Written by: Lois Kennedy
The Walking Dead is a violent, horror-filled show. The only characters who survive for long are the fittest, strongest killing machines. However, the actors from the show have a softer—and often surprising—side to their filmographies. But don’t worry—I’ve provided some horror-ific alternatives if all the non-horror gets you down.
- Melissa McBride—Walker, Texas Ranger (1997)
How we know her: As gruff, no-nonsense Carol Peletier.
The other side: Walker, Texas Ranger features Chuck Norris as the titular lawman who loves to prevent crime with his holier than thou attitude and to a lesser extent his fists. McBride appears in the two-part episode “Lucas”, which concerns a young boy (a pre-Sixth Sense Haley Joel Osment) whose mother is kidnapped by a drug kingpin and forced to abandon him. He’s mentored by Walker, and everything seems rosy until we find out he has contracted AIDS from his mother. Fortunately, Walker, through an inordinate amount of flashbacks to his own childhood, shows him that it’s how you live that’s important, not how long. McBride is Lucas’s doctor, a compassionate beauty with long chestnut hair who’s wont to say things like “I’m gonna miss you, Lucas. You’re precious.”
My verdict: Plus I used to watch this show with my mother and late grandmother, so there’s still some nostalgia for me. I didn’t care for the sappiness, but I have to admit the end moved me.
The palate cleanser: You can also find McBride in Mutant Species and The Mist.
- Norman Reedus—Lady Gaga’s “Judas” music video (2011)
How we know him: As fiercely loyal and courageous Daryl Dixon
The other side: The video is a highly abstracted retelling of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas (Reedus). In this version, the apostles are a motorcycle gang with custom jackets. Reedus is mainly shown riding a motorcycle, and in a couple scenes he’s sitting fully clothed in a tub with Jesus and Lady Gaga. At one point he pours beer on her bottom. Oh, and she points a gun at him that turns out to be loaded with lipstick, which she smears on his face.
My verdict: I’m a fan of Gaga, and this song is one of my favorites. I wouldn’t have minded Reedus doing more dancing and less brooding.
The palate cleanser: Check out Reedus in Mimic, Blade II, and Pandorum.
- Lauren Cohan—Archer (2014)
How we know her: As dauntless and always dignified Maggie Greene (and loving girlfriend of Glenn).
The other side: Archer is an animated spoof of James Bond movies featuring a narcissistic super spy, his nutty coworkers, and his dour mother (who is also his boss). Cohan appears in four episodes, beginning with “Palace Intrigue Part I.” Archer and company have traveled to Central America to sell weapons to a dictator, but their plans are foiled when Presidente Calderon refuses to buy. To exacerbate the tension, Archer is seduced by Calderon’s callously unfaithful wife Juliana (Cohan), who proceeds to blackmail him.
My verdict: I loves me some Archer. It’s funny and less sexist than you’d think; actually the female characters are very strong. The animation is pretty great too.
The palate cleanser: You don’t need one.
Bonus Walking Dead actor: Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon) appears in the episode “Bloody Ferlin.”
- Danai Gurira—Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast (2014)
How we know her: As sword-wielding badass Michonne.
The other side: Disney has recently resurrected Tinker Bell and has been making computer animated movies about her and her forest-dwelling fairy buddies. This particular one focuses on Fawn, a fairy who is caring about animals to a fault. She befriends the NeverBeast, but the less than sociable protector fairies, the Scouts, are convinced that he is a monster that will kill them all. Fawn has to find a way to prove them wrong before they…I guess poke him to death with their toothpick-sized spears? At any rate, a lesson about empathy and not judging others based on appearance is learned by all. Gurira is Fury, a Scout fairy, and thus the actor in this article the least removed from her most famous character. (She’s not referred to by name in the movie, but her voice is quite distinctive.)
My verdict: The Tinker Bell movies are some of the more tolerable programs my five-year-old enjoys watching. I appreciate the dry humor and the cast, which includes Mae Whitman, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symone, and Pamela Adlon.
The palate cleanser: Gurira can also be seen in My Soul to Take, but honestly I’d rather watch Tinker Bell than sit through that movie again.
- Andrew Lincoln—Love Actually (2003)
How we know him: As grizzled tough guy and family man Rick Grimes.
The other side: Love Actually is a romantic comedy told from the point of view of multiple couples experiencing ups and downs at Christmas time. Among the many famous faces are Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Martin Freeman, and Laura Linney. Lincoln is Mark, a guy quietly in love with his best friend’s wife (Keira Knightley). Here he is twelve years younger, English, and fairly cheerful, even smiling on occasion.
The palate cleanser: There isn’t one for Lincoln. It’s actually quite entertaining as far as rom-coms go. Enjoy Bill Nighy.
So next time you watch The Walking Dead, I defy you not to think of Tinker Bell and Chuck Norris. You’re welcome.
Author’s note: A big thank you to IMDB for filmographies, dates, and spelling. And also to my husband for double-checking my impressions of Walking Dead characters based on my less than extensive knowledge of the show.
Lois Kennedy is an avid horror fan who loves to write. You can also find her under the pseudonym Ghoulie Joe on Facebook, YouTube, and WordPress.