Ending the first half of the season on a high note, Sunday's midseason finale of The Walking Dead was chock-full of thrills, chills, and surprises, including the Daryl/Merle reunion, the confrontation between Michonne and the Governor, and the debut of Tyreese. However, the most unexpected moment had to be the cameo appearance by former co-star Jon Bernthal, reprising his role as Shane in a brief scene.
During the shootout in Woodbury, Rick hallucinates a vision of Shane, whom he killed himself late last season. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Lincoln talked about what it was like to have his former colleague back on the set again, as well as his feelings on Woodbury and Merle Dixon.
Upon his arrival to the Woodbury set, Lincoln felt that something was definitely amiss in this clean, quiet town and dubbed it "Woodbury 90210" along with co-star Norman Reedus. The actor didn't mince words when asked what he thought of the place.
"I hate it there," laughed Lincoln. "I just can't bear it. It's so funny because every time Norman and I have to shoot around there, we just go, 'Ugh, I hate it!' I love the prison. I love the dirt. I love the fact that we never clean up. I don't know, there's just something not right about that place. It was great shooting the hell out of it! We took it to them. There weren't as many of us but we took the battle directly to them."
Noting that Rick and the Governor had yet to meet in person, Lincoln said that he and David Morrissey were staying in character and having some fun with each other by exchanging "derogatory" text messages. He also discussed the changes from the source material related to Merle and Daryl, a pair of original characters created for the television series.
"That's the thing I love about the structure of it, using something completely not from the comic — the two brothers — as the lynchpin, which I thought was a really smart way of connecting these two worlds that nobody would have ever anticipated," Lincoln explained. "And also to have Merle be driven by the same familial instincts was great. It's a great dynamic for Merle because everybody thinks, 'oh, I know what he is.' And then you realize that his motivation is exactly the same as his younger brother's, which is true probably, isn't it? Even if you didn't get on with a relation, you'd still want to find them."
As for the shocking return of Jon Bernthal as Shane via Rick's hallucination, Lincoln was pleased as punch (I can't believe I just typed "pleased as punch") to have his old compatriot back on the set of The Walking Dead.
"Man, it's just always a joy to have him. He's a great, great man and a great talent and I love him," Lincoln gushed. "He's my brother and it was so strange seeing him there — and yet, so familiar. And it was very moving."
At the time the scene was filmed, Bernthal was about to start shooting the Martin Scorsese movie The Wolf of Wall Street, but according to Lincoln, Bernthal claimed that his two seasons on the AMC thriller were still the greatest experience in his career.
"It was weird because Laurie Holden said to him, 'What's it like? You're just living the dream. You get to go work with Scorsese.' And he said, 'This is the dream here. This is the greatest atmosphere I've ever been involved in on any set.' And it's amazing," Lincoln concurred. "Sarah [Wayne Callies] said the same thing as well. It really is this extraordinary family. Only in my job can I keep killing my friend. This is the third time I've killed Jon. Well, it's actually the second time, but I like to think of the other one as a family killing, via my son. Only in this crazy job can I still keep bringing people back from the dead in my imagination — and shoot them again."
I had no idea that Bernthal had filmed a cameo, so this was a very well-kept secret. Were you surprised by the return of Shane?