AMC's The Walking Dead has become one of television's hottest properties — but not without a lot of blood, sweat and zombie tears along the way. In the new issue of Rolling Stone featuring Andrew Lincoln as sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes on the cover, David Peisner dives into the murky backwoods of Georgia for an all-access look at what makes the show tick, how the stars interact, why the series almost never aired, and much more. Here's five behind-the-scenes tidbits we uncovered:
1. Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) has serious stalkers.
"I've been followed home over half a dozen times," he says. "I've had somebody break into my backyard."
2. Creator Robert Kirman doesn't think The Walking Dead is depressing.
"A lot of people think the show is bleak and depressing, but I can see where it's going in the next 10 years, and I think about it optimistically. Maybe it's going to make us better people by the end of it."
3. You never got to see how Atlanta was overrun with walkers — but you were supposed to.
"It was going to be like Black Hawk Down, following an Army Ranger unit as the city succumbs to the zombie plague," production designer Gregory Melton tells us. "That was thrown out due to cost."
4. Executive producer/special effects master Greg Nicotero has a zombie plan.
"As the show progresses, the zombies are decaying more and more," he says. "We always do the rotted-away lips because I've done research in terms of cadavers and corpses, and when the skin tightens, it pulls away."
5. When Jon Bernthal (Shane) was killed off in season two, everyone cried.
"At the end of the night, the entire cast just held each other," he says. "I ain't gonna bullshit you, I was crying my eyes out. I told them, 'Say strong. Keep squeezing all the bullshit out of this thing."
Look for the issue on stands and in the iTunes App Store this Friday, October 11th.