'The Walking Dead' Flashback: 26 Stars Share Crazy Audition Tales and Early Fears

With AMC bowing companion series 'Fear the Walking Dead,' the cast — past and present — of the flagship zombie drama recall their audition stories. Who auditioned from a castle? Who thought for sure she'd be the first character killed off?
Courtesy of AMC

AMC on Sunday will hope to catch lighting in a bottle a second time as it launches Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series to ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead.

With the launch of the new series — set at the dawn of the zombie outbreak — The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the cast of the flagship series — past and present — to look back on their early days auditioning for the show that at the time, many didn't think would ever work.

Who was the first person cast? (It wasn't leading man Andrew Lincoln!) Laurie Holden — who went on to play Andrea — auditioned to play … Lori Grimes?! Fan favorite Norman Reedus read to play the other Dixon brother, Merle, even though Michael Rooker had already been cast. Which cast member submitted an audition tape with her kid sister reading the part of her love interest? had laundry in the background of her audition tape? Which star nearly missed out on a role because network executives thought he was too recognizable? Who landed their role because of Robert Kirkman's love for The Wire? Who nearly blew their audition? Which actress thought without a doubt that she'd be the first cast member killed off? Which cast members did former showrunner Frank Darabont — who developed Kirkman's comics for TV — recruit sight unseen? Which cast member auditioned for the role of bad-ass Michonne but wound up with a brand new role instead?

Now, as Fear the Walking Dead stars Kim Dickens (Sons of Anarchy), Cliff Curtis (Gang Related), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam-Carey (The 100) start their journey, THR caught up with 26 of The Walking Dead cast members (past and present including Lincoln, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, Jeff DeMunn and Laurie Holden) to take a look back at their early days on the zombie drama that nobody thought would work.

[Editor's note: Michael Rooker, Seth Gilliam and Chandler Riggs declined to participate or did not respond to multiple requests to be included. We will include them should that change. Updated now to include Jon Bernthal.]

Click here to read the cast's audition tales.

Fear the Walking Dead premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.; The Walking Dead returns with its sixth season Oct. 11 at 9 p.m., both on AMC.