Walking Dead stars alive with antics

SINGAPORE - Fans of the popular television horror drama The Walking Dead were given an insight into the on- and off-screen personalities of the show's two biggest stars last Saturday.

Actors Andrew Lincoln, who plays sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, and Norman Reedus, whose on-screen persona is hunter-tracker Daryl Dixon, dodged bloodied zombies and exhibited their survival skills in an obstacle course at the atrium of Lasalle College of the Arts, watched by 250 screaming fans.

Armed with Nerf Blasters and Crossbows, toy weapons that fire foam bullets and arrows, Lincoln and Reedus shot targets and assembled puzzles in an attempt to "save" hostages.

And when their aiming was off or when the foam pellets could not penetrate targets, the actors hammed it up for cameras by ploughing through and knocking targets down with their hands instead, to the delight of squealing, smartphone-wielding fans.

The television show, which releases the second part of its fourth season on Feb 10, is based on a comic-book series of the same name. It tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies known as walkers.

The actors obliged throngs of adoring fans with selfies, autographs and group photographs.

Accounts executive Rosie Noor Yacob, 25, who managed to snag photos with both stars, said: "I was absolutely star-struck. Even the way Reedus held the crossbow was similar to how he does it on the show.

"They stopped to take photos with so many people, and I am so glad and honoured that I was one of them."

Ms Tay Peiying, 34, a sales manager, added: "One can never be too old to be a fan. Chasing after the stars of one of my favourite shows is something that I can probably talk about for years to come."

The crowd comprised mostly fans in their 20s, though some children, accompanied by their parents, were also among the audience. A handful were in their 30s and 40s.

The event, organised by Fox Movies Premium in partnership with StarHub TV, also included a 11/2-hour dialogue session hosted by actor Adrian Pang.

About 500 people, who included winners of a StarHub contest, Lasalle performing arts students, guests of Fox International Channels, freelance actors and Fly Entertainment artists, attended it.

The duo were quizzed on everything from what an average day on the set is like to how their characters have evolved over the last four seasons. Their responses were fun and spontaneous, and at times, even cheeky and somewhat rude.

For instance, when asked what body parts the actors would eat if the roles in the series were reversed and humans had to eat zombies instead, Reedus said he would eat "everything", including buttock cheeks and chest, while Lincoln replied straight-faced that he was "a breast man".

But they also showed a more serious side, offering advice to students and aspiring actors on how crucial it is to invest and immerse themselves in characters, to the extent of almost being "psychotic".

On their attitude and approach to acting, Lincoln said: "We give it everything we've got and hope it works. For me, acting is not being afraid of looking like a d**k (on stage or in films)."

They also emphasised that each actor's path can be different. While Lincoln, who is British, attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, a drama school in London, Reedus "fell into acting". He chanced upon an acting opportunity after quitting his job as a motorcycle mechanic.

Reedus said: "Everyone's path is individual. I'm always learning. I'm hungry all the time."

Freelance scriptwriter Suffian Hakim, 27, said: "My respect for them deepened after the question-and-answer segment.

"Andrew is a professional who is so dedicated to his craft, while Norman's key strength as an instinctive actor was showcased through his interaction with both Adrian (the host) and the audience."


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.