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'The Walking Dead' actor Norman Reedus' biggest piece of advice: Roll with rejection

Most people know Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, the crossbow-wielding survivalist on the hit zombie show "The Walking Dead."

But for most of his life, he was a struggling actor chasing a wild dream.

The filmmaker and actor has played dozens of gritty roles during the past decade and even worked as a model for brands such as Prada and Gap before landing breakout roles in "The Boondock Saints" and "Blade II."

"I mean, I've lived off $12 a month for probably a good portion of my life," Reedus told CNBC. "If it's something you really want, you have to roll with the rejection."

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon on "The Walking Dead"
Gene Page | AMC
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon on "The Walking Dead"

In fact, rejection has helped shaped who he is.

"I remember a long time ago I auditioned for something, and the casting person said, "Can you do it again but try to be better looking, like that guy from 'Lost'?" he said.

"I went, and I looked up "Lost," and I was like, 'There's no way I'm going to be better looking than that guy from 'Lost,'" he said.

"You just kind of have to realize it's cool to be you." -Norman Reedus, actor

Reedus learned a valuable lesson from that encounter.

"You just kind of have to realize it's cool to be you, and just try to be the best you," he said.

Video by Jeff Morganteen