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When a TV show is filled with as much surprising death and mayhem as AMC’s The Walking Dead, you'd think the conversational spotlight would remain focused on its main characters' survival, not necessarily who they’re attracted to. Yet when it comes to Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon, cable’s most crossbow-ready warrior, a growing section of the show's audience members are curious about whether or not he’s gay. According to Reedus, we may never get a frank answer from the character himself.
Speaking with GQ, Reedus discussed Daryl potentially being a virgin, which is also still up in the air, and then he revealed some insight into the character’s early development.
I remember [creator and former showrunner] Frank Darabont, after the first season, we were at a party in L.A. He said, ‘I’ve got an idea for Daryl. He’s gay. Would you be interested in that?’ I was like, ‘Let me hear you out.’ He said, ‘Well, he’s prison gay. Like, you’ll catch him looking at a member of the same sex, but if you mention it to him, he’ll just stab you and be like, What the fuck? He will never admit it.’ I was like, ‘That’ll blow minds – let’s do that.’ And he said, ‘I knew I hired you for a reason.’”
Of course, Darabont got fired after that under completely unrelated circumstances, so we can’t consider his initial vision to be a continuous part of The Walking Dead universe. However, since Reedus is still a part of the show, and still has that story fresh in his mind, it’s entirely plausible that the actor will stick to those guns on this issue should current showrunner Scott Gimple and comic creator/writer Robert Kirkman ever overtly breach the topic. Daryl doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would murder a fellow survivor based solely on their conception of his sexuality, but then again, we don’t really know that much about him. (Although seriously, who else in this frazzled group of dudes would he find attractive?)
Not that we have any reason to believe Gimple will cover that ground any time soon. Last month, he talked about the perception that people have of the character, but rather than stating whether or not audiences would get clued in, he just attributed it to the way Reedus plays the character. He’s definitely a guarded guy and doesn’t share much about himself or his feelings – Daryl doesn’t even say when he’s hungry, really – and according to Reedus, Daryl’s relative silence is strongly the actor’s choice.
“He’s definitely not a ladies’ man or thinks of himself as having enough confidence to be that type of person,” Reedus said. “I want to play him searching for confidence, not full of confidence…I like all the little things that are awkward.” I’m pretty sure Daryl’s gigantic fanbase sees the character as everything BUT awkward and lacking confidence. He’s a total badass, but not one defined by his attractions.
The Walking Dead Season 5 will debut on Sunday, October 12, so audiences will be able to read into every single thing the character does. Watch his eyes, and hope that he doesn’t wear sunglasses.