When Frank Darabont was fired from his post as the beating heart (and Big Boss) of AMC's zombie hit, it took everyone by surprise, from the fans to the people behind the scenes. Now the cast and the new executive producer reveal how it all went down and how they got their groove back.
The news that Darabont was shown the door of the franchise that he, in great part, helped make a critical and ratings hit sent shockwaves through the Geek Nation. But it was more than simply news to the cast—it was a shaking of the very firmament of their lives. And yet, no matter whose name is in the credits, The Walking Dead will always have Darabont's DNA. At least, according to Jon Berenthal, who plays the philandering former deputy, Shane:
"This is Frank's creation, Frank is the heart and soul, and as far as I'm concerned he always will be. That might piss some people off to hear, but Frank is all over this second season ... Look, I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't a very tough, jarring thing for us to go through. I love Frank. He is one of the best creative minds that I've ever had the pleasure to work with. He's one of my heroes and I miss the hell out of him. That being said, this cast and this crew loves the heck out of each other, we love the heck out of this show, and nothing was going to slow us down or keep our eyes off the prize."
Steven Yeun, who plays the scrappy Glenn, chimed in:
"I think what it did do was make all of us as a cast come together and realize we got to carry on this vision, and we're going to do it to the best of our abilities. We are dying for this show. People are working out in the 100 degree weather every day, three days in a row, screaming, crying, bleeding. That is all we can do, and that's what we're aiming to do."
Glen Mazzara, who took over for Darabont as the Walking Dead showrunner, recalls the moment when—after he told the cast what had happened—he knew that the show would be okay:
"I had to go out and address the crew and the cast said to me, 'Don't go until we can be there with you. We want to stand behind you.' And that was really a beautiful moment because they didn't have to do that; I had only met them face-to-face a few times. Some of them I had never met. So here I was standing before a crew trying to say that we'll get through this crisis, and the cast rallied around me and that really meant a lot to me. I think it meant a lot to the crew."
And, when Oct. 16 rolls around, we'll see if they kept the faith.