The Walking Dead cast, crew, and producers are still reeling from tragedy after stuntman John Bernecker’s death earlier this month. But the show has resumed production and Bernecker’s death will not affect story lines on the upcoming season, The Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman told reporters after an AMC Visionaries panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday.
“No story lines were changed,” he said. “That was a tragic accident. It wasn’t story-related, it was just a freak accident that happened on set, and it’s something we’re dealing with, but it hasn’t affected the storyline in any way.”
Asked how people on the set of the hit zombie drama were coping, Kirkman said, “They’re dealing with it. It’s a tragedy, so it’s something that everyone is dealing with in their own way. It’s something that will continue to stick with us for years to come.”
The Walking Dead cast, some of whom shared their condolences on social media, and producers opened their Comic-Con panel last weekend by paying tribute to Bernecker, who died July 12 after falling 30 feet onto a concrete floor during a fight scene on the set. (Production on season 8 was halted for several days.)
“John passed away this week after he was injured doing something he loved — helping tell stories that excite, entertain, and give people escape,” executive producer Scott Gimple told the Comic-Con crowd. “John was someone beloved in the stunt community, someone who trained other people and helped them break into the business. He was living his dream, and he helped other people do the same thing.”
At the Fear the Walking Dead panel that preceded The Walking Dead session, Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick opened the session by asking for a moment of silence for Bernecker.
Season 8 of The Walking Dead kicks off Oct. 22, and the first trailer can be seen right here.
AMC canceled a scheduled TCA panel for The Walking Dead on Saturday, explaining that producers could make it because they were attending Bernecker’s funeral.
–Reporting by Natalie Abrams