The Walking Dead celebrates 10 years of TV history on October 31, 2020. In celebration of this historic milestone, we I nterviewed several actors who have participated in the show over the years. These interviews started to be published in early September and run until the end of October, are being launched daily. When we will end with a big surprise that we prepared exclusively and with great affection for the fans.
Our guest today is Emma Bell, who played Amy during season 1. The actress told us about her pregnancy, about the happy times she had during her participation in The Walking Dead, about working with Laurie Holden (Andrea), about shooting Amy’s death scene, about representativeness in movies and series, about her work as a director and much more.
Without further ado, check out our exclusive interview with Emma Bell:
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! You’re incredibly beautiful and I’m sure you’re going to be an amazing mother. It’s your first kid, right? How do you feel and how excited are you about this new stage of your life?
Emma Bell: This is our first kid! We are over the moon. I’ve always wanted to be a mom so getting pregnant was a very welcome event for me, but once you live through the process of pregnancy you realize it’s this incredibly wonderful and terrifying transformation in your life. The idea of being ‘mother’ and what that means for the rest of my days is astounding. It’s a part of my life I am so proud to be entering but also, frankly, I am grieving leaving behind my life before.
It’s an honour for us to talk to you in such a special moment for The Walking Dead. It’s not just any show that get to its 10th anniversary. Can you start by telling us how was the audition for the show? How did you hear about the part?
Emma Bell: The audition was kind of like any other except the name of the character was kept under wraps. I have to admit I had never read the comics before the audition so I didn’t have the faintest idea what ‘The Walking Dead’ was or how important it was to people. I remember telling a girlfriend I had booked it over lunch and she spit her food out because she was such a big fan of the comics!
The Walking Dead and our website are turning 10 this year, as we started together in 2010. Did you think the show would be so successful? Being part of it, even if just the first season, gave you new opportunities? How do you see the impact of The Walking Dead in your personal and professional life?
Emma Bell: Wow! Congrats to you! That’s fantastic. None of us could really foresee how massive the show would become during that first season. It was a very small show when we shot it, which was great because we got to be there, doing our thing without a lot of pressure. I did have an inkling it might be big but mostly because I had been a huge LOST fan and that show had just ended. I knew audiences needed to fill that void, plus TWD would get the horror community. I guess I was right!
TWD has been an incredibly massive part of my career and life. I still receive fan mail from avid fans of the show and I get a chance to go to conventions all over the globe thanks to the show. It is one of my most cherished career experiences.
Amy had the same fate as his comic’s counterpart, being bit by a walker in the same spot. Did you read the comics to know more about the character or did you keep it on the scripts? And you, as a fan, would rather see the story being told exactly the same way as in the comics or do you like to see some new stories mixed in?
Emma Bell: The show sent us the comics, luckily, so I did see she died in the first season. At the time Frank Darabont was our fearless leader and he really wanted to stick true to the original storyline. As a fan of books, I am a purest when I see them interpreted into film. So mostly I prefer things be told as true to the original content as possible. Of course with ten seasons to come up with, I imagine you have to get creative!
Talking a bit more about your character’s death: what memories do you have of shooting that scene? What about Amy’s return as a walker? How did you prepare for it?
Emma Bell: Oh man, I remember almost the entire minute by minute experience. It was so surreal. I truly did not want to leave that show so it was extra emotional for me. The death sequence was in two parts really- getting bit and then coming back as a zombie and being shot. For the bite sequence, it rode on the coattails of this really beautiful and peaceful scene around the fire. We had almost every character there and it was one of those rare Walking Dead moments of peace and unity. Shooting that scene was such a delight and I knew it was one of my last times around this extraordinary group of people. When we moved on to the zombie attack part of the sequence it was jarring. They had set up the whole camp to be in mayhem. Being in it was incredible because it was one of the biggest scenes I’d been a part of, complete with 10 or so zombies attacking people, fires going off, gunshots, and of course being attacked myself.
Greg Nicotero was the zombie that bit me! We decided on that because he was like a father figure to me and didn’t want to risk someone else biting into my neck prosthetic incorrectly. It was a really sweet gesture despite that fact that he was my ‘murderer’ ha ha. Greg and I also talked at length about coming back as a zombie and how we wanted to portray that. We knew Amy’s death needed to pack an emotional punch so we decided to watch her slowly change almost baby doe like from Amy to zombie. I think it’s a beautiful scene and still makes me tear up.
We have a very special place in our hearts for Laurie Holden and we already spoke to her a few times during the last 10 years. How was it to work with her? Do you still keep in touch?
Emma Bell: Laurie is a special woman isn’t she? We got really close shooting because it was very important to us both that the sister bond be felt. We actually have the same birthday! Working with her was a pleasure, she taught me a lot about the craft and how to be on set. We aren’t as close these days but we do stay in touch and send each other birthday wishes every year!
Looking back at your time on the show, which one would you say was the most fun episode to shoot? What about the most challenging? Why?
Emma Bell: There were so many fun scenes! Outside of the big death scene I’d say the fishing scene was my favorite to shoot. Laurie and I worked together a lot to create that special connection.
It was also beautiful to be inside of. We shot out on a quarry and I remember the water was aqua blue. Because we were so far from the crew and set it was really peaceful and felt like Laurie and I were actually sisters having this very eye opening conversation.
Do you remember your first day on the set? What about your last one? We’d love if you could share some details of your reception and farewell on the show!
Emma Bell: I don’t know if it was my actual first day on set but I remember the first time there was a large group of zombies on set. In the lunch tent that day the tables were very split: series actors and crew on one side and zombies on the other. I remember they had roast chicken that day for lunch and as I walked by the tables with the zombies I turned to them and said ‘hello’. Without skipping a beat, they turned to me slowly, dropped their chicken bones and started getting up as if to eat me. It was actually very scary! To their credit those zombie actors NEVER broke character. It was really impressive!
My last day was the day Laurie shot my character in the head after reawakening as a zombie. I just remember tears streaming down my face as I looked out at everyone through zombie contacts and heard the 1st AD call a series wrap on my character. Everyone group hugged me. It was really heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
If Amy had survived longer on the show, with which characters would you like her to interact with? Is there any actor you’d like to have worked with more closely during your time on the show?
Emma Bell: I think she would have joined the Daryl, Carol duo. Carol would have become a second mother figure to Amy and I think Amy would quickly learn she’d have to toughen up in order to survive. I would have loved to see Daryl teach her his naturalist ways.
The Walking Dead always had empowered female characters and Amy was one of them. How was it for you to act as such a powerful woman? How important do you think this is for other women?
Emma Bell: Thank you! I agree! What I loved about Amy was that she was an eternal optimist and had kept her inner love of humanity despite everything that was happening around her. To me that is a power.
TWD has always represented women as the dynamic people that we are because women are no one thing just like men. I love that this show revealed flawed women and powerful women as much as other shows portray ‘perfect’ women. I think this is incredibly important not just for women to see onscreen but for men too! Needing a broader range of representation in our culture is finally a very loud message and Hollywood is the platform to create the myths. So it’s imperative that women, minorities, the LGBTQ community and any other group that isn’t traditionally represented in our mainstream culture be full characters just like we are in life!
Even after her death, Amy came back to haunt Rick in a special appearance during the third season and we were really happy to have you back – even if just your voice. How was it to come back? Did you go to the set or did you just record the audio remotely? How did you get the invitation?
Emma Bell: Oh man, when I received the email I jumped for joy! I was hoping it might be a reoccurring thing and I immediately thought I’d be flying out to Atlanta to see everyone. Of course they just needed my voice so it was recorded here in LA, and I learned it was just the one episode. Any chance to be a part of the show is a gift however so I count myself really lucky.
Besides acting, you’ve been dedicating your time writing and directingsome short films in the last couple of years, right? Can you talk about how it started? How has this adventure been so far?
Emma Bell: Thank you for asking! Yes I have added those things to my career mostly because when I hit 30 years old the kinds of roles I went in for all became very disappointing. A lot of secondary cliché female roles and the amount of auditions went down as well. I realized there just isn’t a lot of representation for women in their thirties and certainly not a lot of interesting roles. I wanted to change that so I started writing and directing stories I’d want to see as a woman. It’s been incredibly fulfilling but also I’ve opened up a whole new way to be rejected! Ha ha.
In the past few years, some actors from The Walking Dead Universe have been sitting on the director’s chair for some episodes of the main show and spin-offs, and this is wonderful. Is there any chance we see you back on the show directing an episode? AMC needs to make it happen!
Emma Bell: I would LOVE that! Tell AMC to give my people a call!
We know the pandemic postponed a lot of projects and The Walking Dead fans are still suffering for the season finale. How did it affect you? Were any of your projects postponed? How have you been taking care of yourself?
Emma Bell: Yes well I am actually in development on my first feature film as a director and writer and before covid we were pushing full steam ahead with finding funding etc. Of course when the pandemic hit that was all halted temporarily. We are back at it but the future of independent film is very up on the air because of the new costs associated with keeping a set safe from infection. We’ll make it happen obviously but there are a few more hurdles to jump over now. My directing website if any of my fans want to check it out is www.emmabellfilm.com
Personally it’s been a great year to be pregnant and unable to work it turns out! There are some very isolating aspects of being so locked down during pregnancy but as far as not being available for jobs it is kind of the perfect year since not a lot of new things are shooting.
To wrap it up: here in Brazil we are particularly fond of The Walking Dead and all of its cast and crew, past and present. Brazilian fans are very passionate! Does this love get to you somehow, through conventions or social networks? Can you send a message to your Brazilian fans?
Emma Bell: It certainly does!! I receive so much love from my Brazilian fans on social media and through fan mail. It always warms my heart! My message is just- THANK you for always being so supportive and I love you! One day I hope to be able to come to Brazil and meet you face to face!