complete awe of him, of Josh and the performance that he gives, because you’re really buying it that he is Eugene and then he comes over and changes in an instant and is back to being his normal self as opposed to sort of his Asperger’s [Eugene] self. The character, I don’t know, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of psychologists left alive in the zombie apocalypse, so I don’t know if he’ll ever be actually described as Asperger’s, but he seems to have those traits.

Access: Interesting. That’ s a good point. So let me just talk to you about the big matter at hand as we approach the season premiere, which is that you left the group in the train car.
I know! We’ve never done that before. We’ve never ended on a cliffhanger like that.

Access: As soon as you guys decided you were going to put them in the train car, were the ideas there right away [about what to do next] or did they leave that on the table, go away for a few months?
Scott Gimple and his very devious mind, he really saw things through, not only for last season, but he an idea that he told the rest of the writers’ room and fellow executive producers about before we finished filming last season and in the intervening months, but we just don’t share that with the cast. We always want to make sure we have a few surprises up our sleeve.

Access: You guys knew, and you didn’t have to have the anxiety, but you left the cast to suffer?
It’s the zombie apocalypse, you know? There’s some things that they are in on, but they actually – Andy [Lincoln] especially, has basically said, ‘I can’t watch the show because I want to live the role as if it’s completely real — as if Rick Grimes really exits.’ So Rick Grimes wouldn’t know what’s happening, and Rick Grimes wouldn’t be watching himself in the TV series.

Access: That’s true, because there would be no power to watch it either.
Yeah, exactly.

“The Walking Dead” returns Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on AMC.

Jolie Lash

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