Melissa Suzanne McBride (born May 23, 1965) is an American actress and former casting director best known for her role as Carol Peletier on The Walking Dead, an AMC television horrordrama series (2010-present). McBride began her television and movie acting career in the 1990s, and in the 2000s worked as a casting director. She has been nominated for and has won multiple awards for her work on The Walking Dead.
McBride began her acting career in 1991, appearing in several television commercials for clients such as Rooms To Go as well as being a spokeswoman for Ford. She made her series television debut in a 1993 episode of ABC legal drama series Matlock. She later guest starred in several other television drama series, including In the Heat of the Night; American Gothic; Profiler; Walker, Texas Ranger; and Dawson's Creek. In the latter, she played Nina – a film buff who charms Dawson after his breakup with Jen – in the season one episode "Road Trip" in 1998, and in 2003 returned to show in the series finale playing a different character.
In the 1990s, McBride had supporting roles in several made-for-television movies, such as Her Deadly Rival (1995) opposite Annie Potts and Harry Hamlin, Close to Danger (1997) with Rob Estes, Any Place But Home (1997) and Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999). In 1996, she appeared on the CBS miniseries A Season in Purgatory, based on 1993 novel by Dominick Dunne with the same name. She worked as a film and commercial casting director in Atlanta, Georgia, from 2000 until 2010. She also starred in several short films during this time. In 2007, director Frank Darabont cast McBride as the "woman with the kids at home" in the ensemble-cast science-fiction horror film The Mist, alongside Thomas Jane, Laurie Holden and Marcia Gay Harden. She was in contention for a bigger role in the film but didn't want to take a significant amount of time away from her job as a casting director. The following year, she appeared in the Lifetime television movie Living Proof.
McBride's earlier relationship with Darabont led him to cast her as Carol Peletier in the AMC television drama series The Walking Dead – her biggest role to date. Peletier is a middle-aged widow and caring mother to daughter Sophia, fighting to survive in a violent apocalyptic world populated with flesh-eating zombies and the few surviving humans, some of whom are even more diabolical and dangerous than the zombies themselves. McBride did not audition for role, which she thought was temporary. She was a recurring cast member in the first season and promoted to series regular for season 2. McBride's name appeared in the opening credits sequence beginning with the first episode of season 4. Carol Peletier was supposed to have been killed off in the episode "Killer Within", but the producers eventually decided against it.
McBride at 2012 Season 3 premiere of The Walking Dead
As the series progresses, McBride's character develops from a weak and dependent woman into a strong, loyal warrior. The direction of her character is contrasted between the two mediums. In the comic series, Carol is much younger and exhibits a neurotic, self-centered, and naive demeanor. Throughout her time in the comics, she grows increasingly unstable to the point of being self-destructive. The television show differs in these regards, as she is shown to be a stern, pragmatic, and compassionate individual who has been gradually building inner strength. Producers of the series, Scott M. Gimple and Robert Kirkman, said in 2014 that "Carol is her own unique character; it would be a disservice to Melissa McBride to say she's evolved into the Carol from comics. The Carol in the TV show is a wholly original creation that we'll continue to explore on the show to great effect. Everyone in writers' room loves that character, and we're thrilled with what Melissa has brought to the table. She has definitely become a character that is one to watch, and there's some really exciting stuff ahead for her."