Interview with Gale Hurd, an Executive Producer of the Walking Dead, by Helena Vann for The Watercooler Journal – Walking Dead Issue (Jan. 15, 2012)
Gale Anne Hurd has made a living bringing iconic characters to life for the big screen- as a producer for the Hulkand executive producer for The Terminator series- and brought us the terror of earthworms when she executive produced Tremors. Her on the small screen has produced a numberl of tv movies and a Terminator series,Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Her interest in the science fiction realm has brought us The Walking Dead.
An Interview with Gale Anne Hurd
1) What is the difference for adapting comics for film and adapting for television?
Television is the ideal medium to tell character driven stories, and allows the writers and producers to delve into season long story and character arcs, from 13 to 22 hours of storytelling. For a feature, you have the challenge to tell a story in about two hours, so every aspect of plot and character must be condensed for the shorter running time.
2) What experiences from bringing comic book characters to life, such as the Hulk and the Punisher have you brought to the Walking Dead?
Aeon Flux was not a comic; it was an anime/animated series on MTV’s Liquid Television. My comic book movies include The Punisher and Hulk films. They were helpful insofar as one must respect the fans of the original, yet recognize that any adaptation for film or TV will ultimately differ from the source material. While fans want adaptations to be fairly faithful to the underlying material, they are also hoping to be surprised with some new plot twists. It is also essential to involve the creators of the comic books and consult with them throughout the adaptation process.
3)The women in the graphic novel and in your own films are strong characters, while the women in this television series seem weak. Is this because of audience expectations for women on television?
Absolutely not – we are following the character development of the women in the comic book. Andrea is already undergoing a change in her character from a civil rights attorney lacking survival skills already found in some of the men (like the deputies Rick and Shane, or the survivalist Daryl) into someone who can take care of herself. Maggie Greene is a farmer’s daughter who can ride horses better than any of the men, and takes out a walker the first time we see her in the series. And one of the most kick ass characters from the comic book is Michonne, a samurai sword wielding woman, who will be introduced in future seasons.
4) How far away from the original material is it “safe” for you to go so you do not alienate the graphic novel fans?
We have introduced brand new characters who have become fan favorites (Daryl and Merle Dixon, among others), and we have killed off characters who survive in the comic (like Sophia) and kept others alive (Shane). The creator of the comic, Robert Kirkman, very much encourages the writers to deviate from the comic book to enhance the storytelling for the medium of television.
5) How did you decide which characters to keep from the graphic novel and which characters to invent, such as Merle? Why and how was Merle’s character created?
The writers discussed what new characters might be encountered by our survivors and the brothers were created by Frank Darabont and then developed during conversations in the writers room.
6) Did AMC give you any restrictions on how to tell the story?