Wizard World: The Brothers of Destruction of 'The Walking Dead'

Reedus and Rooker talk hunting, fishing, and zombie killing

"When there's a scene where we wipe out a bunch of people, it becomes a math problem." Norman Reedus explains the problems of a crossbow to his 'The Walking Dead' costar Michael Rooker at Wizard World Austin Comic-Con (Photo by Richard Whittaker)

So Merle Dixon is back on AMC's The Walking Dead, and he's cozied up with The Governor, the source comic's defining psycho. So, sooner or later, he'll be back with brother Daryl. This weekend, at Wizard World Austin Comic Con, fans of the show got a little preview as stars Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker took the stage.

So who would the pair like to face the real zombie apocalypse with? Reedus pointed straight as "this badass right here," and Rooker pointed straight back.

There are downsides of playing the top predators in a show that makes the good guys ruthless. Case in point, the weirdest gift a fan ever gave Reedus at a convention. "She had a plastic bag with meat in it and this oily stuff. She goes, 'It's squirrel. I hunted it down with a shovel.'"

The one point of disagreement between the pair may have been about Daryl's preferred method of zombie slaying: His signature crossbow. Rooker, no mean bowman himself, is a compound bow kind of guy. He said, "Usually people who shoot compounds and recurves, I don't want to say this, but they poop people who shoot crossbows. They think crossbows are for people who don't have the strength to pull it."

"I pull it every day, man," Reedus deadpanned.

Still, he was happy to defend Daryl's weapon of choice. "The crossbow is one of those instruments you go somewhere high, pull out your bolts and pick things off." But sometimes Daryl has to get down and dirty in melee fighting, and that causes trouble. Reedus said, "When there's a scene where we wipe out a bunch of people, it becomes a math problem. You can't shoot an arrow. You have to dry-fire an arrow, load it on camera, drop it out of frame, pick it back up, dry-fire it, pick up the arrow, stick it in someone's face, let go of the bow."

"I was very impressed," said Rooker. "I didn't know you were that coordinated"

"I'm really not," Reedus retorted. "I ran through a doorway in one scene, and clocked the side of the crossbow into the doorframe and gave myself a black eye for a week. Very graceful."

Daryl's not just known for being a backwoods crack shot. He also roars through the hills on his brother's old chopped Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. Shouldn't he get something that, as the questioner put it, makes him less of a Pied Piper for the shambling undead? Nope, said Reedus. "It's good on gas, and Daryl don't give a fuck." However, as the zombie plague continues, more people are looking for equine transportation. That's not something Reedus relishes. "Horses freak me out with their big eyeballs and smelling fear." No such luck on The Conspirator, in which he played Lincoln assassination plotter Lewis Powell. During one scene, he said, "Every time (Robert) Redford would shout 'action,' my horse would trot backwards into the camera, and I would have no idea how to stop it. Take 15 and Redford's like, 'Fuck it!' and storms off set."

Rooker had his own horseback horror story. "In Tombstone, I was supposed to do a slide stop, throw my shotgun up, and kill the bad guy." It all goes perfectly "and then the horse freaked. It was standing on hind legs, I'm holding onto the horse's neck, it goes back down, I lose my reins and it's off." Fortunately, there were experienced riders on set, "Western girls on quarter horses, ten, 15 yards ahead of us, just waiting," Rooker said. "I fell in love that day. This chick comes running up on a horse, fast as can be, grabbed my reins, pulled them up, pulled the horse up to a stop, and said, 'There you go, baby.' Wow."

Read our interview with Michael Rooker and other Wizard World guests. Also, catch up on our photogallery of cosplayers, conventioneers and comics.

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