The cast and crew of AMC’s hit television show "The Walking Dead" are used to working with stumbling, lifeless corpses. Rowdy, liquored up Milwaukeeans, on the other hand, are a very different story. At least that’s the way it seemed as a large crowd of vocal fans welcomed Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and producer/director/make-up artist Greg Nicotero to the Riverside Saturday night.
That’s certainly not to say that it wasn’t a fun event. Instead, it was like three separate events – one-third thoughtful behind-the-scenes discussion, one-third intimate night out with the cast, one-third chaotically entertaining fangasm – inelegantly mashed into a single 90-minute session. The drunken mayhem (if the stars are to be believed, the 7:00 show was a far more sober affair) meant the celebrity sit-down probably didn’t fulfill every Dead-head’s desire, but it was sure to leave everyone with at least an amused smile planted on their face.
After showing a few clips from the current season (which, as Nicotero pointed out, received crowd interaction on a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" level), the cast took their seats on the couches – or on Nicotero’s lap, in Reedus’s case – scattered on the stage. Master of ceremonies Kyle Ryan from the A.V. Club got the conversation going with a few questions, mainly about how the cast members got involved with the monster hit and the rigors of shooting in the killer heat of Atlanta.
Keeping both the cast and the crowd on track, however, would prove to be a futile mission. From the beginning of the night, Reedus was the most easily distracted. Most of the time, the culprit was the crowd, yelling out dedications of love to their favorite star and summoning multiple rounds of PBR up to the stage (by the end of the night, there were about ten Tall Boys scattered around the stage). Other times, it was simply Reedus’s microphone, which he couldn’t stop fiddling with throughout the evening.
Even with all of the distractions and yelling, for the first hour, Ryan drew interesting answers and entertaining anecdotes from his star-studded panel. Though a bit scatterbrained, Reedus provided several humorous comments and fun behind-the-scenes tales, namely a discussion about Daryl’s treasured crossbow and the convoluted "math problem" of filming the action in "The Walking Dead." One of the biggest problems? The weapons’ Nerf gun-like sounds that kill any sense of badassery the actors might feel like a bullet to a zombie’s brain.
As one might expect, it was Nicotero, the lone non-actor in the group, who provided most of the nitty-gritty technical details that hardcore fans were probably hoping to hear. He explained some of the show’s most intricate and impressive make-up effects – mainly involving blood-filled condoms – and background stories, both amusing and informative, about the show’s creation and development. His discussions about the emotion and psychology of the zombie genre even managed to silence the boisterous crowd (for a little bit, at least).
Yeun fell somewhere perfectly in the middle of Reedus’s distractedness and Nicotero’s braininess, providing answers that were equal parts entertaining and informative. He stole the show with his story about a harrowing run-in with a frisky tick that ended up in places no insect should be found. It was a hilarious tale, albeit horrifying for the gentlemen in the audience.
Reedus’s tale of saving an actual person trapped in a car accident – after a filming-related head injury no less – and Nicotero’s explanation of how actors find out (or don’t find out) their characters are getting the bullet come in a close tie for second.
It’s easy to tell Yeun, a relative newcomer, is grateful for his breakthrough role and the fans that helped make him a star. He was very cordial throughout the evening, thanking the fans in several of his answers. He had plenty of fun with the fans as well. After his Michigan origins received a fair amount of jeers from the audience, he egged the crowd on by saying thanks for Prince Fielder.
Maybe he loves his fans too much, however. During the Q&A section of the night, one particular member of the crowd yelled to Yeun that he was "delicious" – one of the few contributions from the audience that was worthy of a laugh. The actor leapt into the seats, found his adoring fan and took a question from the man.
It turned out to be a misguided decision as the Q&A went from a calm set of pre-submitted audience questions to a chaotic free-for-all. The rest of the cast followed Yeun’s lead and came out to the crowd to take questions.
The fans ate them up like, well, zombies. The questions mainly consisted of silly fanboy inquiries ("How would you do in a zombie apocalypse?" "Will you party with us later?"), which were loudly booed down by the fans. Questions and answers were yelled over one another. Reedus disappeared entirely.
The evening turned to mayhem, but it was always fun, memorable mayhem, and the game cast made the best out of the crazy crowd. I’m sure they’d rather deal with some overeager hooligans than a bunch of dead-eyed walkers.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published May 5, 2015
With new headliner and schedule announcements popping up seemingly everyday, the sunny sonic spectacle that is the Big Gig is finally beginning to take shape. But while most of the work takes place in closed-door meetings and over negotiation-heavy phone calls, a part of the Summerfest process has also been taking place on a stage right out in the open, featuring local bands hoping to win in front of a crowd of fans hoping to be won over.
Published May 1, 2015
It's easy to forget that, before it became the franchise model for everything, "The Avengers" didn't sound like a great idea.Yet Marvel and Joss Whedon took a pile of potential excess and smoothly honed it into a burst of pop entertainment. And amazingly, they've managed to make it all work yet again with "The Avengers: Age of Ultron," assembling a ton of moving parts into another thoroughly fun - if not quite as effortlessly harmonious - blockbuster.
Published April 30, 2015
Tonight, people across the country will feast their eyes on the first big blockbuster of the summer season, "The Avengers: Age of Ultron." But that's just the gigantic, explosion-filled appetizer for the upcoming summer banquet of movies to come. But which ones are looking bright, and which ones are looking a little cloudy? Allow me to put on my movie weather man cap and provide you with a seven-day forecast (more like four-month, but whatever).
Published April 29, 2015
Back when he was in high school, Midnight Reruns singer and guitarist Graham Hunt was obsessed with The Replacements. For the Milwaukee-based rock band, those high school dreams are becoming a reality. The local rockers take the stage with the beloved '80s alternative music icons when they make their return to Milwaukee on Saturday, May 2 at The Rave.
Published April 29, 2015
Dr. Solomon David, a fish ecologist at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, is a huge movie buff, looking forward to "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Star Wars" and all of the other big blockbusters coming out this year. As it turns out, however, he's made quite a small blockbuster of his own recently: "Leech-nado," a one minute and 50 second clip featuring a squirm-inducing school of leeches swimming and wiggling through a Green Bay waterway.
Published April 28, 2015
The cover photo for the new album "Middle Western" - featuring a dusty cowboy riding, what else, a deer - tells you most of what you need to know about the Wisconsin band Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. The group will bring that playful mix of new and old to the Turner Hall Ballroom on Friday, May 1. Before then, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with guitarist and vocalist Adam Greuel about the new tunes.
Published April 26, 2015
Adapted from the 2005 memoir of the same name, "True Story" plays like an intriguingly well-paved road to nowhere. The movie certainly presents plenty of interesting pieces: two actors - Jonah Hill and James Franco - playing against type but perfectly cast, a post-Oscar nomination Felicity Jones and a bizarre real story. Part by part, it's fairly engaging, but when it comes time to add everything together, the final sum is as nondescript as its title.
Published April 23, 2015
Lord Huron doesn't quite trek to the stars like it said it might on its new album "Strange Trails," but the folk band is still going places. Its dreamy musical vistas have nabbed a big audience -- so much so that demand moved the band's return to The Pabst Theater on Saturday, April 25 over to the Riverside. Before then, I got a chance to chat with frontman Ben Schneider about "Strange Trails," the stories that come with it and going to space (at some point).
Published April 22, 2015
I've had some less than flattering things to say about found footage in recent years, calling it things like "the worst of today's low budget Hollywood filmmaking" and "a thing that shouldn't exist anymore." So let's all take a moment and marvel at the fact that in the new techno-horror flick "Unfriended," the found footage-esque visual gimmick not only works, but it's the best part of the movie. The result isn't much for scares, but it is scarily entertaining.
Published April 21, 2015
Welcome back to Unceremonious Overqualified Movie Dump Theatre. The most recent entry: "Child 44," which features an impressive roster of stars but was cut down to a mere 510 theaters just a few weeks before its release. It was a bad omen and unfortunately an accurate one as well, as the apparent lack of confidence from the studio equals a lack of quality on the screen.