It’s taken some time, but Melissa McBride’s “The Walking Dead” character, Carol Peletier, has turned into — as co-star Laurie Holden put it in a recent interview with AccessHollywood.com — “a little spitfire.”
After spending Season 1 as an abused wife, and the second as a grieving mother, Carol has had a very different journey this time around in the AMC Sunday night series. She survived a prison section zombie attack, got up the courage to flirt with Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and rather recently suggested Andrea give The Governor the best night of his life, before killing him as he slept (Andrea, regretfully couldn’t complete the mission).
All the while, Carol hasn’t strayed from having not only a great love for her gang (like when she tried to support Carl Grimes who was still processing his mom’s death), but an understanding of their actions (like when she rationalized Daryl’s exit from the group to go off with Merle, telling Beth he had his “code”).
If Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) is the conscience of the show, Melissa’s Carol is the heart, and that’s probably one of the reasons plenty of fans are hoping to see her character in a proper romance with Daryl at some point in the series.
“I love the Caryl-ers,” Melissa told AccessHollywood.com, referring to the fans’ name for those dreaming of a Carol-Daryl romance. “I think they’re awesome.”
So, yes, we addressed Carol-Daryl as we chatted with the actress about the AMC drama, but first, Melissa shared with Access her thoughts on the potential war ahead between the prison gang and The Governor’s Woodbury people.
AccessHollywood.com: Last time we saw Rick with the group he told everyone they were going to war. Is Carol the warrior yet? How do you think she felt when Rick dropped that bombshell?
Melissa: She’s a warrior, she’s ready to really fight for her people. She loves her Team Prison (laughs). She loves them and she’s gonna fight. It’s the only thing she has left, you know? And she is going to fight to help save everybody. She’s gonna do what she has to do and it’s unfortunate that he called it war, but the world is so, so strange. It’s surreal to hear these things — ‘We’re going to war.’ When you’re little, you’d never think you’re going to hear these words in a conversation, you never think you’re going to be running around with a gun. Well, she didn’t (laughs). It’s just surreal to go through these changes and accept this is what the world has become and this is who I am becoming.
Access: With war on the agenda, this is really the first time Carol [may have] to stand up physically, other than fighting zombies, of course, against other humans. Did you think about that when you were doing some of this — because she obviously couldn’t stand up to her husband [in her old life]?
Melissa: Her mindset is adapting. This is really survival, it’s not like, ‘I can flee when he’s drunk and asleep and I can get out of here, I can go to a shelter.’ This is — there’s nowhere to go. It’s a whole different thing and she really is finding [out] what she’s made of because of this world that’s forcing her to really pull out all the stops and wake up all the sleeping parts of herself or the diminished parts of herself. They’ve got to come to the surface now and I think, as far as, going to war, I think she’s gonna do what she’s capable of doing and Rick may or may not dictate to her — you know, they don’t have a plan yet. So, they gotta figure this out. What is she good at (laughs)? He told her she was a pretty good shooter, sent her up to the tower. You saw what happened there (laughs).
Access: Of course I’ve got to ask you about Carol-Daryl. What do you think of all the excitement from the Carol-Daryl fans out there who are rooting for these two?
Melissa: I love the Caryl-ers. I think they’re awesome and they’re so passionate and hard core and then you have the other group who’s like, ‘Argh! She’s too old for him. No, he needs somebody hot. He needs a bad a**.’ And I just love that little, ‘To ship or not to ship.’ I think it’s great. And all the fan art is lovely and fun and funny and I get a kick [out of it]. I go on Tumblr. I do.
Access: Laurie Holden told me that she thinks it already is Carol-Daryl. You don’t have to have Carol and Daryl makeout for them to be Carol-Daryl.
Melissa: And I absolutely agree with her and I’m so glad that she said that because I think the same thing and I have thought the same thing… Like, look at it this way, they already are, just by virtue of wanting something like the kiss or whatever… But I think people don’t see it that way ‘til there’s a physical confirmation, if you will. But… they’re friends, they care for one another, they nurture one another, there’s an easement between these two, there’s this beautiful room that they give each other and then they call each other out of it they need to. And so, who knows? Who knows what happened or didn’t happen in those eight months that we didn’t see them. They could have already been there and went, ‘Nah, you know, let’s just be pals’ (laughs), or who knows?
Access: Norman always says, ‘I want to play Daryl like he has no game whatsoever and have her make the first move.’ So if there is physical contact to be made do you think Carol has recovered enough from her own abuse to do that — she obviously said, ‘Do you want to go fool around?’ at one point, but to make that touch or something beyond the 18th century style situation?
Melissa: Yeah, I think so and I think a lot of her playfulness and teasing with Daryl is also a way for her to talk herself more into that path — not just with Daryl, but with herself as a woman, to feel that again about herself, to feel that, ‘I’m someone that’s desirable,’ because for so long she didn’t and whether that’s a conscious thing on her part — and I don’t think that it is — I think it’s just sort of that, again, that thing coming to the surface. She’ll throw those little things out there. It’s almost like when you already have an answer to something, but you keep talking about it to someone because you want to talk yourself into it. You know what I mean?
Access: Well, she was damaged for so long. Her confidence was beaten down for so many years. She probably never had to say the kind of things that she would need to say in order to get that physical contact with Daryl because he’s so damaged.
Melissa: Right and it’s probably — it’s very foreign at that point, coming out of her. Even the feeling that, to have gone through what I am thinking that she went through, what I have given her to have gone through would be — you’re almost asexual at some point. There’s no desire. It’s the last thing on your mind. And yet, she’s a woman and there is nothing like — especially in that world — there’s nothing like physical touch. There’s nothing like being hugged or held or just anything as simple as that.
Access: So you know about Norman’s fantasy spin-off ‘Carol and Daryl in Central Park’?
Melissa: Oh gosh, yeah we made that song. The little song… Yeah, that was fun.
Access: Do you have more than one episode of this fantasy series you guys imagined? Norman told us the first one would involve the squirrels have gone missing and you’re an artist/painter in Central Park and he’s yelling at tourists.
Melissa: If we survive Season 3 — if we ever get together again, we’ll have to revisit that because it’s fun to let our brains go there. We just have so much fun on the set. I hate to say, sometimes we’ll lampoon our own characters (laughs) and come up with these silly things and it’s a great way to work off, to step out of the intense moments. We just get giddy on the set sometimes.
Access: Have you actually acted out ‘Carol and Daryl In Central Park’? Maybe around the craft services table?
Melissa: No (laughs).
Access: You’re creative people. It could happen.
Melissa: Speaking of craft services, here’s a funny little Norman story. There’s a bunch of bananas in a bowl at the craft services little tent and Norman signed all of the bananas. He was wrapped, he was leaving, he probably went over to get something to take away and [thought], ‘I think I’ll sign all these bananas.’ And he just signed all the bananas and left them in the bowl (laughs).
Access: Someone should’ve tanned those. The could have made money on eBay.
Melissa: Yeah. really… Dry the skins. Taxidermy bananas. There you go. Taxidermy bananas.