The use of French in The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon not only adds to the authenticity within this bold new landscape in the TWD Universe — after all, the show is set in France — but it also gives non-French speaking viewers the same sense of disorientation that Daryl (Norman Reedus) experiences. (Thankfully though, we get subtitles!) He’s in a new place with new people and there are many things he doesn’t understand, including the language.
It’s more than a little unsettling, and all the credit goes to the incredibly talented cast who masterfully navigate this new apocalyptic world in both French and English.
What to Watch had a chance to speak with Louis Puech Scigliuzzi (Laurent), Romain Levi (Codron) and Anne Charrier (Genet) about striking a balance when working in French and English, and how it influenced their performances.
"For me, it was very fun [to speak French and English]," said Levi. On the show, Levi’s Codron is stern and almost always angry while the actor is almost always smiling in real life.
"In the first season I don’t speak much English," he said. “A bit, but not much. But I loved it. And it’s very interesting as an actor because the words are different and the way it’s resonating inside is different. So you can play it subtly and in a different way. I wanted to be sure that I was understanding everything because we could improvise sometimes. So in English, I had to be a little more focused on the words, but it was very fun to do. I love it. And in a way, it gave me freedom in English. I felt a kind of freedom playing in English.”
Charrier, whose Genet quickly becomes one of the more intriguing villains in the TWD Universe, agreed with Levi. “You know, there’s something very thrilling about playing in a language that has been the language of the cinema you’ve been watching. We didn’t have to work on much as we didn’t have to speak perfect English. We would cover [mistakes] with our accents, so the pressure wasn’t huge. But being able to swap like that from French to English and to see how the acting would resonate was very exciting.”
During the interview, Charrier noted that Scigliuzzi is the most fluent English speaker of the group. Daryl Dixon is the tween’s first major role, and being able to use French and English helped him to improve his language skills. Previously he’d practiced English with his father, but the role of Laurent gave him a chance to develop his English accent.
"It’s really exciting," Scigliuzzi said. "Being on the show and being able to switch to French and English has really helped me improve my languages. It’s starting to get better every day I’m on set, and it’s a nice thing to know it’s improving."
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on AMC and AMC Plus beginning September 10.