Our exclusive coverage kicks off right here with an interview with Danai Gurira, who will be taking on the iconic role of fan-favourite comic character Michonne. Read on to find out what the 34-year-old actress had to say about taking on such a prized role, learning to wield a sword and overcoming her "scaredy-cat-ness" to face down hordes of flesh-eating zombies!
Is it right that you'd never actually seen The Walking Dead before you auditioned for the role of Michonne?
"It is true. When I got the audition, I prepped for the audition, then I watched it."
What did you think of the show when you watched it?
"I loved it - I knew it was considered a really great show and that it had shocked critics and gone beyond its genre and become a really beautiful drama. I'd heard of it, but I'd avoided the whole zombie aspect. I was like. 'No, no, no, I don't want to watch zombies!'
"When I got the audition, I was like, 'Okay, I've got to watch zombies', but I really got sucked in, because it's so character-driven and it's so beautifully put together. That's what appeals - it isn't just a zombie show, it's not just a zombie book.
"It goes beyond that - it goes into that human experience, almost that warzone authenticity and that human experience of, 'Who do you become in a situation that dire?' So the zombies are a threat but it isn't so much about them, it's about who people become in the midst of that. That really drew me in... and then I got over my scaredy-cat-ness!"
Now you're a part of the show, have you got used to the violence and the horror aspect?
"It's great stuff, I love it. I started to fall in love with how the zombies are put together when I was watching the show and I got over my fear. Meeting Greg Nicotero, the genius behind all of that, I came to the studio before I started shooting in Los Angeles and I was just so thrilled to see how they put them together and to see the massive zombie-making factory - it was so exciting.
"I kind of love it all now. Sometimes [when you're filming] you're in 100-degree heat and it's a lot, but with the violent aspects of things... I've always been attracted to action stuff. Being able to play an action character who is able to apply herself physically in that way really thrilled me. I'm really enjoying that."
Michonne is a fan-favourite character. Is it difficult tackling a role when the anticipation is so high?
"It's been a lot of love, so that's really been the overwhelming experience I've had. People are really excited that she's finally alive and they can see who she's alive through. It's just been an overwhelming amount of love I have received from people, from fans of the book and the show.
"We all know that the TV show has never literally interpreted the book - it always does its own thing. It's a different genre of storytelling so it has to, of course. It would be wretchedly predictable if it did follow the book to the letter.
"This Michonne... definitely a lot of the same aspects are there, but she is reinterpreted for the screen and we will see how people respond to that. Ultimately I think we've retained a lot of who she is known to be, but when someone comes to life there have to be some differences from what is there on the page."
Did you read the Walking Dead comics or did you just take inspiration from the script?
"I did read the comics. I'm a bit of a researcher, so I read all of them!"
That's quite impressive! What was it like for you coming aboard an established cast that's already been at this for two seasons?
"They were very welcoming. It's really about human dynamics - I came in humbly and understanding that this was an amazing gift I'd received. They had already built this amazing ship and I get to be part of it.
"They were extremely welcoming and wonderful towards me and really embraced me from the get-go. It was amazing and lovely. I actually live in an apartment building with three other cast members - you know, it's really a family and they welcomed me into it. I feel like I'm a part of the family now. That's very special - I know it doesn't always happen so I'm very thankful for that."
We last saw Michonne with Andrea (Laurie Holden) - how does that relationship develop?
"We see in the season finale earlier this year that Michonne saved her and the reason she saved her is... she sees a fighter. She sees someone who is a strong woman who won't go down without a fight. Andrea is running and fighting - she's running out of ammo and bashing their heads in and won't go down without a fight!
"Michonne is watching all of this, and Michonne doesn't do anything unless she understands why she is doing it. She listens to her instincts, so she takes out the zombie and saves Andrea. I see a fellow woman of strength and determination and know that's someone I can hang with. I think that dynamic you can definitely see going into the next season - a mutual respect."
Michonne is famous for her swordsmanship - was there a lot of training required there?
"Absolutely - unfortunately I wasn't born knowing how to do it! I had to do a lot of work and it was intense and it was a lot. It required a lot of commitment, focus and dedication, but of course I was more than willing to give it that to give her the life she needed.
"I did enjoy it after a while, but at first it was painful and a lot of muscles I never knew were needed in life were needed for that weapon! It was a new experience in that regard - I'm quite athletic and active but it's a whole other ball-park, a whole other thing.
"When I started to feel more comfortable and find my own body's response to the weapon and live in it more, it became really fun. I love having it, I love using it and I love every aspect of it - it's an amazing weapon. I started watching samurai films - obviously I'm never going to do it like them but just watching how they manoeuvre the weapon is very inspiring. It's such an interestingly delicate yet powerfully precise relationship [she has with her sword] and I love it. I think that is so Michonne too, y'know? She is efficient and she is precise."
Season three will also introduce us to the prison setting. What was it like filming on that set?
"Yeah, from the time I've spent there, it is very impressive and very interesting and very authentic-looking. There are amazing amounts of detail, like the splattered blood against the wall. I would try and go up into a little area to do my own little prep for a scene and because I didn't know the set, I walked into the place where [on the show] the guards watch over the common room and there's this dead guard in there who'd shot his own brains out! I was like, 'Oh God!' - there are these little things that they put in there that are really amazing."
Coming on as a new cast member, have you bonded with other people coming onto the show fresh, like David Morrissey (The Governor)?
"It probably sounds terrible because we're enemies in the show and in the book, but I love David and we do hang out and we do have a good time! He's hilarious and he's very great to work with - he is an awesome guy.
"It's been great to connect with the new cast mates as well as the old. It really does feel like a gift to be among this group of actors."
As someone who has seen the first two seasons and is now starring in the third, how do you think these new episodes differ from the old?
"The beauty of it is that season two was so different from season one and that will definitely be the case again. They're in a whole new location to last time and it does affect this whole entourage of characters. There's a lot of action happening and so I think it's a whole different gear.
"The beauty of the creators of the show and their vision is that they will always keep it in a different gear. You will never get comfortable and you will never find it predictable from what I've been experiencing. There is no sitting back - it's really edge of the seat stuff pretty much all the time, which is really thrilling to be a part of."
The Walking Dead season three begins on FX in the UK on Friday, October 19 at 10pm. In the US, the series returns on October 14 on AMC.