Interview with Norman Reedus

Christina Parrella

As zombie fans already know, The Walking Dead is one of the most popular (and goriest) post-apocalyptic shows on television. The drama's fourth season premieres on October 13, immediately following the cast's appearance at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center here in NYC. We sat down with actor Norman Reedus, who plays zombie-slaying, crossbow-carrying survivalist Daryl Dixon, to chat about Comic Con, living in New York City and his new photography book.

Are you excited for this year's Comic Con? Norman Reedus: Yeah, it's a lot of fun. A lot of the fans are younger, so I call them “little Walking Dead people.” I get to see tiny little Rick Grimeses walking around.

You have very enthusiastic fans. Is there anything about Comic Con here in New York that differs from the event in other cities? NR: In New York, you can go out and see the City when you're done. In San Diego, you're just out at the beach. I mean, they're both awesome. But I live here, so it's much better for me.

Why do you think viewers connect with your character so much? NR: He definitely has a lot of layers. He was basically going to be his big brother—he was going to be mini Merle—and I tried to play him like he was embarrassed to be growing up like that. You know he didn't want to take drugs and be like his brother. Now that Merle's out of the picture [Ed. note: zombie Merle died at the end of Season 3], Daryl has started to become his own person. He's very loyal; [the other characters] are helping him become a new man.

What are your plans for the premiere? NR: Every year I do the same thing: I sit down with my son, get a lot of ice cream, and we scream at the TV. He loves the show. In the beginning he would watch it through his fingers—it's kind of scary—but now he gets some love from the older kids at school who are Daryl Dixon fans. He's really into it.

Tell us about your new book of photographs, The Sun's Coming Up …Like a Big Bald Head. Where does the title come from? NR: I have this website called The name comes from when I was a kid and my mom took me to a Laurie Anderson concert. [Anderson] came out wearing this glow-in-the-dark outfit with glow-in-the-dark violin. Her head popped up on the screen behind her and she said, “The sun is coming up like a big bald head.” I was really little, so I was like, “What the f*** is that?” It stuck with me.

The book captures a lot of cool places you've been—everything from behind-the-scenes shots of The Walking Dead to a maximum-security prison in Russia. NR: Yeah, I get opportunities to travel to a lot of weird places and see unusual things. I've been documenting them for the last 12 years or so.

As a longtime New Yorker, how would you say the City inspires you? NR: There's an openness to New York and New Yorkers in general that I'm really fond of. It's one of those places where you're out and about amongst people all day. I'm not dissing Los Angeles or anything—I like it too—but you're in a car so much in LA. Here everyone is saying hi to you.

What activities would you recommend for a first-time visitor? NR: When people visit I usually tell them to go to Central Park and get in those boats. That was one of the first things I did when I got here. There's something about gliding on the water, with all the buildings around you, that's so nice.

What are some of your favorite NYC haunts? NR: I never really go above Houston Street, except for the park. Lucien is my favorite restaurant—it's slightly above Houston at First and 1st. I like Bread, which is by me. I live in Chinatown so I'm constantly bouncing around down here.

OK, here's a very important question: will you dress up as a zombie for Halloween? NR: [Laughs] Well, we usually work on Halloween, so usually I'm Daryl Dixon. But last year I really wanted to be Dog the Bounty Hunter. The year before I was trying to be Larry David. That didn't work.

What do you like about being in NYC for Halloween? NR: It's interesting being here for Halloween because where I live kids don't go to houses to trick-or-treat; they go to restaurants and bars and stores. It's great to see local business supporting all the kids in the neighborhood. It's completely different [from where I grew up]. I love it. My son has dressed up as so many different things—KISS, a blue horse. It's fun.