Zombie Crawl: The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun on Being Glenn

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The Walking Dead premieres on Halloween, and we can’t be more excited to see some zombie action on the small screen. We’ve got tons of exclusive interviews from the upcoming series for you guys this week, so stay tuned to find more about the series.

Recently, we caught up with Steven Yeun who plays Glenn in the show. He talked about what it was like being chased by zombies, working in the Hotlanta climate and whether or not, as a fan of the series, he’s happy with Frank Darabont’s adaptation.

Michelle Castillo: Did you decide to audition for Glen right away?

Steven Yeun: My first audition was for Glenn, and it was pretty much that since the beginning. I was just another actor going in to get a role. There was no choice for me really except for auditioning for Glen.

Afterwards what drew me to Glen as a character, he’s kind of close to the chest. He was similar to how I was around his age: always looking for someone to look up to, searching to make his stamp on the world.

MC: What did you do to prepare for the audition?

SY: I read (the comic book series) over again. I actually had been a fan since 2005. I moved to Chicago, and my friend told me to read it. I read from issue 1 to issue 68. It was pretty intense. The comic is pretty dark. It kind of leaves you in a weird place if you sit through it for an entire day.

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MC: Do you typically read comic books?

SY: I wouldn’t call myself a huge comic book fan out of respect for those who are. It really only started after college. I always had a huge fanship for superheroes and stuff like that that. Recently in the last five years, I’ve got more into it.

MC: What are you reading now?

SY: I just read yesterday I Kill Giants. I was actually reading it on the flight over from Chicago. I finished it on the plane, and I had to hold back tears out of respect for the woman next to me so she wouldn’t think I was crazy.

MC: Your character is pretty close to Rick Grimes. Did you do anything to prepare with Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays the character?

SY: I didn’t know Andy prior to the show which is unfortunate, but it was because he lived all the way to the UK. So I purposely went a week early to set. Andy was like, “Hey man lets hang out.” We met up on set and hung out a couple times. He’s such a great actor and person. What was great about episode two is he really took me under his wing. He kind of coached me too.

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MC: How difficult was it to shoot in the Atlanta climate?

SY: Literally the first shot I had ever shot for the show I had to sprint down the street, avoid the zombies, grab these two bags and sprint back down the street. I was, “Okay I’m ready for this.” I keep in shape and run at home. After the first take, the line producer said, “You look green. Get a banana and some water.”

When I found out we were shooting in Atlanta, I thought, “I’m from Michigan.” I thought I would be used to the humidity. I’ve been through the humidity before. I’ve felt it before. It stinks, but I’ll be fine. Nothing would have prepared me for Atlanta. It was doing everything in a steam room/sauna. The situation and the conditions are really just miserable. It really reads in our faces.

MC: So you had to run and do everything in that weather?

SY: All of that was real. I don’t think there was ever a stunt we ever held back on, aside for driving, stunt driving. There were some points where (production) would say, “Hey guys, you guys just cool out were going to have a stunt double.” We got so caught up in the moment we did it anyway.

We had 100 extras in zombie gear chasing us in pouring rain. They told us to run to the fence and stop, but having the zombie apocalypse chase you or whatever, you think going to die. I actually did a flip (over the fence, instead of stopping). I climbed that fence so fast. I landed upside down with my leg caught in the thing. It was just so fun. Well, that part (falling) wasn’t so fun for a while.

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MC: As a fan of the series, are you happy with what the show focuses on?

SY: Without giving anything away, I think we’re going to try to remain as true to the cannon as possible. Any detours we take, any freedoms we take with the plot is always going to be an additional thing, instead of a change. Knowing Frank Darabont is a personal fan of the comic book means they won’t change anything around. (Darabont) was such a proponent of the comic, which was what was so great about (this project). He thought, “It’s a great comic, so why fix it?”

MC: What’s it like working with adapted material?

SY: It’s pretty nuts knowing what the future could be. Again what’s so exciting is we are taking some detours. We could be on book eight by the second season. It kind of lends itself this freedom because TV is such a different medium. I think what’s great about The Walking Dead: You always have source material to draw from.

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MC: Glen is still alive in the comic book, but the comic book series isn’t finished. Have you started sucking up to writer Robert Kirkman to not kill you off?

SY: I’ve lived so long in the comic – I think I’m with Andrea and Rick still – you know what even if he kills me off now, I would hope we wouldn’t get there in the TV show for another 10 seasons. Right now, I’m just keeping cool, seeing the speed things are going in the show. I’ll see where we are, and if it’s speeding up, maybe I’ll start sending fruit baskets to Kirkman’s house or something. (laughs)