‘The Walking Dead’ just lost what most would consider the show’s two main characters, Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln and Maggie Rhee, portrayed by Lauren Cohan. It appears that the series is determined not to lose any more big names. Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus, who portray Carol Peletier and Daryl Dixon, respectively, have signed new contracts which will lock them into ‘The Walking Dead’ franchise for three years at least. These lucrative deals ensure payment, whether or not they film anything, meaning that should the series decide to write those characters out, the actors will still collect their paychecks. Reportedly, a similar offer has been made to Danai Gurira, a.k.a. Michonne, but she has not yet signed.
Both McBride and Reedus have been with the show from the first season. Carol has grown from a mousy abused wife to hardcore badass over the years, while brooding Daryl has been the show’s resident heartthrob from the start. Of particular note is that Daryl is a character created for the TV show and did not originate in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s Image comic book.
According to insider reports, Reedus will now earn $350,000 per episode, plus guarantees and advances, which some estimate could be worth between $50 million to $90 million overall. McBride’s per episode rate is unknown, but her salary is said to be a “sizable” increase which should earn her approximately $20 million over three years. Their deals extend beyond the core ‘Walking Dead’ series. Lincoln is returning in a series of three TV movies. Should McBride or Reedus move to a ‘Walking Dead’ side project– another series, miniseries, special, movie, online project– their salaries are guaranteed.
AMC programming president David Madden spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and said:
“The deals that we made for Norman and Melissa are franchise deals. Our deals with Norman and Melissa allow us the flexibility to either move them or use them in more than one place, depending on what seems creatively right to Scott and to his partners.
“We do look at this as a universe where we’re trying to expand into as many different places as the show fits. We think this is a franchise that could live across formats. So we want to do it carefully; we want to be strategic; we want to try to do it right. But there is a multi-year plan that could include additional series, digital content and specials.”
Not yet signed is Danai Gurira whose character Michonne is basically the most popular character in the comic books and has been a breakout on television as well. But Gurira’s star is on the rise elsewhere. She starred in the record-breaking Marvel movies ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ this year, as another kickass warrior woman, Okoye of Wakanda’s all-female squadron, the Dora Milaje. She is expected to return in next year’s ‘Avengers 4’ and a sequel to ‘Black Panther’, and there is a chance she could appear elsewhere in the MCU.
She has reportedly been cast in two more major motion pictures, ‘Godzilla Vs. Kong’ and an untitled fourth ‘Star Trek’ movie. On stage, she wrote the play ‘Eclipsed’ which was nominated for a Tony Award.
Regarding her ‘Walking Dead’ status, Madden said:
“She has been very vocal about saying that she loves the show. We love Danai; we love that character. Right now, she’s got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her. But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it. We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays. Obviously, the lesson of Andy is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”
Are you glad that Carol and Daryl are staying put? Would you be upset to see Michonne go?