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Interview: The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus

The Walking Dead’s biggest badass—and proud New Yorker—previews the upcoming season of AMC’s blood-soaked smash.

 (Photograph: Gene Page/AMC)
Photograph: Gene Page/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

 (Photograph: Gene Page/AMC)
Photograph: Gene Page/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

 (Photograph: Gene Page/AMC)
Photograph: Gene Page/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

 (Photograph: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)
Photograph: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

 (Photograph: Gene Page/AMC)
Photograph: Gene Page/AMC

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

Before landing the role of hillbilly-with-a-heart Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus was mostly known for starring in the 1999 cult fave The Boondock Saints. “When I first started, movies was what you were aiming for—just movies,” the 44-year-old NYC resident tells us while taking a break from shooting the AMC hit’s upcoming season. “And if an actor came up and said, ‘Hey, I got this TV show,’ you’d just pat ’em on the back and go, ‘Keep trying!’ Now it’s completely different.”

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Time Out New York:You’re in Atlanta shooting the new episodes, right?

Norman Reedus: Yeah, well, I stay in this town that’s way out in the woods. The whole cast is up in Atlanta, but I stay down here. I’m kind of secluded and have this eco-friendly thing going on.

Time Out New York:I never pictured you as a nature lover. 
Norman Reedus: A dang hippie? [Laughs] No, I mean I ride a motorcycle to set and I live in Manhattan, so there’s nothing up in Atlanta I need to see. I don’t need to go to Chick-fil-A and a shopping mall, you know what I’m saying?

Time Out New York:How long have you been a New Yorker?
Norman Reedus:
Sixteen years. I love it. I always miss home when I’m away from it. All of my friends are here. I live in Chinatown and I rarely go above Houston Street. I know that’s super sad, but if I go above Houston I’m going to Central Park with my son.

Time Out New York:And what sort of bike do you ride?
Norman Reedus: Down here I have a Triumph Scrambler. It’s a custom bike made by this company called Hammarhead. It has big knobby tires for these dirt roads. So it’s just nice to live out in the country and ride, you know? Instead of traffic, I have cows going by me. It’s awesome.

Time Out New York:Are there any similarities between you and your character, Daryl, besides owning a sweet ride?
Norman Reedus: I’m pretty awkward. Socially, I don’t have the best skills in the world. That’s like Daryl. He also wears his heart on his sleeve; he means what he says…and that’s a lot like me. But he’s a lot tougher than I am. I think he started off as a very “Fuck you, fuck you, I’ll kill you” [kind of guy]. But then he sees that he’s not better off on his own. He sort of found this sense of worth through these people. But, you know, with this season that can change.

Time Out New York:What can we expect in season four? 
Norman Reedus: The scripts are so mind-blowingly good this season. Andy [star Andrew Lincoln] called me last night at one in the morning and says, “Did you read [episode] 14?!?” and I was like, “Not yet,” and he’s like, “Oh my God!” I said, “Don’t tell me!,” and he told me everything. He couldn’t contain himself.

Time Out New York:I like the use of music on the show. What bands are you into?
Norman Reedus: I like Sonic Youth; I like Minor Threat, all of Jack White’s stuff. I’ve been listening to a ton of Fleetwood Mac lately. I go through phases. Bear McCreary, who does the music on the show, is great. You’d think every song would be like a Nine Inch Nails song or something, but he pulls out stuff that you don’t expect, and it works so well.

Time Out New York:You’re going to be at New York Comic Con again this year. What’s your experience there been like?
Norman Reedus: Super cool. Last year, we had, like, a little miniriot of people trying to get in line and barricades being knocked over. It was kind of insane. That sounds like it could be a scene from the show. 

Time Out New York: How much fan art do you receive?
Norman Reedus: I have a roomful. I get stuff from all over the place—tons of paintings and sculptures and masks of myself. I got a giant stained-glass window that was just sent to me; that’s pretty wild. I got a marionette puppet that’s really creepy. Some of my favorite ones are done by, like, five-year-olds.

Time Out New York:Five-year-olds watch The Walking Dead?!?
Norman Reedus: Oh God, yeah. Five-year-olds, 50-year-olds, 85-year-olds…

The Walking Dead’s fourth season premieres Sun 13 on AMC. Reedus joins “AMC’s The Walking Dead Panel” at Comic Con Sat 12 6:30–7:30pm on Main Stage 1-D.