'The Walking Dead': The cast and new showrunner react to Frank Darabont's ouster

Image Credit: Greg Nicotero/AMC

Among the people shocked by the news of Frank Darabont being fired as showrunner on The Walking Dead was the man Darabont had brought in as his number two and would now be replacing him: Glen Mazzara. “Something similar happened to me when I was a showrunner on Crash,” says Mazarra, “and I know how painful it is when there’s a change like that made. And I know how hard Frank worked, so emotionally, I felt his pain. I really just felt horrible that he was going through that because I had a similar experience.”

As if taking over the reins from the man who brought him in wasn’t difficult enough, then Mazzara had to meet with a cast fiercely loyal to their former boss. “I met with the cast a day after everything went down, and I met with them privately,” recalls Mazarra. “It was a scary meeting, and I came in and I was honest about my mixed emotions. So, at first it was a lot of confusion and people thought ‘Well, maybe Glen’s responsible’ — that I wanted to take over the show. Once I told them that that was not true and explained to them how I was working with Frank and we were executing his vision of the show, I think they felt comfortable and they saw that I was also in new territory as much as they were.”

The key moment for Mazzara was what happened next when the new showrunner had to then speak to the entire crew for the first time. “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, and 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. It showed how professional they are, how graceful they are, how committed to the work they are, and it was really a huge win, I think, for all of us. I put that on the cast and I am in their debt for that.”

As for the cast, their continued affection for Darabont is clear. “This will always be Frank’s show,” says Jon Bernthal, who plays 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.” Bernthal insists, however, that while the cast is united in their appreciation for Darabont, they are are equally united in their desire to carry on without him. “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.”

“It is a sad situation,” says Steven Yeun, who plays former pizza delivery guy Glenn. “We all absolutely love Frank. And at the end of the day, this show still has Frank written all over it. Frank created it on television, and 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 everyday, three days in a row, screaming, crying, bleeding. That is all we can do, and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”

In the end, many of the cast and crew express not only thanks to Darabont, sadness over his departure, and resolve to carry on, but also hope that they will one day cross paths again soon. “I love Frank,” says Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Lori Grimes. “As a man, as a creator, as a writer, as a friend. I will always be grateful to him for creating Lori and letting me play her, and I hope to work with him again as soon as I possibly can.” It just won’t be on The Walking Dead.

For more about both the on- and off-screen drama surrounding season 2 of The Walking Dead, check out the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. And for more TV news and views, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.


Comments (18 total) Add your comment
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  • Roekest

    Hate to be one of THOSE people, but Darabont didn’t create Lori; she’s character in the comic books. I get what she’s saying tho.

    As a Georgia resident, I thank the cast for putting up with our summers. They suck AND blow.

    • kissyou

      My best friend has just announced her wedding with a great man who is a cele+brity!
      They met-via { himillionaires*c”o’M }
      It is nice club for rich men or pretty girls mate.
      You do not need to be wealthy or famous, but you can meet your true love, it’s worthy a try.

    • Roma

      She meant created the character on the show; yes these characters live in the comix, but creating for another medium means creating a character who reflects the comic book; not easy work. Look at Birds of Prey, Green Lantern and Aquaman for examples of what happens when klutzes are in charge of superheroes.

  • Poppy

    Glad to hear all the love the cast, crew and Glen Mazzara have for Frank, and am happy they credit Frank for the wonderful transformation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead graphic novel to inspired television. Glad to hear they will continue his vision. Can hardly wait for 10/16!

  • Clete

    EW..please stop fooling me with your pictures. I thought these four were the Republican Presidental canidates preparing for their debate.

    • hf

      LOL, I guess the chick in the back does have Bachmann’s stepford wife on crack stare.

    • justme`

      You comment got plagerized by a spammer, you should sue them.

      • Clete

        Noticed that, but I suspect to sue EW would be a waster of time. If you look at a lot of these posts. Spamming occurs all of the time. EW seems to exercise no content control over these posts at all.

  • Jamie

    @Roekest, I agree 100% She needs to give some Credit to Robert Kirkman for creating Lori and all the other major charaters of TWD. And while we are on the Subject I want to know what Mr Kirkman thinks about Frank being gone from the TV show. I know he was very picky about who could be in control of his work. He choose Frank for a reason. I bet money Robert Kirkman is still pissed as I am over the whole deal…. Thanks a lot Joel Stillerman & AMC you guys suck balls !

  • hoganbcmj

    I still wanna know, what the heck happened? Why did he get “fired”?

  • RickGrimesBitc*

    He got fired because of the budget. AMC was trying to cut the budget for the show, and Frank wasn’t having it. I heard about this long before he actually got fired. They butted heads and like the a**holes they are, they probably canned him over it.

    • Laurel

      Unfortunately, Mattew Weiner the Creator of Mad Men sucked AMC dry during his contract negotiations .

      Shortly thereafter Breaking Bad & The Walking Dead got HAMMERED with Budget Cuts.

      • Larry in NoHo

        That is EXACTLY what happened. I like “Mad Men” but it never aired again, then I couldn’t care less. AMC’s brand as a network for creative television has been severely tarnished. No creative will want to work with AMC going forward, except the desperate ones. And chances are that those creatives will also be fired from their own show.

  • PDDB

    I understand the realities of the entertainment business. And it is a shame that cost cutting became as big of an issue as it did on the show – especially after the critical acclaim and the high (for AMC) audience numbers. I would have thought those items would have counted more. I hope they existing writers can keep you the quality from the first season and do not fall into the sophomore season slump.

  • Friday Night Troll

    Let’s see if the cast (the ones still ‘living’ on the show) are still united once contract renewals come around.

  • Roma

    Jaysus. They’re awfully touchy feely for a zombie action show. Glad to see all feathers were smoothed and fussy tummies quieted with plenty of ginger ale and crackers. Now shut the frak up and go make us up some more of that there zombie show, dammit.

  • P

    This whole “the cast told me they wanted to stand behind me before addressing the crew” has the stink of “Support Mazarra or else you get killed off- which would be really easy in a zombie show”

  • juicycoutureoutlet

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