Melissa McBride Talks Carol's Evolution in 'The Walking Dead'
Melissa McBride's role on The Walking Dead has seen plenty of ups and downs, and Carol is probably the most evolved of all the characters in terms of forward (and backward) momentum. Where she started as a timid housewife and abuse victim, she became an independent, powerful and unstoppable woman in the post apocalyptic landscape.
Last season though, she didn't revert so much as have a crisis of conscience, and in one particular episode when taken prisoner, the character starts to show some cracks. “For that episode the script came pretty much as usual for the schedule we have, a week and half before we start. I thought it was just such a great script, it fascinated me.
“I was fascinated with the predicament they were in and Carol’s reaction. The hyperventilating — the question of where does [her] true reaction begin and where does the ruse start? It was a challenge to figure out how to play it."
On the character's evolution, “[Carol] has evolved to where she is because of all the experiences the writers have given her. I’ve grown with her. I don’t think specifically, ‘this happened to her and then this happened to her’ [in the past] — just like we approach our own day, I know where I am. There are some key things that I keep really close, one of those is [Carol’s daughter] Sophia, the memory of her, the children. There are very specific trigger points that I bring along that are never far.
“That’s what I like about the writing, everything is there. That’s indicative of good writing for an actor, you don’t have to scramble to know what the character is thinking or talking about, it’s just there, under the surface those little reminders. I remember saying that line out loud, ‘My faith got me through the death of my daughter.’ I was thinking, ‘No, that’s when you lost it.’ What that means to her, to know that she fell away, and feeling like she needs it now. All of this is playing into where does the ruse end and where does the truth, panic, anxiety and guilt begin?
“I’m grateful that people find her inspiring or they relate to her from season one and see how much she’s changed and become stronger. I look at her, I don’t feel badass when I’m playing her. I don’t feel like she feels like a badass. These are all just heat of the moment decisions. She’s not a puffer, she’s not puffing out. She’s just like, ‘Oh god what I am gonna do? I got an idea, I’ll do this.’ She’s just Carol to me, I just love it. I root for her, I adore her because of that.”
Some complained about Carol's rapid deterioration, and for good reason, and it certainly felt as though the writers were too intent on the idea that they gave the execution less care than it needed.