There have been plenty of shocks on “The Walking Dead” over the years, but Sunday night gave viewers arguably the most chilling episode in four seasons.
Fans have watched as beloved characters (like Hershel) were struck down by psychotic grownups (like The Governor), or when they fought walkers and gave their lives (like T-Dogg) for someone else. But, seeing the disintegration of young Lizzie, who killed her sister Mika in an attempt to prove to Melissa McBride’s Carol and Chad Coleman’s Tyreese that walkers aren’t bad (they’re just different), made some viewers’ blood run cold.
And it was the aftermath of that incident, where Carol took Mika outside and told her to look at the flowers, as she pulled out her gun and killed the young girl, that was one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in “Walking Dead” memory. As it turns out, it was just as difficult for Melissa to film, AccessHollywood.com found out, when we spoke with her on Monday following her stellar work in “The Grove” episode.
Melissa McBride: Yeah, wow.
Access: I was waiting for my Carol episode, but I really was not expecting that. Were you expecting it when you read it?
Melissa: Absolutely not. No. In no way, shape or form was I expecting that. I was expecting something more, maybe, to be between Tyreese and Carol at that point. But, man, no, I wasn’t expecting that.
Access: Do you think that this maybe was the most shocking thing to ever happen on ‘The Walking Dead’ where someone has to kill a child?
Melissa: Hmm… Well, we know Rick put one down, but it was a walker, and there was Sophia. And this was a living child. I think it’s, of course, shocking, but it’s also part of Robert Kirkman’s story and it’s also, obviously, part of this arc that we have here with the children and Carol and Tyreese and when we’re dealing with state of mind of these two little girls, exploring the polarity between one child who doesn’t want to hurt anything — at least she can put down a walker, which is great — and then this other child who doesn’t understand the difference, [and] wants to kill a human being to become a walker, to live forever, it kind of had to be done.
Access: One of my coworkers thought the most disturbing thing was seeing Lizzie standing there with blood on her hand. … Filming it, is that something that is difficult to do? There were so many moments that must have been difficult for you to do as an actress, including the scene with Tyreese in the grove, where you have very little to say for a while and you just have to emote. I guess what I want to ask is, what was hardest for you to film?
Melissa: It’s all kind of equal. … They’re all kind of equal because… you’re living the life as a character in the circumstances that they’re going through. But, I get what you’re asking. I think the most difficult thing for me to shoot — me, the actor playing Carol — was Lizzie in the grove — that final scene with Lizzie in the grove. It just was the most horrifying thing to even play that out — physically play that out, me playing her, playing the character. It was so uncomfortable, so horrifying. I couldn’t wait for that scene to be over. I can detach quite a bit from what’s going on when I’m shooting some stuff with Carol. I can detach from what’s going on. I was really happy to detach from that a bit more and less conscious of playing this scene out. I think it was just very honest. Melissa was a little bit more out of the way than usual because I was uncomfortable to be there. Let’s just give it all over to Carol there for a minute.
Access: The flower thing — when Mika tells Lizzie earlier in the episode to, ‘look at the flowers,’ like she’d been told to, I know that came up at the prison, but is that also an indication that Lizzie was perhaps suffering from some sort of mental illness prior to the apocalypse?
Melissa: Yeah, you would think so, that this is her way of coping and that you know, the family has come to know that this is something that we will do for Lizzie when she’s having a little breakdown here. Yeah, this isn’t the first time that she’s shown these tendencies or has had these traumas and these meltdowns, emotional meltdowns. It’s kind of a clue that this isn’t the first time, that this is a pre-existing tendency.
Access: Do you think Carol is rethinking her decision to arm children and to teach them to be armed at the prison, following that?
Melissa: I don’t know. We’re gonna have to wait and see how this really has affected her, because I don’t think she would argue that she’s doing the [wrong] thing about giving them the tools, teaching children how to defend themselves, because the adults aren’t always gonna be around. There are gonna be times, unfortunately, when they’re going to be left alone. And, I don’t think that is the issue. I think the issue is almost in the bigger picture. It’s like everybody’s coming from a different point of view, everybody’s different. You can only do the best you can do, you can only do as much as you can do, but in the end, you can’t be responsible if you’ve done your best. I can teach them as much as I can, I can try to teach them to understand, try to instill humanity and… you think about that with Judith, who – she’s going to be coming up in this world, never having experienced the world before the apocalypse.
Access: That baby is so cute, by the way.
Melissa: She’s adorable. These twins that we had were phenomenal, and that scene… when that walker comes over the railing and Lizzie’s holding that baby, that baby took the fall with Lizzie, basically, out of the chair and cried on cue every time, was quiet when it was done and just had a smile on her face, and when we rolled again, same thing – cry, smile and it was done. Unbelievable.
Access: I want to know if you were ever worried that they were going to write you off because I feel like they found a really clever way to get Carol and Tyreese on the ‘friendly’ side of things again. It’s great they thought of that, but were you ever worried that they might be writing you out before you saw that script?
Melissa: Well you know… it crosses the mind. I was assured that she would be back, but still, nonetheless, I’m thinking this is a long time without shooting anything. Out of site, of mind, they [could] decide… you know what? Maybe they’ll – it did cross my mind, but I think that’s more me just being paranoid.
Access: I think everybody on the cast is always scared. Even Norman who has a ridiculously large fanbase has admitted [to being worried]…
Melissa: Right, there’s just no real job security when you’re shooting a show about an apocalypse and anybody could die at any time.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
-- Jolie Lash