Jackson Lee Davis/AMC (NEW YORK) — Greg Nicotero knows a thing or two about outbreaks. The executive producer's been involved on The Walking Dead even before the now-11-year-old AMC show debuted. But even he's been surprised by how people are reacting to a real-life outbreak: the COVID-19 pandemic.
The post-apocalyptic TWD show began with a shot of Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, riding a horse on an abandoned Atlanta highway — and recently, a fan tweeted a shot of the same highway, which was emptied not via computer effects, but by shutdowns from the virus. The echoes aren't lost on Nicotero.
"It is strange. Because part of me feels like I've lived in this world for 10 years," he tells ABC Audio. "You shouldn't go outside….You got to be careful not to infect people….But what's really funny about it is no matter what people imagine this kind of situation would play out. You never think about like, oh, well, everybody just stayed at home and cooked food."
He adds, "You don't have to board your windows up. You don't have to worry about some monsters breaking into your house."
As for TWD's fictional apocalypse, Nicotero says there's one thing fans noticed that hasn't come to pass: "Somebody wrote me and said, 'Hey, how come there wasn't Walking Dead episode about people hoarding toilet paper?'…You would never even imagine that…people would run out and get into fistfights at stores about toilet paper!"
He adds with a laugh, "I guarantee you there's probably going to be something in season eleven, they'll just walk by a road and a stack of toilet paper like: 'Meh.'"
Nicotero began working on The Walking Dead even before he became its head make-up artist, and rose through the ranks. He explains what it's been like to be a part of the show for this long: "It's like raising a baby, you know. I mean, I haven't almost an 11-year-old Walking Dead baby. And as babies grow and they change and they evolve and you have amazing great days and you have hard days. And the bottom line is you'll still do anything for it."
He added, "I still love it. I love the people. I still feel like there's some great stories to tell. And, you know, I read the outline for Episode 1 of season eleven two days ago. It's insane. We've never rested on our laurels on The Walking Dead, that's for sure. No one can ever be like all these guys are phoning it in because we never do."
The Walking Dead just wrapped its 10th season early, with work on the season finale suspended because of the pandemic.
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