Norman Reedus on Daryl’s evolution over 9 seasons of ‘The Walking Dead’: ‘He’s still filthy’

“He’s still filthy.” That’s how actor Norman Reedus described his character Daryl’s evolution over nine seasons of AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama “The Walking Dead.” Following Sunday’s mid-season premiere “Adaptation” (read our recap here), Reedus was interviewed by “Talking Dead” host Chris Hardwick about how Daryl has grown as a character since the show’s debut back in 2010. Co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan, chimed in to defend Daryl’s manly musk, saying, “He smells delightful!”

After the apparent death of Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Reedus knew that Daryl had to step up and be a leader for the remaining survivors. “The biggest difference I think is he’s trying to find himself within this group,” Reedus explained. “But there’s this whole Whisperer thing that’s happening and Carol [Melissa McBride] has asked him to do something which has brought him into the middle of this group. He doesn’t want to get a spanking from Carol, so he’s trying to play nice.”

Reedus recalled that after Lincoln left the show to begin starring in a spinoff series of TV films, “The first thing I did was called [showrunner Angela Kang] and I was like, Daryl’s not the kind of guy who’s gonna build a soapbox and get up and speak to a room full of people and give them some inspirational speech. But now he’s kind of found himself … having to step up and sort of take leadership roles, which I think he’s a bit reluctant.”

During the mid-season premiere, Daryl was part of the group that brought Jesus’ (Tom Payne) dead body back to Hilltop to be buried. Along the way they came across several blood-thirsty humans who were hiding out amongst the dead. Daryl exposed one of them, a teenage girl named Lydia (Cassady McClincy), and began interrogating her. When the girl’s stories seemed inconsistent, Daryl threatened to kill her, but that’s when Henry (Matt Lintz) in the adjacent cell shouted for him to spare her life.

One thing that Lydia did seem to be telling the truth about was her mother, who originally came up with the idea to walk around in the skin of walkers. At the end of the episode, Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Luke (Dan Fogler) possibly came into contact with Lydia’s mother (Samantha Morton) when she rasped at them, “Trail ends here.” How will Daryl react to the show’s newest villainess? Find out as “The Walking Dead” Season 9 continues airing Sundays on AMC.

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