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Apocalypse now?

Walking Dead star thinks hit show plays into viewers' fears about the end of the world

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CALGARY -- One of the stars from The Walking Dead has an interesting perspective on why viewers can't get enough of the wildly popular AMC television megahit, which has just concluded its third season.


Steven Yeun suggests the series, which is based on comic books of the same name, is tapping into a global uneasiness already out there.

The show stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who wakes up after being in a coma to find out the world has become dominated by zombies. Grimes sets out to find his family and any other human survivors along the way.

Yeun, who plays former pizza delivery boy Glen Rhee, joined the cast way back in the second episode of Season 1.

"I think the draw of the zombie genre to begin with was always about the survival," Yeun says in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"It was always the idea of how do you come back from this apocalyptic situation and stay alive? I think for our show it's kind of cool, because in the world there's sort of this global feeling of apocalypse, regardless of whether it's justified, or if it's just kind of with the financial crisis or whatever it is."

Yeun said it's no surprise that a shaky world economy or threats of a nuclear attack by North Korea are causing the viewing public to flock to the Georgia-filmed show in droves.

"It's cool to jump in and watch a television show and say, 'Hey, I might be that character in real life' and follow him or her the entire way through. It's definitely the characters."

He said he talks to a lot of people who say it's not even the type of show they would normally watch, but they're drawn in. For instance, included in the viewership is a high percentage of female viewers, which is unusual for a sci-fi television series which is anything but short on gore.

"I think it's Norman Reedus, but he'd hate me if I said that," Yeun says with a laugh in reference to the actor who plays Daryl Dixon, one of the main zombie hunters.

"He's a good-looking man. He's a true badass and he has a heart of gold. If you're not dialling in to watch that, I don't know what you're doing."

The fourth season is scheduled to begin in October and the show has not been shy about killing off main characters. Last season saw the deaths of Lori Grimes, the main character's wife; Merle Dixon, Daryl's brother; and a former lawyer named Andrea.

"You definitely don't want to have that phone call where they tell you you're not going to live," says Yeun.

"I think to an extent you make peace with it and ... to be a part of it in any amount is pretty great. And if you die, they'll kill you off in the way that is most impactful."

Yeun's character has evolved from a cautious young man bent on survival in Season 1 to a leader who has found a love interest named Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and thinks nothing of going head-to-head with a zombie.

"In regard to Glen, he always had that fighting spirit within him. It was just kind of unlocked in the last couple of seasons -- one due to Maggie and the other due to the fact that he was almost eaten alive.

"It's a transformation that has been in the works. It's cool to play this character, because he's someone who's growing and evolving like a normal person would."

Yeun hasn't received any of his scripts for Season 4 -- and wouldn't be at liberty to say anything about the show's direction anyway. But he figures he's likely to become a husband after proposing to Maggie last season.

"The direction that we're going to head, I heard, is just building the world."

There will be a return of The Governor (David Morrissey), a sociopathic leader who killed most of his own men after a failed attack on the heroes in the Season 3 finale.

"In the comic, he was kind of evil from the beginning, but what was really great was that David Morrissey gave him his own arc within the confines of the season," says Yeun.

"I'm excited to see what will come out of this coming year. I think it's going to be insane the stuff that they come up with."


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 c11

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