The Walking Dead: Remembering Andy with Jeremy Palko

Andy (Jeremy Palko), Jesus (Tom Payne) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Episode 12Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Andy (Jeremy Palko), Jesus (Tom Payne) and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Episode 12Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

Andy’s journey on The Walking Dead began in season 6, when the the world was suddenly larger, a new threat was emerging and the Ricktatorship was making a strong comeback.

His first impression of Rick Grimes went something like this:

"“The Saviors, they’re scary, but those pricks got nothin’ on you.” – Andy, season 6, episode 12"

By season 7, however, Andy was one of the first volunteers from the Hilltop Colony to join Rick’s allied uprising. Together, they would take the battle to the enemy and lay siege to their strongholds.  At least that was the plan.

Andy had survived a Rick Grimes stare down. He had nearly bested Abraham Ford in a ground battle, only to have his hand broken by Daryl Dixon. He had also famously delivered a severed head to some Saviors in order to rescue a friend.

Andy (Jeremy Palko)Andy (Jeremy Palko) - The Walking Dead/AMC
Andy (Jeremy Palko) in Episode 12Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

When “All Out War” broke out, he was on the field when Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel rallied the alliance.  He was by Morgan’s side as they took the fight to the Saviors one last time. And he stood his ground until the end.

The point being, Andy was a key player on The Walking Dead. A reality that would neatly situate actor, Jeremy Palko among the likes of Andrew Lincoln, Michael Cudlitz, Norman Reedus and Lennie James.  In this Q&A, Jeremy shares some of his remarkable experience, describes the Scott Gimple call (of doom!) and explains why he’s just fine with not reanimating as a walker.

Episode 100

What was it like filming that massive assault on the Saviors’ compound in the first episode? 

"Shooting the massive assault on the Saviors’ compound was a lot of fun. Took about 3 days to shoot and was extremely organized.  We had moving vehicles, tons of extras, walkers attached to fences, and a lot of guns and bullets. There were a lot of moving parts. And as much fun as we have on set, there was a very serious vibe when it came to that scene. We were there to confront Negan, and basically say: “Lets go to war.”It was also the 100th episode which brought a lot of pride to the cast and crew. We had a champagne toast after that scene was wrapped with Greg Nicotero and Andrew Lincoln giving everyone an amazing heartfelt speech. Had to sit back and take in the moment and realize how far this show has come and remind myself of how fortunate enough I was to be there and a part of it."

And what was it like to watch those scenes later when the episode aired? 

"Watching the scene and any scene for that matter is always fun.  You realize, though, you shoot for about a week for maybe one minute of footage. But you also realize the vision that Greg Nicotero and the producers have in the end.[I] was very proud of that moment when Maggie gives the Hilltop community the chance to leave the fight and possibly live. It is clear the Hilltop members, knowing death is a great possibility, have no intention of backing down. It is also a great moment when the leaders of each community (Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel) are seen fighting side by side against the Saviors."

“The Call”

How long before filming your final scenes did you know your fate? 

"I actually got the call from Scott Gimple on the last day of shooting episode 100.  I was in my hotel room when I answered the phone and heard “Hey Jeremy, Scott Gimple here…”  My heart immediately dropped.  It was like I was in elementary school getting called to the principal’s office.  I knew before he even said the words.  Andy was gonna die.The next day on set was a little dreary for me, but I soaked in every moment, enjoyed every conversation, and even snapped a few photos.  It really is a sad day on set and everyone is so caring and loving on that show.  It is almost indescribable.  Any other show it’s, “See ya” and you are off.  With The Walking Dead family, it is like a real family member is leaving and people actually do care that you will no longer be a part of that world anymore."

“The Damned”

“The Damned” was part of an arc that spelled demise for a number of recurring characters. What was the mood like during those final days on set?

"I was actually told Andy was the “First casualty of All out War” which I’m still on the fence if I should be proud of that or ashamed to go first.  All joking aside, I know for Andy it was a good way to go because the outpost in which he dies is the same one he lead Rick’s group to back in season 6 to start the war.On set, we all knew deaths were coming to a good number of characters and were all a little on edge to find out who was next.  Everyone knows that death is pretty much a certainty on the show, so no one was too upset to hear their character would die.  We are all professionals and know it is what needs to happen to advance the story and to keep the audience wanting more, whether it be vengeance for some characters or sacrifices for others.  It’s just what has to happen to make a compelling story."

Were you disappointed that you didn’t get to reanimate into a walker?

"I had never wanted to be a walker because of the amount of time in the makeup chair.  It looked so unpleasant and uncomfortable.  But I have to admit, when I drove away from set for the last time, I wish I had come back as a walker. Who knows, maybe one day I will.  Just somewhere waaaay in the background."

In Good Company

In your final scenes you were teamed up with Lennie James. What was it like getting to work with him this season?

"I was beyond excited to work with Lennie James! I can’t tell you enough how amazing he is, not only as an actor, but as a person.  We had a lot of time to chat during my final days on set which I will never forget…even though a lot of that time I was lying in fake blood. To get to work with him was a real dream come true.  I have been a fan of his work for a long time. Kinda wish we had opened a different door though."

After appearing in three seasons of The Walking Dead, do you have any favorite scenes or moments on set that stand out? 

"There were way too many amazing moments.  I do remember my very first scene when I was toe-to-toe with Andrew Lincoln, with Michael and Norman standing behind me, and just remember thinking: “Wow, I am really here.”One of my favorite scenes was being with the entire cast watching Andrew Lincoln give his speech on the truck in episode 1 of season 8.  It was just great to be there with all of these amazing actors.  And we were all so pumped to be back and ready to kick some Savior ass! But it is more about the people I have met, not only on set, but the fans of the show that really have made this whole experience amazing."

After “Dead”

Will you be appearing at any cons this year? 

"I absolutely love travelling and meeting people at conventions. I have a few planned at the moment, but with this business, plans can change at a moments notice. I try to post on my social media (Twitter and Instagram) every event I have coming up.  At the moment, looks like I will be travelling to places like California, Colorado, and New York this year. Hopefully some other opportunities come along!"

What are you working on in 2018? 

"Hopefully 2018 will bring new opportunities for work.  I recently moved to Atlanta where a lot of projects are filming."

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The Walking Dead returns February 25 on AMC.