Some kids match wits against zombies and other dangerous enemies through virtual worlds and video games. Chandler Riggs gets to do it in real life – on TV, that is.
As Carl Grimes on the AMC smash hit “The Walking Dead,” Chandler is part of a feisty band of survivors that has been fighting off the ravenous “walkers” for four seasons.
“It’s really cool. I’m a teen boy so I like seeing blood and guts,” Chandler said, laughing. “I know it’s fake, but I’m having fun.”
Fun is a word that pops up often in conversation with the 14-year-old, who is busy studying for finals (he’s going into his sophomore year of high school), filming season five of the series and appearing at conventions across North America including this weekend’s Niagara Falls Comic Con in Niagara Falls, Ont. The star-studded lineup includes William Shatner, Dean Cain, Kevin Sorbo and Tracey Gold. The convention opens Friday in Scotibank Convention Centre; Chandler will appear on Saturday and Sunday.
During a phone interview last week, Chandler was filming episode two of the series and had the script for episode three.
“It’s going great. It’s so much fun getting to work with everyone again,” he said.
But he wouldn’t dish any details, except to say he’s excited about his character.
“I like the way Carl has developed. It’s interesting to see him grow. I’m enjoying seeing where he is going,” Chandler said.
Chandler was 10 when he originated the role of the shy, fresh-faced Carl who has had to grow up fast and endure great hardships and tragedy including getting shot, nearly dying and shooting his mother in the head to keep her from turning into a zombie – after helping deliver his baby sister via a C-section on a dirty boiler room floor. Though that scene was tough for many viewers to watch (in an episode recap, the Huffington Post wrote “We think we may be traumatized for life”), Chandler said the atmosphere and the camaraderie on the set makes all the difference.
“Some of the actors were going through something similar in that episode. It was a really sad time for all of us. We lost two major characters,” he said. “But there’s no real intensity or tension on the set with these scenes. When it has to be serious, like an intense scene where someone is getting killed off, we try to keep it on the down-low. Otherwise, everyone has fun.”
And, if you are wondering, the jokester on the set, Chandler said, is fan favorite Norman Reedus, who plays the quiet, cross-bow wielding Daryl.
Chandler’s favorite episode: season four, episode four in which he got to “fire off a bunch of rounds on a machine gun on my birthday.”
And about that infamous pudding scene in season four where Carl finds a goldmine of canned goods in a deserted house and eats a 112-ounce can of pudding? “The first few bites were great – then a quarter of the way through, it wasn’t too good,” Chandler laughed.
That scene helped the episode draw an astonishing 1.2 million tweets. “I never knew it would be that big of a thing,” Chandler said. “It was Carl’s trademark for the second half of the fourth season.”
This will be the second time Chandler has appeared at the Niagara Falls convention. The last time he was there he enjoyed visiting the falls with his family. Most of all, though, conventions give him another opportunity to interact with fans, something he also does on social media including Facebook, Instagram and on YouTube.
“It makes their day. And it’s cool to make someone’s day by liking a photo or answering a question,” Chandler said. “I like to meet fans and hear their viewpoints. It’s tons of fun.”
As to what the future holds on “The Walking Dead,” again Chandler won’t spill.
“In a zombie apocalypse, I expect insane things to happen.”
What: Niagara Falls Comic Con
When: Friday through Sunday
Where: Scotiabank Convention Centre, 6815 Stanley Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont.
Guests include: William Shatner (Sunday), Marina Sirtis, Ernie Hudson, Ric Flair, Tyler Mane, Sylvester McCoy, Karyn Parsons, Burt Gold, Tony Todd, Jason David Frank, Giancarlo Esposito.
Tickets: $25 per day; $60 three-day pass