Life on the set of “The Walking Dead” isn’t exactly glamorous — after all, the cast and crew spend grueling hours in the Georgia heat and humidity surrounded by extras dressed like rotting corpses.
Yeun plays Glenn, one of a handful of survivors of a zombie-pocalypse and pretty much the go-to guy for tight spots and jobs no one else wants. Jobs like hooking a zombie with a massive fish-hook.
But life isn’t all close calls and rotting flesh for Glenn (and Yeun). The actor — who cut his teethe doing improv with Chicago’s revered Second City — talked to Zap2it about the second season of AMC’s hit zombie drama, his on-TV romance with Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and the unique on-the-job hazards he faces each day.
“Cherokee Rose” is a big episode for Glenn. So, was this your first on-camera seduction scene?
It wasn’t my first that I’ve ever done ever, but it was the first that was very meaningful. What I really loved about it was — and I hope it conveys — it wasn’t one of those watch two people have a makeout moment; it was more like how can we make this the most awkward, uncomfortable, yet hopeful and kind of a beautiful thing in the midst of all this chaos? I don’t know if it conveyed that way.
Did any of your comedy timing training come into play in that scene at all?
Definitely. Improv is my training and right before we did it, Lauren and I — I asked her if we could improvise it. And she’s down with improv as well, she’s great. So we just kind of did an improvised version of it where we didn’t use words, but put the intent in it with what we thought was the point of the scene and it really just flowed out. The realer you try to play a situation, the funnier it becomes — it’s an awkward situation.
The reason you guys had gone to the pharmacy — or part of it for Glenn — was to pick up a pregnancy test for Lori. Were you surprised that her character would trust Glenn with that kind of secret?
You know what — no. I think it’s in the realm of Lori to trust Glenn with something like that. He wouldn’t be the first person she tells, but I think there’s an understanding within this group that Glenn is a trustworthy kid and he’s the one that will — if it all comes down to who are you going to believe is doing the right thing every time, it comes to a toss up between Rick and Glenn.
Rick and Shane to some extent get a lot of credit for being the heroes, but Glenn takes just as many risks as they do and we see that with this episode with you being voluntarily lowered into a well to face this nasty bloated zombie. What was that like to film?
That was so gnarly. I was so excited for it because they built this amazing well and they built like a 30-40 foot thing and I was excited for it and I thought it was going to be really great. And it was — it was really fun, but you know, the magic of film makes what is about 5 minutes on screen about 14 hours in real life.
I was hanging from this harness and the harness had to be made so it didn’t show through my pants, so it was kind of like a seat belt strap like just around my, you know, all that area. And after a while it wasn’t as fun anymore, but it kind of helped because it helped put me in that moment. It was fun, exciting and also extremely painful.
Now when you were between takes did you and the well zombie just kind of shoot the breeze while waiting?
We really did. While we were down there I would position my legs and my back on to some of the overhanging rocks so the pressure wasn’t just on my crotch area and I would just talk to him — his name was Brian I think. And I’d be like “Hey, what’s up? How you doing man?” and he’s like “Ungh. Eyn gud.” Because you couldn’t really understand him through this big giant disgusting zombie costume. But I’d tell him to give me a thumbs up if he was fine and he would. That guy was awesome. He was great.
Actually Greg Nicotero wouldn’t let me see him until I was lowered into the well. It worked.
So you talked at Comic-Con about experiences with ticks and now you’ve got this under your belt. Any more fun on-set stories of you being uncomfortable?
Yeah, you know what? It seems like “The Walking Dead” just kind of aims for my groin. It’s great, but that’s it so far.
Will the group splinter at some point — now you’ve got Maggie to keep you at the farm?
I think that always plays. You’ve gotta think that these people have been with each other for a short while, but not long enough to be married to one another. I think after a while people grate on one another or realize their motivations are different, people realize that what they’re living for is different so there will be obvious dissension and butting of heads which might lead to people separating and losing their will to be in a group while others will be gaining more of a will to be in a group .