The cast and crew of AMCâ€™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 thatâ€™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.
Thatâ€™s certainly not to say that it wasnâ€™t a fun event. Instead, it was like three separate events â€“ one-third thoughtful behind-the-scenes discussion, one-third intimate night out with the cast, one-third chaotically entertaining fangasm â€“ 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 didnâ€™t fulfill every Dead-headâ€™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 â€“ or on Nicoteroâ€™s lap, in Reedusâ€™s case â€“ 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 Reedusâ€™s microphone, which he couldnâ€™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 Darylâ€™s treasured crossbow and the convoluted "math problem" of filming the action in "The Walking Dead." One of the biggest problems? The weaponsâ€™ Nerf gun-like sounds that kill any sense of badassery the actors might feel like a bullet to a zombieâ€™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 showâ€™s most intricate and impressive make-up effects â€“ mainly involving blood-filled condoms â€“ and background stories, both amusing and informative, about the showâ€™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 Reedusâ€™s distractedness and Nicoteroâ€™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.
Reedusâ€™s tale of saving an actual person trapped in a car accident â€“ after a filming-related head injury no less â€“ and Nicoteroâ€™s explanation of how actors find out (or donâ€™t find out) their characters are getting the bullet come in a close tie for second.
Itâ€™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" â€“ 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 Yeunâ€™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. Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™d rather deal with some overeager hooligans than a bunch of dead-eyed walkers.Â
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 Jan. 24, 2015
It doesn't take long into George Lucas' bizarre new animated movie "Strange Magic" to ask "What the heck am I watching?" Not shortly after, that question turns into "Why the heck am I still watching this?" It's hard to rationalize a good answer for either.
Published Jan. 22, 2015
After the Sony hack forced "The Interview" out of its prime Christmas release slot, "Blackhat" seemed to be perfectly primed to take its place. Alas, Universal kept the film in January. And maybe that was for the best, because even with its timely sounding synopsis, "Blackhat" plays like a relic, recalling less the anxiety of today's headlines and more the warmed-over memories of yesterday's forgettable action junk and silly techno-trash.
Published Jan. 20, 2015
A day before the Common Council meets to vote on the Milwaukee streetcar plan, advocates and opponents made their final pushes to gain public support or enough signatures for a referendum.
Published Jan. 20, 2015
"Selma" is much more accomplished than "timely" gives it credit - or that its award season release and Important Movie surface may imply. It may appear like yet another Great Man Oscar bait biopic. Instead, it plays exactly like what many of those films are desperately reaching to be: a deeply powerful and deftly nuanced movie, one that beautifully captures the man and his mission with clear eyes, leaving viewers with teary ones thoroughly earned.
Published Jan. 19, 2015
After heading into the heart of the South in "The Beautiful Music All Around Us," the Milwaukee Rep now travels up to Southie in Boston, the home of the Ben Affleck, the Red Sox, pahking the cahr in Hahvahd Yahd and David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People." Taking over the award-winning role of Margie in the Rep's production is Milwaukee actress and director Laura Gordon, but it's not her first go around with the street smart Southie native.
Published Jan. 16, 2015
Every January, the Academy wakes the film-obsessed nation bright and early to present its picks for the best movies of the past year. And every year, it's a three-way tie for headlines between the expected, the exciting and the excrement.
Published Jan. 15, 2015
Bright and early this morning, the joint forces of Chris Pine, J.J. Abrams, Alfonso Cuaron and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs prattled off the 2015 Oscar nominees. "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" lead the pack with nine nominations for each - including Best Picture nods for both.
Published Jan. 14, 2015
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's been called a lot of things over his prodigious career. Light and cartoonish, however, would not likely be two of them. Yet here we are with "Inherent Vice," which goes down satisfyingly like a late night pizza on 4/20.
Published Jan. 13, 2015
Stephen Wade has played many roles throughout his life. He's a scholar. He's an author. He's a musician and a performer, bringing banjo and traditional folk music across the nation in one-man shows - including the Rep's upcoming "The Beautiful Music All Around Us." Arguably his most famous role, however, is as a kind of musical detective, uncovering a nation's musical history that's very much alive and very often hiding in plain sight.
Published Jan. 12, 2015
Hollywood insiders and magazines would have you believe 2014 was a miserable year for movies. And from a financial perspective, yes, they're totally correct. From a quality standpoint, however, 2014 was kind of terrific. Movie critic Matt Mueller breaks down the best (and a few of the worst) the year had to offer.