The Walking Dead officially begins production for season 6 this Monday, May 4th (Yay!) and as that date approaches, I can’t help but think back to that intense season finale and those we lost. I think viewers didn’t shed too many tears for Pete Anderson, but the death of Reg Monroe saddened me and very much so. I have always found a closeness to the characters who emerge as the moral compass of the show, such as Dale Horvath, Hershel Greene, and then in season 5, Reg Monroe. But, as is typical for this series, your character becoming the voice of reason is almost always your death knell, and unfortunately, this pattern continued with Reg.
Last week, I was fortunate enough to talk to the immensely talented Steve Coulter about his character, the filming of season 5, and some interesting “what ifs” had the writers decided to diverge from the comic book source material. Before delving into the interview, I want to say that interviewing Steve was such a delight. Some actors turn out to be the complete opposite of the characters they portray, but to my surprise, Steve appears to be very much like his onscreen counterpart. Like Reg, Steve is kind, well-spoken, articulate, wise and just seems like an all-around nice guy. I don’t think the casting for the Reg Monroe character could have been more perfect.
Speaking of casting, Steve knew very little, and fact nothing at all, at the time when he auditioned for the role. He laughs as he explains how much they kept him in the dark about his character, “[I knew] nothing. You may have heard that they disguise the scenes. In an audition, when you think the hundreds of agencies and hundreds of actors applying for a role and with the Internet, they don’t want story lines to get leaked. So, the scenes were disguised. Mine was a cocktail party, and they had it that I was the husband of a famous author, I guess kind of like an author’s book party, and I was talking with someone who had done a lot of pep talks. It’s actually kind of like a version of that scene in the show with the dinner party. So, I really didn’t know until I had gotten the part. Now, one thing they did say before they could cast me was they needed to be sure I was a match for the woman playing my wife. But, I still didn’t have any idea, about Alexandria or any of that. It was all a big surprise, especially when I found out it was going to be recurring and over several episodes.”
Being a fan of the Walking Dead comics and given Steve’s above description, I personally would have thought of the comic-book Douglas Monroe. But, as we know, they gender-swapped that character with Deanna Monroe, which would have made Steve’s character a female version of Regina. I asked Steve if he dived into the comics after being cast, to try and glean anything about the Reg Monroe character and his fate, and to my surprise he did not. “I had not [read the comics], at least not until after I had gotten the role. I did do some research, but I didn’t read ahead. And, if I had, I might have known because in the comics, it’s Regina who is Douglas Monroe’s wife and who meets a similar end. And, I didn’t want to read ahead because as a fan of the show, I didn’t want to know what was going to happen. Then, I got a call, a message from Scott Gimple, the showrunner, that said he wanted to talk [to me] about what’s coming up in the finale. Then, I thought, ‘Oh, no, here it comes.’ [Laughs]”
Steve got the dreaded “death” call from Gimple right after his 2nd episode had been filmed, and he admits that initially he was disappointed. But, then, Gimple went on to say that while Reg does die, he goes out in a really cool way and in the final climatic scene of the season finale. And, what an intense scene that was, one that fans won’t be forgetting anytime soon. While the Reg death scene on the surface appeared relatively simple compared to ones involving walkers, tons of costume make-up and so forth, it still was not trivial to film as Steve explained. “We shot the scene outside, at kind of a council meeting, where Deanna is speaking and people were getting up and testifying. We shot it over 2 nights and 2 of the coldest nights that Atlanta has ever had in a long time. Pretty much all night long, at least pretty close. The death scene was one of the very last scenes they shot, and they kind of shot it a little bit backwards. They shot once I had fallen down into Deanna’s arms first, and it was a different kind of blood. The initial kind of blood was just gushing out and pouring all over me. [Laughs] They had a prosthetic gash in my throat, which you can’t really see, but it looked like my head was almost cut off. They inserted a tube up through my pant leg, up to my throat and coming through this piece of latex prosthetic. Very cold. They tried to heat the blood, and it was like 20 degrees outside. Then, after that we shot when Pete slashes me, and for that, they had another tube go up my pant leg and attached to a motorized pump so that when [Pete] slashed it, it would shoot blood out, like spray it out. It was a lot of fun, and it was messy. Of course, for about 4 hours, I was walking around drenched in blood. They take a break and go get a cup of coffee with some friends in the waiting area, and you’re just sitting there drenched in blood. And, you forget, and then people look at you like ‘Oh my God!’ [Laughs]”
One of the big things I had been wondering ever since the Deanna and Reg Monroe characters had been introduced is whether the writers would follow the comic-book storyline or whether they would diverge, much like they had by making the leader of Alexandria a woman. As it turned out, of course, they decided to stick to the basic plot with Reg being killed by Pete Anderson in much the same way as his comic counterpart, Regina, is in the comic book series. Even still, the question remains of what would have happened if Deanna had met her end instead of Reg. Good question, and Steve had an interesting take on that. “If Deanna had been killed, I don’t think Reg would want Pete to be killed. He would have said, ‘No, don’t kill him. It was an accident.’ He’s probably one of the most level-headed characters. One thing that was fun about him is there’s no hidden agenda. Scott Gimple even said he’s just a good guy, he’s wise, he’s kind, and so, of course he has to die. [Laughs]”
And if it did go down that way, what about the leadership of Alexandria? Could Reg have stepped into Deanna’s shows and make a good leader? I personally think so, and so does Steve. “Yes I do. I think he would have depended on Rick a little more. But, he’s a really good leader, he built the wall, and there’s such a calm to him. And, he’s always liked Rick, and in the scene with Maggie, he trusts him. But, yeah, I do think he would have kept leading, and I also think Rick trusted him too. When I had my first scene with Rick, as an actor my job was to calm him down, to make him feel safe. [Rick] had this mistrust in his eyes, and I remember before the scene thinking my job is to change that look in his eyes. That’s why Reg is very soft-spoken, the kind of leader that doesn’t push his leadership. And, Andy was great and really fun to work with. Some actors just learn their lines and give their performance but [Andy ] was very sensitive and kind actor.”
I’m one of these people who are constantly looking at the details in a show, hidden symbols and what they may mean. For example, the use of Michonne’s sword as the murder weapon. In the comics, Pete didn’t use Michonne’s sword and instead, just grabbed the closest thing he could find, which happened to be a kitchen knife. Why did the writers change that? What was the significance? Steve, too, agreed that the sword was very important. “Yeah, I think so. That sword has had a lot of symbolism on that show. And, especially with her, when they come back for that final brief scene when she puts the sword back on. The fact that the sword had been used for something bad. And, I think by her reclaiming it, it sets things back on track again. They are very creative in terms of why not put a little more meaning to it. The fact that she didn’t have that sword and that it was used for something very bad. Of course, if they just used a kitchen knife, it would have just been a savage act, which it already was, but now it had a little more meaning by her reclaiming it.”
Perhaps another significance of the sword is the fact that Reg’s death wasn’t the 1st time the sword had been used to kill a survivor. Remember the Governor in season 4? Yeah, the Governor took that sword and used it to decapitate Hershel, which is also quite interesting since Hershel is very much like Reg. While Rick’s group was at the prison, Hershel served as the voice of reason and the moral compass. Now at Alexandria, Reg took over that role. I asked Steve about this and whether he thought there was a connection. It was pretty funny because Steve had forgotten about that scene with Hershel, but once he remembered, he did agree. “Oh, my gosh, that’s right! I forgot about that. Yeah I do, and I think they are both cut from the same cloth. Hershel is another one of those characters that you could really trust, and in their world, there are so few. So many people are terrified and do either good things or horrible things out of fear. And, I think Hershel and Reg weren’t. They had been through a lot and through a lot of loss, but they just keep a clear head. I think characters like that are important, to have little islands of peace in the show — but of course, they have to die. [Laughs] “
Even though Reg was in only 4 episodes, he will go down as one of those characters you’ll always remember, at least for me. The Dale’s, the Hershel’s, the Reg’s, these are characters you’ll never forget because they are one of the few reminders left of humanity in a world that has very compassion, empathy and wisdom left. The same is true for Steve. He may have been on the show for a short time, but he will always have fond memories of the experience and ones that he’ll always treasure. “It sounds corny, but it’s the kind of job where you can’t wait to get to work. It was like on Christmas morning. I did love doing the scene with Noah. We shot that very early in the morning. We got there in the dark and waited for the sun to come up. It was such a quiet scene, and there’s not that many quiet scenes in this show. [Laughs] And, when I got that script, I remember reading that scene and thinking ‘Oh this is great’ with this relationship between him and Noah, and then, I read the rest of the script and was like, ‘Oh no!’ Yeah, that was tough. I also loved working with Andrew Lincoln in that first scene, and that was a lot of fun.”
The good news is that while Reg Monroe may be gone, Steve had watched the show before he had been cast and will continue to watch going into season 6. He’s very active with the Walking Dead fandom on Twitter and would love to live-tweet along with fans once the new season is underway. You can find Steve on Twitter at coulter28@Twitter.
You can also check out some of the other projects Steve has been working on. I can tell you this is one busy guy. You can find him on Cinemax’s Banshee, where he plays an Amish character who speaks Pennsylvanian Dutch that Steve describes as “a very strange language.” He’s also part of the Insidious film franchise, with the 3rd installment coming out in June which Steve is in. And, he has been cast in a lead role in the upcoming Bruce Willis film, Extraction, which sounds pretty damn good. “I play the boss, a CIA Director and incredibly foul-mouthed. [Laughs]. Everything just is going crazy, he’s gotten kidnapped, his son is trying to find him, and everyone is breaking all these rules and trying to hold down the fort. He uses the ‘F’ word more than any character has in recent memory. [Laughs] And, I actually kind of was able to improvise and said, ‘Can I find a new way of saying that?’ [Laughs]”
This guy is incredibly talented and has played such a widely diverse array of roles. Just to give you an idea, check out the below picture preview of the different faces of Steve Coulter.
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com