Lighthouse Spotlight: The Walking Dead

I do not write much about television programs because I watch very little TV programming, but every once in a while a series will catch my attention and hook me into seeing it out, like Spartacuson Starz Network. The latter is now in our DVD library (Season One and Season Two, thus far), and although it is quite graphic in the detail of the debauchery of the Roman Empire, it holds true to the life of Romans as well as can be determined from historical texts and archaeological findings. Spartacus, of course, is an interesting character in history whose legend has surpassed the incredible feat of standing up against the unstoppable Roman legions and ultimately defeated from his goal to lead his followers of escaped slaves and ex-gladiators to a land where they can live free through treachery by pirates who were being paid to take them away from Italy. The original actor, Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after completing season one, and died of cancer on September 1th, 2011. Australian actor Liam McIntyre has taken over the role of Spartacus.

The Walking Dead is an AMC TV-series that has boosted ratings on AMC, along with human-interest story of the building of the American railroad across the Wild West after the American Civil War entitled Hell on Wheels. The Walking Dead is a zombie theme, but not a run-of-the-mill or trash like so many zombie films are.

Walking Dead was developed for television by Frank Darabont and the story was based upon a comic book series with the same title by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.
The series stars Andrew Lincoln, an English actor who plays as the principal character Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes who woke up after being in a coma and finds that the world has turned to utter chaos dominated by the dead walking about and hungering for human flesh. To many fans of classic horror films it is based upon the original zombie concept of George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead original zombie film produced in 1968. Since then, zombie films has appeared on film over the years, some quite bad, one a British comical horror film, and several others with quite a long list: Return of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Living Dead, Day of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, et cetera. The zombie films primarily kept to the original by Romero in a post-apocalyptic world where everything is topsy-turvy. A few others, like The 4thReich, is a film about Nazi zombies created by mad Nazi scientists, and the most recent film, I Am Legend starring Will Smith as a surviving doctor who tries to find the cure. Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery takes the zombie theme to a different level, just asRe-Animatorand Resident Evil film and its sequels starring Milla Jovovich.
For the record, most of the long list of zombie films are trash – but out of it there are decent ones and the TV-series The Walking Dead is among them. The horror of the dead walking around eating the living is, of course, the main theme; however the human interest and the reality of what would happen to a group who were trying to survive and find a safe haven away from the world turned into a deadly survival situation – what is to become of the human race?
The series has received good reviews from critics and received several award nominations that includes Writers Guild of America Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Television Series Drama; as well as strong Nielsen ratings that beat records for a cable series that now has about 8.1 million viewers tuning into each episode by Season Two. It is a credit to the series’ writers and acting.

For those who haven’t seen it, The Walking Dead is a story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of an apocalypse situation where people die and return as zombies because of some virus caused by a “breath-through” cancer cure; the details remain obscure. The story begins in the Atlanta metropolitan area and they remain in the state of Georgia looking for a safe haven from the madness of the world it has become. The story focuses upon the individual characters, like real life, each with their own personalities and personal burdens; but all pooling their resources and talents in order to make it. As time goes on, however, the strain of every-day survival and the unknown future of the group takes its toll. They are temporarily detained at a farm, where they find temporary refuge and also deal with conflicts among themselves and the owner of the farm. The group leader, Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff’s deputy before the zombie outbreak occurred is a capable leader with a strong character, trying to hold on to some resemblance of civilization and keep the group safe from the zombie threat and themselves. The writers have inserted as much of real-life situations and conflict between personalities within a group that didn’t know each other before the conflict. Sarah Wayne Callies (Best Actress nomination) portrays Rick’s wife. Laurie Holden (2011 Saturn Award nomination) is a supporting actress; as well as Steven Yeun (Best Supporting Actor, and Noah Emmerich (Best Guest Starring Role).

Part of the writing crew is Robert Kirkman, also the executive producer who was the creator and writer of the original comic book story and the series is directed by Johan Renck. The special effects team is led by makeup designer Gregory Nicotero and adds to the realism and often graphic reality of a world taken over by zombies.
Following the second season premier in October of 2011, a live after-show entitled Talking Dead is hosted by Chris Harwick which discusses the latest episodes with fans, actors, and producers of the show – a behind-the-scenes scenario.
Season One is available in DVD and Blu-ray and a three-disc special edition of the first season is also available. 
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Andrew Lincoln, portrays Rick Grimes. English actor born in 1973 in London, England, attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts when he changed his surname from Clutterbuck to Lincoln. He acted in roles on UK TV, as well as South African and French films. The Walking Dead is the first time he has played a role in an American film. He has been an actor since 1994. He married Gael Anderson in 2006, daughter of musician Ian Anderson of the rock band, Jethro Tull. They have two children – Matilda and Arthur. His role is a sheriff’s deputy who becomes the leader of a small survival group.

Sarah Wayne Callies is an American actress born in 1977, La Grange, Illinois, best known for her role in a TV series called Prison Break. Her role is the wife of Deputy Grimes, Lori Grimes. At the age of one her family moved to Hawaii. She attended several plays at the Punahou School and her parents were professors at the University of Hawaii. She continued her education in acting at the Denver National Conservatory Theater where she earned a Master of Fine arts Degree in 2002. She married Josh Winterhalt, a martial arts teacher in 2005. They have one child, Keala Winterhalt.

Jon Bernthal is an American born in 1976 and raised in Washington, DC, where he graduated from Sidewell Friends School, which upon graduation attended the Skidmore College in New York, and later attended The School of Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow, Russia. He also played professional baseball in the European Professional Baseball Federation. He was discovered by the director of the Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University during a repertory in Massachusetts and was invited to study to earn his master’s degree, which he attained in 2002 from the American Repertory Theatre. He performed off-Broadway and in a CBS sitcom – The Class. He is married to Erin, niece of professional wrestler, Kurt Angleand is the cousin of Adam Schlesinger who performs with the band Fountains of Wayne. He is also the grandson of the late Murray Bernthal. Bernthal portrays Shawn Walsh.
Laurie Holden portrays Andrea, a member of the Walking Dead survival group, was born in Los Angeles in 1969 and has a dual citizenship of US and Canada. She has received awards for Best Actress and nominated for Best Supporting Actress for The Walking Dead. She portrays, in personality, the female counterpart of Shane – but she gets her act together after the death of one of the older members of the group. Laurie is a graduate of UCLA and is best known for her roles as Marita Covarrubiason The X-Files(993) and as Mary Travis in the remake film of The Magnificent Seven (1998). Laurie is single and lives in Los Angeles. She has a dual citizenship because her mother divorced and married director Michael Anderson, spending time between Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada. She won a modeling pageant in Toronto as a teenager. 
Jeffrey DeMunn was born in Buffalo, New York in 1947. He studied in England at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and returned to America to become a member of the National Shakespeare Company. He received Tony Award nominations and plays the part of Dale Horvath. He is a favorite of director Frank Darabont(director of Walking Dead), who cast him in his films: The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Majestic, and The Mist (2007). He has appeared in other films like The Blob (1988) and television shows – Hill Street Blues(1981), Kojak: The Pride of Justice (1987), and Law & Order (1999). He has been married to Ann Sekjaer since 974 and they have two children. He has often appeared in productions of Stephen King. He performed with his son, Kevin DeMunn in 2001 in the film The Majestic, Kevin playing a Western Union Clerk.
Steven Yeun was born in Seoul, South Korea and his family first migrated to Canada and after one year moved to the United States. He began his acting studies at Kalamazoo College in Michigan and he soon realized acting was to be his career, so instead of med school he studied theatre. He currently lives in Los Angeles and is single. He portrays the character Glenn in Walking Dead. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and his interest began as a freshman at Kalamazoo College. His parents were not happy that he changed his mind about medical or law school, but, according to Yeun, they gave him two years to pursue acting. He moved to Chicago and lived with his brother and joined Sir Friday Night, a sketch comedy group composed of Asian-Americans. Yeun joined The Second City in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 2009. His role in Walking Deaddemonstrates that he is good at drama acting just as much as comedy. 
Chandler Riggs portrays Carl Grimes, son of Rick and Lori Grimes who in the film are from the Atlanta, Georgia area – where he was born in 1999. Riggs was cast for the series in June of 2010 just before his 11thbirthday. He still lives in Atlanta, Georgia. This is his third film and first television series. His played on stage as a munchkin in a theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. He likes baseball, swimming, mountain biking and can sing and tap dance. He also likes to snow ski and can portray a southern or British accent. He lives with his parents in Atlanta, Georgia. 
Norman Reedusportrays a red-neck character by the name of Daryl Dixon. In the beginning he has shaky character, mostly established by his renegade druggy brother; but he develops into a better person and an integral part of the survival group. He is valuable because he knows the way of the woods and his favorite weapon against the “walkers” is his crossbow. I like his portrayed character because of his survival skills and common sense – yet, he is caring about members of the group. If the person he portrays seems earthy and street-savvy; it may because of his real-life biography – his rough nature has a hidden talent as an artist. Born in Hollywood, Florida, 1969; he moved months later to Los Angeles, California. He left home at the age of twelve and traveled to England, Spain, and Japan. While in Los Angeles he worked at a Harley Davidson shop in Venice and contributed artwork as a painter, photographer, and sculptor. He got his first discovered at a party in Los Angeles. Acting in several films, he has become best known in his portrayal as Murphy MacManus in the 1998 film The Boondock Saints that became a success and went into a sequel in 2009 – The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. His character was not in the original comic series and was created after his audition for the character of Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead. Norman currently shows his art work in galleries in New York, Berlin, and Frankfurt. He has s son, Mingus Lucien Reedus, with Peruvian/Danish fashion model, Helena Christensen. He lives with his son in New York City. 

IronE Singleton is an American actor born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia. There isn’t much about him and is relatively new in acting industry, but after his performance in Walking Dead, I believe that will change; despite not getting as much appearances in season two as he did in season one. I think he has potential to further his acting career. He previously appeared in Blind Side. There isn’t much about him at Wikipedia; however, he has his own website that gives us a better look at his myriad of talents. He lists: actor, Emcee, comedian, director, lyricist, producer, writer, and video cinematographer as his talents. Growing up in the inner city, he came from hard beginnings – mother died of HIV when he was in high school and his brother spent most of his life in Georgia’s prison system. He was determined to have a different life and continued his education and attended the University of Georgia through football and academic scholarships and completed a double major in Theater and Speech Communications. Singleton had divided his time between Atlanta and Los Angeles with his wife and children. He is a fine example that anyone, by working at it, can rise up out of poverty and make something of oneself.
Melissa Suzanne McBrideportrays Carol Peletier, a victim of an abusive marriage and part of the Walking Dead survival group. She is also known for her great acting in Stephen King‘s The Mist. She is also a commercial casting director in Atlanta, Georgia. She was surprised when she was offered a role in AMC’s The Walking Dead – but Frank Darabont remembered her performance in The Mist and wanted her aboard. Frank knows talent when he sees it. Melissa was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1965. I have no further details about her personal life, at least for now. Once again, very little information at Wikipedia.

Lauren Cohanportrays Maggie Greene, daughter of the farm owner, Hershel Greene. Born in 1982 in Philadelphia and lived during her childhood in Cherry Hill, New Jersey before moving to the United Kingdom. Cohan’s mother converted to Judaism when she married Lauren’s stepfather and Cohan was raised in the Jewish faith from the age of five. Lauren graduated from the University of Winchester where she studied Drama and English literature before touring with a theatre company she co-founded at the University. Lauren then split her time and work between London and Los Angeles, working on several films. She has acted in Casanova(2005) as Sister Beatriceand the role of Charlotte Higginson in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. She is familiar with acting in supernatural films as Bela Talbot in Season 3 of SupernaturalTV series and Rose, a 500-year-old vampire in The Vampire Diaries. She played Vivian Volkoff in the television series Chuck– a “charming, sophisticated socialite” from Somerset, England, daughter of villain, Alexei Volkoff.

Scott Wilson is an American film and television actor born in 1942 in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was 19-years-old, he and a friend hitchhiked from Atlanta to Los Angeles in 1961. His friend returned to Georgia while Wilson enrolled in an acting class to pursue the career he had dreamed of. His first film wasIn the Heat of the Night(1967), starring Sidney Poiter and Rod Steiger as a murder suspect. He then acted in the 1967 film, In Cold Blood, based upon the book by Truman Capote. It earned him an appearance on the cover of Life Magazine. Wilson also appeared in The Great Gatsbyin 1974 opposite Robert Redford. He has a long history of films, among them being Young Guns II, Pearl Harbor, and the Shilohfilm series. He appeared in several episodes of the series CSI: Crime Scene Investigationas Sam Braun, father of crime-scene investigator Catherine Willows (Mary Helgenberger). He portrays Dr. Hershel Greenein the second season of The Walking Dead, owner of a farm where the group is forced to stay because Rick’s son is seriously injured in a hunting accident. His performance, as in the past, is impeccable.
Other actors and actresses are listed at IMDb.
Season One AMC Trailer …