Walking down the street in Savannah, GA, Norman Reedus is every bit the Southern gentleman fans who know him from The Walking Dead might expect him to be — even though he was raised in Los Angeles. He happily stops to take pictures with a wedding party tearing it up, keeping the same even keel he brings to Dead’s Daryl Dixon.
He’s on a break from the AMC hit show’s Atlanta set and teaching a master class in the performing arts department of the Savannah College of Art and Design, as part of the annual Savannah Film Festival, but you’d never know he was just a visitor. He looks right at home amidst all the camera flashes and southern-accented squeals of delight from ardent fans.
Playboy sat down with Reedus to discuss a few of his passion projects outside of Dead, which include two very different photography books available on his website BigBaldHead.com, as well as take a walk through our Lucky 7 questions — which revealed a surprising first encounter with Playboy.
Aside from Walking Dead, what’s on your plate right now?
I have a book of photos that is out right now. It’s 15 years of just my life, basically. It’s not all about acting, but I guess they go together in that I’m the middle of that sandwich.
When did you decide to start your own production company and self-publish these books?
I directed three little short films and I would announce [online], “Put the money toward this charity” or this tragic event or environmental event that happened. I would print the films on disks and ship them out. The money would go to that charity and every month I’d pick a new one. The orders became so big that going to the post office on Canal St. in New York was like torture. So I changed it to digital downloads. People had seen my digital photography and kept asking to purchase those so I added a couple photos to that site. But then that became too much because I had to go back and have them printed and shipped — and my not being in New York all the time made it difficult to do. So I made digital downloads of the films and printed a book and all the proceeds go to Estonia.
Playboy’s Lucky 7 Questions
What was your first encounter with Playboy?
My mom, she was a Playboy bunny. I come from a family of really confident, strong, cool women, so [looking at the magazine] wasn’t a sneaky thing. I was no stranger to nudity when I first saw it, but yeah, I liked the drawings and all that, I still remember those.
What movie that scared you most as a kid?
The movie that scared me the most became my favorite movie: The Omen. When I first saw that I was really freaked out. Also there’s a movie I saw when I was really little called The Cars That Ate Paris — I think it’s Australian gangs who have cars they terrorize people with. One of them is a Volkswagen Bug that had spikes all over it and they’d ram it into people. I saw that in the drive-in and it freaked me out.
What’s your pop-culture blind spot?
Yeah, what is Chive? Somebody asked me that yesterday and I said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” They said, “Hey man, do you Chive?” I said, “What the fuck are you talking about? I don’t think I do.”
Heaven forbid, you’re on death row — what’s your last meal?
God, it would probably be a mountain of chocolate. Milk chocolate. I don’t like white chocolate — but milk chocolate, like a mountain of it. And a bottle of vodka. No, I’d have tequila and chocolate, that’s what I’d have. A bottle of tequila and a whole mountain of chocolate.
What was your first car?
My first car was a Karmann Ghia convertible. I bought it yellow and painted it white, it was cool. I beat the crap out of that car.
What is the first song you knew all the words to?
Had to be the Stones because my mom used to blast the Stones. “Hotel California,” maybe. Oh, no, I know what it is: “Straight to Hell,” because my mom and I used to sing that while we did the dishes.
What is your favorite mistake?
Yeah, let me think. I became an actor, that was kind of an accident, one that also involved tequila. I was at a party — someone took me to a party after I quit my job at a motorcycle place, fixing motorcycles — and I drank too much. I started yelling at a room full of people at a Hollywood party and somehow that turned into this.
Bonus: Playmate Pamela Horton caught up with Reedus during 2014’s San Diego Comic-Con:
Kara Warner is a writer/reporter living in Los Angeles. Likes: Men in kilts, ladies in power suits, the Denver Broncos. Dislikes: Plastic surgery frozen faces on Bravo, losing, zombies.