1 of 5 | Romain Levi (L) and Elias Hauter star in "The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon." Photo by Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
NEW YORK, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Romain Levi says that right from the start, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon pits his French soldier character, Codron, against the titular American hero played by Norman Reedus.
"Daryl Dixon is Codron's enemy," Levi told reporters in a recent Zoom round-table interview.
"The first day of shooting, we had this big fight," the French actor said. "I was very impressed to see Norman like that. But, actually, he has been so kind with me. He was very gentle and always asked me if my head was OK, if my neck was fine because he punched me a lot."
The latest chapter of The Walking Dead, zombie-apocalypse saga premieres Sunday on AMC and AMC+
This time around, Daryl is slaying monsters thousands of miles from home in France with no idea how he got there.
The series, which is in French and English, follows him and all the people he meets as he travels the country, trying to get back to his loved ones. It co-stars Clémence Poésy, Adam Nagaitis, Anne Charrier, Eriq Ebouaney, Laika Blanc Francard and Louis Puech Scigliuzzi.
"I won't be able to speak about the kind of zombies there are in France, but what I can tell you is they are strong," Levi said, with a nod to the outbreak that started the apocalypse more than a decade ago.
"France is at war. We have to survive in this world," he added. "We have to do different kinds of things in order to kill these difficult zombies."
Codron is serving in a military organization, struggling to re-establish order in the country, when his brother is murdered while on patrol.
Mistakenly believing Daryl is to blame, the soldier spends most of the series hunting down the American.
"Codron doesn't give up things and he will do everything he can to get what he wants," Levi said.
While the actor obviously isn't as extreme as the character he plays, Levi -- who admits he can be shy at times -- is trying to be more committed to his goals in his real life.
"I don't like regrets so much," he said. "I don't like the feeling of, 'Oh, I could have worked more. I could have invested more on this.'"
Levi was working at a bakery and a big fan of the flagship series when it first started.
"At the end of the day, I was so happy to go back home and eat something and watch three or four episodes in a row of The Walking Dead," he said.
"I wish I could speak to that guy I was 10 years ago and tell him, 'You're going to play with Daryl Dixon!' It's beyond my wildest dreams."
Despite the bleak nature of the show, uplifting themes of hope, faith and family shine through the narrative, with Daryl meeting other survivors who are willing to take him or help him on his journey.
"No matter how dark a place can be, you can find light," Levi said. "Sometimes it takes time, but you can find the light."
Daryl Dixon has already been renewed for a second season.
The Walking Dead ran for 11 seasons from 2010 to 2022. The comic-book adaptation spawned the spin-offs Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Tales of the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: Dead City.
The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as Rick and Michonne, is set to premiere in 2024.