Bacon: I knew a certain amount about it because of having directed a lot of "The Closer" and having spent time and seeing that world and seeing secondhand, you know. My wife [Kyra Sedgwick] would come home, and she had this little tape recorder and she's sitting there all weekend. And then every time I want to do anything with her, she's like, "Sorry. We're running lines." I could see that grind. But I found it really enjoyable. I'll tell you why. Because I stopped and I looked at my life, and in the course of a year, like maybe 5% of my time I've spent acting. Five percent of my time was between "action" and "cut." The rest of it is, you know, promoting something, waiting for lighting setups, traveling, hopefully reading stuff, waiting for the phone to ring. I really like to act, that's really what I like to do. And when you're on a TV show, you act your ass off. Ten pages, you know, in a day as opposed to 10 pages in a month or two months or whatever it is. So even with the pace and with the hours, I get home and I'm exhilarated. I'm sure you would all agree that when you play a character over a period of time, they can throw you into any kinda situation, and you know how your people will react. So you can kind of go with that instinct sort of thing as opposed—

Britton: You want them to throw you in the middle of this.

Bacon: Yeah. Sure you do.

Britton: Like, that's the fun of it is you have all this opportunity to have your character go through all these twists and turns.

Bacon: Yeah. So I found it great. I mean tiring and definitely a very, very in our case dark place to go. There was too much killing and too much dying and too much just, you know, like tragedy for me to be able to turn it on and off like a faucet. So it was a dark place for sure for the months that we were doing it, but at the same time exhilarating.

Speaking of darkness—You have been miraculous in playing one of the darkest and most twisted people ever.

Cranston: Well, I just think he's misunderstood. (laughter)

But it's gotta be, like Kevin said, not the easiest thing to put on the skin of this guy.

Cranston: Actually, there's a little bit of protection that comes when you're doing it in the third or fourth or fifth or sixth seasons. You know, and mostly it's like a talisman. I put on my wallabies and my hat and I shave my head and I grow my goatee out. And I look in the mirror and go, "Oh, yeah, there he is." And you just kind of let it inside. And I did find places because of the fact that the series got dark that I wanted to lighten it up. I wanted to play the practical jokes on people and have fun because that's what we're there for. We want to have fun during the process.

There's really no fun when you're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. (laughter)

Your show, just right off the bat, was a phenomenon. First of all, what was it like sort of coming from British television to American television and just getting on this fast-moving train?

Lincoln: I was terrified. You know, the first—the pilot episode in the show that I'm in, I'm isolated for a lot of the first part of the story. And so I remained quite alone for a lot of it. But then after a while, you realize it's an ordinary film set, and I knew what all the people did. And then after a while, it became incredibly comfortable. But it was very much about dialect first. I went out early just to, you know, because if you're going to have the honor of leading or being involved in playing an iconic sort of American role, I wanted to get that bit out of the way before the zombies. You know what I mean? So I could focus on killing them.

(laughter)

Lincoln: But it, you know, just to work with extraordinary people like Frank Darabont, I mean, he was the guy that took me onto the plane to do the screen test. And when I read the pilot episode, I realized what they wanted to do with it. I thought this is the most extraordinary way to sort of distill humanity, to tell this story in this extraordinary landscape. But actually all it is, is just about what it is to be human, you know. And the story that really made me want to sort of take the role was not my character. It was Morgan. There's a story about the first human that [Rick] meets is this guy Morgan and his son. And I just got it. I just thought that that was such a bold and brave and unique way of telling this story.

PHOTOS: Hollywood backlot moments

"Mad Men" isn't quite as dark as "The Walking Dead," but what impresses me about your role is that we've seen you grow season by season probably more than any other character on that show.

Moss: I feel very lucky to have that particular female role on the show because of that, because I think that she's had this crazy arc and has grown up so much. Part of that is just by virtue of the fact that she's 20 in Season One, and she's, I don't know, 26 or 27 now, I guess. And I was 23 when we made the pilot, and now I'm 30. So for me, it's been really interesting to go through my own experiences and have that inform Peggy and often experience a crazy kind of mirror situation that happens with Peggy and me.

How do you connect, you're a modern girl, and Peggy's back in the '60s?

Moss: I never thought of it like that. I didn't care that she was a '60s girl. I wanted to play her like me, like a woman of any time because I think that there are things that she experiences and things that all the women on the show experience that we still experience today, maybe in varying degrees. So for me, what I connected to was that she was just a young woman.

Connie, you've been in two amazing shows where you've played strong, independent women. You are considered a role model. What is that position like?