The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun on Glenn’s changing role as the prison and Woodbury collide
Q: Season 3 Episode 7, “When the Dead Come Knocking,” is intense. Was this your first time ever being taken hostage?
A: You know, I’d been held hostage the first year, and then I was held hostage by my own people going down into the well last season! But this year, it was cool to show a little bit of mettle to Glenn, to see what he’d become.
Q: Do you feel like you’re now trained to be able to escape from a similar strapped to a chair situation, if one ever arose?
A: It wasn’t as difficult as it seemed, luckily. Turning over the chair on your back isn’t easy, but standing up on it while being strapped to it wasn’t as hard as a thought it would be. It was a blast. I hope I’d be as good. But if anyone is smart, they’d strap my legs to the chair as well.
Q: Do you have a favorite walker kill from this season?
A: Having the experience of choreographing that whole struggle of chair breaking and then coming alive and having to hit that walker in the head with a jagged chair was satisfying. That was awesome.
Q: The group gets to kill lots of walkers this season. Was it an actor’s dream come true?
A: It was awesome. Trying to figure out new ways to kill these things is fun, as well as choreographing all that stuff. It’s satisfying to kill one. People get into it. When we’re filming and the responsibility comes to you to kill a walker and you’re like, “Everybody trusts me to do this,” it’s a feeling that permeates from the character to the actor.
Q: Melissa McBride (Carol) talked about how the prison offered some comfort from the Georgia heat. Did that make it difficult to look like a survivor of a zombie apocalypse?
A: Being outside in the heat is always nice when you’re trying to look miserable, but air conditioning is always good. You have to sit there and readjust to the surroundings, but somehow the set crew designed the inside of the prison to be just as disgusting as the outside. I don’t know what they did, but it sucked in there too.
A: I think they made a mistake in that moment and let their guard down. That’s what happens when you have love in the apocalypse! The stakes aren’t as high in the real world — if you were to go shopping for baby formula, I don’t think someone would come up to you and steal your girlfriend. But in that situation, it’s almost terrible to have that attachment.
Q: Is Michael Rooker as frightening as he seems?
A: Michael Rooker is quite the character, he’s in it. He’s Merle. We just played it real. There’s a lot of trust with us that’s awesome. You just kind of have us play out something, and just film it. It’s not such a grand process; it’s just everyone’s game and everyone’s down to try something new and make it look good. It’s a collaborative effort that goes surprisingly fast.
Q: Were there any sort of personal adjustments that you added to that scene?
A: Just kind of the whole feeling of what happens when you’re pummeled. I tried to play up how painful it would be to get around when your ribs are almost broken, your face almost broken, and all. Also, I tried to incorporate what you do when you’re in that much rage — it was a whole process.
Q: Glenn and Maggie have a scene where they wake up in the guard tower. How’d you get up there?
A: They build out everything on the prison, it’s crazy, but the only thing they didn’t do was build steps up to the guard tower! So we had to take a crane up there, which was a fun experience.
Q: Glenn has emerged as one of the leaders of the group. Is this a situation you’ve ever been in yourself?
A: For me personally, the challenges of this season were about filling the holes left by the people that we lost. There are a lot of amazing actors that aren’t there any more. As that happens, a little bit more responsibility is put on you in the weight you carry. So I feel like I’ve been dealt the same amount of responsibility on the show that Glenn has been dealt, and that growth has been almost one to one as each season has gone.