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Adds Sarah Wayne Callies (Rick's wife, Lori): "And I don't think that's an accident when it comes to Frank. He didn't just cast people, he vetted them. There's such a thing as good actors who are no good to work with...[and] a lot of his department heads have been working with him from The Shawshank Redemption to The Green Mile. I think it's very important to him to create a culture on set that encourages everyone to do their best work, as opposed to a place where egos are nurtured to the point where everyone's competing with one another. And it makes such an enormous difference."
One of the unique traits of the show which has ensnared viewers is the unpredictability of the storytelling. In order to keep everyone, even those who read the comics, guessing, the writers have diverged in huge ways from the comics - something that Kirkman, himself a writer on the show, actively encourages.
"I hate to admit to it, but... Frank wants to diverge at times and stuff, but I'm really the guy who goes 'No, let's do this [differently], and let's do this, people won't be expecting that!' Kirkman says. "I've already done this story. It's basically me being a writer, not wanting to write the same thing again, so I'm constantly pushing to add new things."
A prime example of this at work: Rick's best friend and fellow law officer Shane dies quite early on in the comics, under very shocking circumstances. However, on the tube, actor Jon Bernthal is still with us heading into season two, and delighted to continue his character's arc.
"Last year, not knowing how long I was going to be around, it sort of plagued me every day and I didn't know every time I opened a script. But now, it's sort of evolved into something different, says Bernthal. "I'm so grateful that they've breathed so much more life into Shane and let him go through everything he's gone through. But whatever happens with that happens, and I totally trust these guys. I'm just grateful for whatever time he may or may not have left."