SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the midseason finale “Coda” of AMC’s The Walking Dead, there are ruinous spoilers ahead! You have been warned.
Fans of The Walking Dead were in for a shock on Sunday, Nov. 30, when the midseason finale of the drama-thriller aired on AMC.
The fifth season went to break with the violent death of a major character, leaving fans two months to adjust to the loss before The Walking Dead‘s February return. Actress Emily Kinney‘s character Beth Greene was killed off in the particularly suspenseful episode, ending her three-year run with the show. (On the bright side, she’ll have a little more attention to devote to her budding music career, including the release of her next single “Rockstar” on Dec. 9 and a new album next year.)
In a heartbreaking moment, Beth is shot in the head in a standoff at the hospital, killed by Officer Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods) just as she is seemingly reunited with her friend Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and other allies. Us Weekly caught up with Kinney, 29, about the shocking twist, and how she felt about saying goodbye to Beth and The Walking Dead.
Us Weekly: How did the showrunners let you know about Beth’s death?
Emily Kinney: I found out the day that the script came out. They came to me and told me before everyone else in the cast. I didn’t read the script right away because I was working on [last week’s] episode seven at the time. I wanted to avoid reading it at first, because the next day I had to do all my scenes for episode seven. Not to mention I wasn’t really excited to see what was going to happen. I just stayed focused on that first. I had a little while to emotionally prepare… at least a little while.
Us: When did you finally break open the script?
EK: I waited until I was done working on episode seven before I went back to the script and finally read it. I don’t even remember reading it. I don’t remember that at all.
Us: What was your initial reaction to reading it?
EK: I was pretty sad. I really had no idea [that Beth was going to die]. I know it’s happened like this in the past but for some reason I thought, ‘Oh, they would tell me.’ I really didn’t know, so I was very sad and just dealing with, ‘What am I going to do with all my stuff?’ All the little stuff that you go through with a big change like that. It was quite a few years of my life.
Us: What was it like preparing for Beth’s death scene?
EK: I remember working on the scene, we had to block out that last scene where I die. We did a rehearsal of it because it was complicated — there are the fake gunshots and there are so many people involved in it. I think going through it then was helpful, not having to do it for the first time on set.
Us: Did you tell the rest of the cast about Beth’s death once you found out?
EK: I let it play out. I didn’t have a method of telling everyone. I left the office, I cried, and then I just went about the next thing that I had to do. I just had to get right back to it. I wasn’t anxious to tell anyone. People reached out to me the next day.
Us: Who reached out to you when they found out?
EK: Steven [Yeun] (Glenn Rhee) has always been the person who reaches out to people in a beautiful way so I heard from him pretty quickly. He’s been a really great guy. Everyone reached out though, I remember Norman [Reedus] (Daryl Dixon) texted me. He’s so sweet. Lauren [Cohan] (Maggie Greene) gave me a call right away. We’ve been working forever together and we’re good friends.
Us: Was it hard to process Beth’s death and your resulting life change?
EK: I didn’t really sleep. I don’t think people could tell. I just went about my business and as people would reach out I would tell them how sad I was to leave. I do remember being really sad on set. It was difficult for me to be there, but I put my head down and did the scenes.
Us: How did you say goodbye to the show?
EK: There was a little party. We had a campfire, campout party. It was good to see everyone. It makes you realize that you have to enjoy the time you have with people. At the end I was trying to really soak up everything.
Us: Do you think you’ll stay in touch with everyone?
EK: I still see Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) all the time, who played my dad. I just saw him last night, we had dinner together. I will try to stay in touch with everyone.
Us: Did you take any keepsakes from the set?
EK: I’m not as much of a collector as everyone else. I have this turtle shell that Norman [Reedus] gave me that I take everywhere!
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