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In The Mix
October 22, 2014

From Redneck to Resonance

Nothing is certain for The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus but change.

Bruce Fretts
  • Norman Reedus

Sometimes it’s hard to tell where Darryl Dixon ends and Norman Reedus begins. Even for Norman Reedus.

“I’m becoming this weird survivalist out in the woods,” says the actor, calling from the Georgia home he occupies while playing Darryl, the crossbow-wielding good ol’ bad boy of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up in the morning, making acup of coffee and walking out in mybackyard in my tie-dye tighty-whitie underwear with a compound bow and shooting at targets. One day I was out there looking at myself, like, ‘What am I doing?’”

That’s a sight legions of Darryl devotees would love to witness live. “Something weird happens every day,” Reedus says of his frequent fan encounters. “From gifts to scary things — being chased home on the freeway — to kids coming up crying. It’s such a wide variety of experiences.”

Why has the redneck resonated with so many viewers? “This guy came in with a huge chip on his shoulder, a bad past and the worst intents, and through all this loss and all these relationships he’s formed, he’s become someone he can be proud of,” says Reedus, sounding proud himself. “The zombie apocalypse had a reverse effect on him.”

It’s even transformed the previously asexual Darryl into a potential romantic lead — and rumor has it, he might be gay.

“Darryl has not excelled with the ladies or the men before this season,” Reedus says. “He was like, ‘If you hug me, I’m gonna stick a knife in your chest.’ But we need to be true to the story, and when a relationship happens, it happens. I’m open to all of it.”

To hear Reedus tell it, playing Darryl — and relocating from New York City — has had a profound effect on him.

“When I first came down here, I’d go get a cup of coffee and they’d say, ‘How’s your day?’ And I’d be like, ‘C’mon, man, just give me a cup of coffee. I don’t want to make friends,’” recalls Reedus, who was born in Hollywood, Florida, but moved north soon afterward.

“Now I’m the first one who strikes up a conversation. Because of this job, by all accounts, I’ve become a completely chilled-out, better human being.”

Must be those tie-dye tighty-whities.

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