By now, The Walking Dead is a cultural phenomenon. The hit AMC program has been on the air for 11 seasons, and during that time it has solidified itself as one of the biggest things on television. Although the steps that go into creating the show are largely shrouded in secrecy, fans are given small glimpses into the process here and there, which only further bolsters its lore and frankly, the obsession of millions of viewers worldwide.
In the last few seasons of the show, Callan McAuliffe, who plays Alden, has become very familiar with the massive effort it takes to bring the hit program to life. Callan spoke exclusively with Distractify about what it takes to bring The Walking Dead to life and shared some insight into the villainous group in Season 11, The Reapers.
Callan McAuliffe believes that The Reapers bring about "consciousness in the darkness."
Throughout the course of the show, the survivors of the zombie apocalypse have faced several evil groups bent on their destruction. Whether it be The Whisperers, The Saviors, or any ragtag individuals they've met, each has presented a new and scary challenge for Callan and the rest of the crew. According to him, the latest evil group, The Reapers, have certain distinct traits that differentiate them from past enemies.
"I think it’s an exploration of a different human darkness," Callan told Distractify, "and I think that’s always been one of the themes of the show. In The Whisperers, we saw something like a return to Animalia, and now we’re seeing more consciousness in the darkness, which to me is more scary."
Callan is aware of the differences between the comics and the television show they're based on. "I think that any adaptations between mediums are going to undergo changes physically, narratively, so there’s always room for surprise," he said.
Plus, The Reapers are not present in the comics, so the final group of villains that the main cast will face is shrouded in mystery.
But longtime readers of the comic books shouldn't worry. Callan remains confident in the abilities of the show's special effects gurus and writers to consistently deliver what's best and what fans will love.
"The makeup and effects guys on the show do such an extraordinary job," Callan said. He told us that the people working as extras are "given new life" through special effects "that make it just as frightening as if it sprung up out of nowhere."
"That’s one of the things that made it so exciting to be a part of [the show], having that to look forward to each season and just to see what they come up with is a hell of a time," he continued.
Furthermore, Callan talked about those working as extras on the show and recalled how genuinely scared he was the first time he came into contact with one dressed as a walker.
"These poor folks who are in full-body latex and prosthetic whatever it is in the sweltering Georgia sun, and still they manage to completely embody these creatures. I have never been in the presence of anything like that on a film set before," he said.
"There is kind of an involuntary bodily reaction," Callan recalled, highlighting the fear he felt during his early days on the show. "So, it’s real for the brief moment and I remember that feeling. I remember my brain being like, ‘Wait a minute, are we on a set or is this happening?’ We didn’t evolve to see things like this, so I think anything extreme enough elicits a reaction of that kind."
Despite his "involuntary bodily reaction" during his early days on the set, Callan retains a deep level of respect for everyone involved in the project and the hard work they put in to bring the world of The Walking Dead to life.
"These people are so inordinately talented. They’ve been reckoning with this world for so long. I just feel there’s no one more experienced with it, and so there’s no one that I’d better trust to see it through to the end in a way that will satisfy the fans," he said.
Catch new episodes of The Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.