Sources confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the AMC series' executive producer and director is stepping down as showrunner. It's unclear whether Darabont has left the show completely, but there are apparently ongoing talks about him staying on in some capacity, according to Deadline.com, which first reported the news.
Darabont, whose other credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, was present at Walking Dead's Comic-Con panel on Friday and seemed put out by having to work long hours on the show's second season. "There are days I wish there were a zombie apocalypse because then I could stop working," he said backstage. "It's grueling to do what we do, period, the sheer hours and lack of weekends. Normal people get to work a nine-hour day and that's when we're just getting started."
"[There have been] so many writing days that were 12 hours, 15 hours, 16 hours, going on for weeks on end with no time off, and it's not easy writing 16 hours a day. You just set your mind into a different space... Last year it felt like a marathon. It was a sprint... By the time we're done with this show, I'm going to be zombie'd out for the rest of my life."
Still, it didn't seem like Darabont was planning on leaving; he spoke enthusiastically about the upcoming season and dished on writers' room discussions about the adaptation of the comic book to the show, as well as new techniques to kill zombies ("I'm really looking forward to [the zombie kill] in Episode 5," he said.)
When asked what he was most looking forward to adapting from the comic books, he first answered, "Take a vacation in December," before replying seriously: "I'm very anxious to get to the Governor, and very anxious to get to Michonne."
The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, Oct. 16 at 9/8c on AMC.