The tragic death of stuntman John Bernecker on the set of The Walking Dead on July 13th sent shockwaves through the industry and today at TCA, Executive Produer Robert Kirkman addressed what happened. When asked by reporters if storylines would be changed in light of the tragedy, he said, “No storylines were changed, you know, that was a tragic accident. It wasn’t story related, it was just a freak accident that happened on set and it’s something that we’re dealing with, but it hasn’t affected the storyline in any way.”
Clearly not wanting to go into too much detail, Kirkman added simply that everyone on set was “dealing with it. It’s a tragedy, so it’s something that everyone is dealing with in their own way, and it’s something that will continue to stick with us for years to come.”
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In opening the AMC panel discussions earlier the same day, President of AMC Charlie Collier told assembled press, “I want to take a moment to address the fact that today we’re no longer able to present our panel with executive producers of The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, today is the funeral for stuntman John Bernecker and Scott Gimple and others are there. Of course our hearts and our thoughts continue to go out to John’s family and friends.”
While Kirkman said he didn’t know at this point yet whether there would be a dedication to Bernecker’s memory on the show, he did talk about other aspects of what viewers might see going forward. “It’s a little early, but we all know it’s the all-out war story. So in Season 8 we’re trying to do a more fast-paced season, a more action-packed season, really focusing on momentum, and we feel like over the first seven seasons we kind of set all of the characters into place, and now it’s time to break them to a certain extent.”
When asked what the flash forward sequence meant at the close of last season, Kirkman said, “Scott Gimple will give me very harsh words if I were to comment on that in any way, but you’re supposed to be talking about that, and that is an intriguing tidbit that we did throw out there on purpose. We’re hoping that people continue to question how that fits into the storyline and what it is. Comic book fans know where a scene that kind of looked like that would fall, but it also doesn’t seem like we would be getting to that just yet. You’ll just have to see.”
In terms of keeping the fans engaged, Kirkman was confident. “One of the things that really keeps The Walking Dead going is that every season feels like a different show and as we start to show more promotional material and you guys get to see episodes you’ll see this is another continuation of that, this is a very fresh take on the world of The Walking Dead and we’re going to be breaking a lot of new ground this season.”
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