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Yep, Norman Reedus Was Totally Naked on Tonight's Walking Dead

It was like tennis, and not just because of the balls

Alexander Zalben

This week's episode of The Walking Dead, titled "The Cell" was -- like most of the series -- dark and grim, as Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) was tortured by the villainous Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) men. Dixon was stripped naked, forced to listen to excessively cheery music, fed dog food sandwiches, and... Hold up, what was that thing about Daryl being stripped naked, exactly?

Yep, Reedus disrobed down to literally nothing to shoot the horrifying opening scenes of Daryl stripped physically and emotionally by The Saviors, and it was by Reedus' choice.

"I walked in, and wardrobe was like, 'do you want to wear a sock over your junk?' and I was like, 'nope,'" Reedus told TVGuide.com over the phone. "I just went in, naked. It's funny though, it's kind of like watching a tennis match. I sat down naked in front of the whole camera crew, and everyone's head just moved to the right. It was like they were watching Wimbledon."

Which sounds pretty funny, until you realize that this was Reedus' life for two to three days of shooting "The Cell." The actor credits being able to tackle the "physically, and spiritually draining" scenes on the crew of the show, which he's been working with for the past seven years. And not just their restraint in not looking in the direction of a naked actor, but also their commitment to the gravity of the scenes.

"They're not cracking jokes in the room, everyone's quiet, everyone's feeling it, everyone's trying to get what they're feeling on film," Reedus continued. "I don't know that it would be as easy to get there emotionally, and run with that for so long.I don't know that you could do that with a crew that you didn't have as strong of a bond with, and you feel safe with."

And there was no release valve, either. Talking to Austin Amelio, who plays Dwight on the show and was most frequently opposite Reedus in the episode, the actor noted that the actors and crew, "just rolled with it."

"Those scenes were really dark," Amelio recalled. "Not a light note in any of those scenes. You see this guy so vulnerable, and just being absolutely tortured. Not an easy thing."

Catch up on the latest news about The Walking Dead

In case you're wondering about the rest of the reality of the scene: no, Reedus didn't eat real dog food (though according to him, the mix of mystery meat was just as bad); and they didn't actually play the excessively cheery music we heard on screen, on set.

"I just imagined," Reedus said, of the chipper song The Saviors use to attempt to break Dixon. "I didn't know what the music was going to be."

This actually isn't the first time Reedus has been naked on the Walking Dead set, though the first time it wasn't captured on film: Reedus semi-pranked the set with his birthday suit, running up to the filming location starkers while filming the Season 6 premiere, "First Time Again."

Still, this time was far more serious -- both for Reedus, and for the show, which has often been accused of overly violent content, but never in the direction of sexual violence. So don't hold you breathe for the full monty from Reedus again any time soon.

The Walking Dead airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.