EW: And your last day was also the last day for IronE Singleton, whose T-Dog also died in this episode, right?
CALLIES: Yeah, and that was one of the strangest things about filming it. Before lunch it was all about trying to support my friend and castmate through his last day. So we came back from lunch and I was like, “Oh, crap. Now it’s me!”
EW: I remember Jon Bernthal telling me after his last day, he came the next day and hid off to the side and just watched you guys work. It must be very hard emotionally: On one hand you can try to prepare yourself for it to happen, but at the same time, saying goodbye to that family must not have been easy.
CALLIES: It’s crazy. John left about 4 in the morning and we were all there on set with him. I wrapped at 8 in the evening, and the big difference was we all went to a bar. When somebody leaves the show, you address the crew. Emotionally, we were wiped out. I stood up and talked to the whole crew and thanked them, and then I was like, “Anybody want to go to The Roadhouse?” There’s this amazing steakhouse just right down the road from where we shoot. And we all just went there and said our goodbyes without having to worry about moving equipment around. And the teamsters ended up driving me home that night, bless their hearts.
EW: Now that you’ve seen the episode, what was it like watching that scene?
I shot the episode in June and there was a lot of emotions and intensity around that. I think I was in mourning for 6 to 8 weeks. And then I looped the scene and went into my car and just lost it. But the human heart is built to heal and so I did, and I kept in touch with everyone and saw everyone at the premiere and it was wonderful to touch base and hear how they’re doing. And then I sat down last night to watch the episode. Right as we were about to start it, I felt like a kid with a big scab on her knee and just going, Ahhh, I got to rip it off! It’s gonna bleed and it’s gonna hurt! But that’s part of the healing process.
EW: What will you miss most about working on this show?
CALLIES: The people. Andy Lincoln is one of the finest actors and finest human beings I’ve ever met. And John Bernthal and Jeff DeMunn. In a way, it makes it easier that so may of my great friends went first. The show was never the same to me without Jeff and John. Maybe that’s just my problem. I have a hard time moving on from big losses like that. Because they were so definitive. We were all in the pilot together. They made me a better actor and made me a better person.
And I’ll also miss Lori. Lori Grimes has a fire and a ferocity to her that I have absolutely loved. When we were shooting this last episode, Andy and I were looking at each other through a fence. We didn’t consider it a scene until we were shooting it and we realized it was going to be the last time that Rick and Lori Grimes are ever together. And we both just lost it. We finished the scene and we walked towards each other, met in the middle of the field and just stood there weeping for a little bit. Everyone was amazing and backed off and gave us our space and nobody rushed us out of it. And while I’ll miss Andy, we talk every week and we’ll work together again somewhere, somehow. We’re done with Rick and Lori, though, and that’s the hardest part. I won’t see Rick Grimes again. And he won’t see his wife again. They never even got to say I’m sorry. That breaks my heart. I wanted a better ending for them. Not a better ending like, I wish the writers had written something better. I wanted them to have a happy ending. But of course, they’re didn’t. It’s The Walking Dead. There are no happy endings.
EW: I mean, Lori seemed pretty damn dead. Then again, you’ve mastered the art of dying on a TV show set in a prison and somehow coming back.
CALLIES: Yeah, if there’s a place where dead doesn’t mean gone, it would be here on The Walking Dead, but I don’t know, that would be a feat — even for me.
To read more from Sarah Wayne Callies on what it was like to say goodbye to The Walking Dead, check out the next issue of Entertainment Weekly. And for more Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.