Entertainment Television

David Morrissey brings 'The Walking Dead' Governor to life

Fans of AMC's "The Walking Dead" have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a major villain from Robert Kirkman's graphic novels. On Sunday, the Governor finally makes his debut, but don't expect a mustache-twirling, cartoonish baddie.

"He's quite complex," actor David Morrissey told me outside the press room at San Diego Comic Con in July. "Tough times call for tough decisions and tough people, and he's a tough one. He's building a secure community that has certain rules and he'll enforce them."

In "Walk With Me," airing at 8 p.m. Oct. 28, the Governor and his men bring Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) to their enclave of Woodbury, but neither woman trusts him immediately. That's probably wise. "Whoever he's with, he's playing that game," Morrissey said. "He's very devious."

Morrissey talked more about taking on the iconic role during a roundtable interview with a group of reporters.

The Governor is a highly anticipated character. What were your feelings creating the role?
I was a big fan of the show. I've known Andy [Lincoln] for a long time so I watched the show with interest and fell in love with it. And also in the pilot was another great friend of mine, Lennie James, who plays Morgan. ... I just loved it. I think it's a real grown-up show. It's got at its heart that sense of human survival and what we would do in that situation. So it was great.

Joining has been a blast; I've loved every minute of it. I was very nervous before we started, but I have to say I always am though. I always feel that sense of responsibility walking into any job. I knew this had a big fan base so that was a little different. But the minute I walked on set that was all gone. I just had to do my job and I was welcomed by the cast and crew, who are fantastic. ... It's a great show to be on.

Were you aware how loathed the Governor is?
Yeah, but I'm good with "loathed." [Laughs.] I think you don't ignore him; that's the good thing. He's a great character. You're taking the spirit of the book and putting it up there onscreen. I think sometimes the devil gets all the best tunes, so it's fun. I'm just enjoying being him. There's a complexity to him as well. I think for me reading Robert's book, which is fantastic, which is "The Rise of the Governor." It's a great book. That's very much the person I'm playing.

Aside from reading "The Rise of the Governor," what else did you do to reach for that deep evil?
For me it was looking at what man has been through in the past. There's a book called "The Black Death and the Transformation of the West" that's all about the plague in the 1300s, which is a great read and really very prescient to the world [our characters] live in. There's a book called "The Things They Carry" by Tim O'Brien, which is all about Vietnam and the hell that those guys went through. Human nature, life being in a hellish condition, there are a lot of places out there that one can grab hold of for inspiration. I read a lot of that. "1984" is a great book to read about human psychology and how we sort of suppress people.

But the thing I did was read the scripts they delivered to me, that was the best thing. [Laughs.] When they started coming in I was like, "This is fantastic." We have a great writing team and they do all that work for you ...

Are Merle Dixon and the Governor pals?
You're going to have to wait and see. That's the one answer I have prepared. [Laughs.] You'll just have to watch.

Do you appreciate that you're not the only Brit on the cast?
I do appreciate that, yeah. ... But I've worked all over the world and actors, they tend to look after each other. It was really great coming in and everybody just sort of looked after me. There's been a lot of solidarity from the actors, and not just because of what country they come from. And the crew and the producers have been part of that as wel

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