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Few shows go through showrunners like The Walking Dead. Over the course of the show’s six seasons, it has had no less than three men take the reigns. Although the show certainly hit its stride in Season 4 when Scott Gimple stepped in, we all remember the decidedly different direction of the series when Frank Darabont found himself behind the wheel. His departure sparked a change for the zombie series, and left a lasting impact on members of the cast.
Speaking with EW, series lead Andrew Lincoln explained how difficult it was to see Frank Darabont fired by AMC:
It was the most painful year of my career.
So it seems safe to assume that Darabont’s departure from The Walking Dead didn’t exactly go over smoothly with the cast. As the man who brought much of the cast into the fold, he’s very much responsible for helping actors like Andrew Lincoln achieve the success they currently experience today. Despite creating the landmark zombie series, Frank Darabont departed the series following its first season after a fairly public dispute with AMC. He would even eventually go on to sue the network, claiming the show’s profits belonged to him for creating the series. After his departure, showrunner Glen Mazzara was brought in for Seasons 2 and 3, but – like Darabont – parted ways with the network before they finally brought Scott Gimple on board.
Frank Darabont has had an incredibly successful career outside of The Walking Dead. In addition to creating the wildly popular zombie series, he has directed numerous cult classic films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Many actors from his film endeavors ultimately ended up on The Walking Dead – such as Melissa McBride and Laurie Holden – so clearly actors enjoy working with him on a multitude of projects.
Although Norman Reedus – who portrays everyone’s favorite redneck, Daryl Dixon – did not become as well acquainted with Frank Darabont as other members of the cast, he also lamented the original showrunner’s firing, reminiscing on how enjoyable Darabont was to work with during a portion of The Walking Dead’s second season:
I remember he came back and he directed a portion of an episode when I come and I save IronE [Singleton, who played T-Dog] on the freeway, and it was my first time to be directed by Frank, and I was super excited. I’m always trying to be filthy on the show, but the makeup artist said, ‘That’s enough dirt.’ But Frank was like, ‘Dirtier!’ and I’m like, ‘I love this guy.’ He’s super f—ing cool and I wish I had more time with him, to be honest.
The dispute between Darabont and AMC continues to burn hot, and we will bring you updates on the conflict as they become available to us. In the meantime, you can still catch The Walking Dead every Sunday on AMC at 9 p.m. EST.