Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, "New Best Friends," introduced yet another new community and location into the mix — a group of emotionless scavengers who live in a junkyard and have regressed to a primitive form of language in which conjunctions no longer exist. Their leader is Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), who enters into an uneasy alliance with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) after he passed their strength test by defeating a nightmarish walker and agreeing to give them food and guns in exchange for their help in the fight against the Saviors.
This is a very strange group, and the more we learn about them, the more questions we have. Unfortunately, Andrew Lincoln isn't able to answer too many of our questions, as executive producer Scott Gimple is keeping him in the dark about what these folks' whole deal is. But he was able to answer some of our other questions, like confirming that there's definitely a Mad Max influence on this episode thanks to production designer Grace Walker, whose history working on George Miller's postapocalyptic action franchise has been referenced on the show previously.
And a big shoutout to makeup special effects artist Gino Crognale, who took the abuse as Winslow the Pinhead Walker.
TVGuide.com: Was Mad Max a conscious influence on this episode? I know your production designer worked on Mad Max.
Andrew Lincoln: Yeah, Grace did Thunderdome. The wonderful thing about this episode, alongside the characters, is this crazy environment that Grace managed to put together in just a few days. He created this incredible environment — it's not a set, it's an environment. And it's shot beautifully. It's wild and weird and very disorienting, which worked perfectly for the sequence with the pinheaded zombie.
How did you react when you first saw that crazy walker?
It got a round of applause from the set. Gino [Crognale], who's one of the best makeup guys in the business, he's been working on the show since day one, he had to get into the suit, bless him, and he spent a full day getting beaten up and decapitated by me. It takes a certain kind of man to be able to put up with that pain. And Gino was the go-to guy. He's brilliant. And he got a round from the whole crew when we saw that beautiful makeup.
We could feel in this back eight the crew and the cast getting excited again. When we started filming the cheese-slice sequence from last week and then this extraordinary monster showing up on set, we just thought "oh, wait a minute. The show hasn't gone anywhere." We've gotten back to a very, very exciting place.
I may have missed it in the episode, but is there an name for this community yet?
We called it "the Heapsters." Not the hipsters, the Heapsters. Or as I liked to call them, "Kraftwerk," because I felt like I was in some 1980s Kraftwerk video. The weirdest bunch. But no, no official name yet.
Do you know why they talk like that? Did you ask, like, "what happened to their vocabulary?"
These are questions I am still asking Scott Gimple. He won't tell me. These are questions that need some answers, I agree with you. But the beautiful thing is that because Pollyanna McIntosh and the others landed the roles so well, instantly, they arrived on set and just owned it, I totally bought it. It was the moment when Pollyanna just went "up up up," I thought, "well, there's a t-shirt." When you get actors of that caliber coming in and being able to just sell it, you can just play the moment.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.