Walking Dead executive producer and comic book creator Robert Kirkman along with series star David Morrissey recently chatted with press about Season 3 and about the introduction of the highly anticipated new character – The Governor. From deciding who the Governor can and can’t trust to what lies ahead for his character this season, Kirkman and Morrissey gave us as many details as they could! Check out the interview below!
Robert, can you talk about the merging of the Governor from the book and then what we’re seeing on the show, and how those two versions of the characters have come together?
Robert Kirkman: Sure. I think that people that are familiar with the comic book governor know that, you know, he’s kind of the pinnacle of villains in that series and, you know, is really just kind of a devious, horrible, you know, terrible human being. He’s a villain that you absolutely love to hate. When it came time to adapt that character into the television show, we’re really doing everything we can to try and add as much more nuance into that character as possible.
And so, we’re accentuating the, you know, more politician side of the character. We’re trying to, show that he can be a lot more seductive than he ever was in the comic book series. And I think that, you know, David Morrissey is doing a fantastic job with that.
It seems like the Governor trusts some people, maybe not others and maybe has his own criteria of maybe who can be helpful… He’s definitely intrigued by Andrea. Can you talk about that criteria for him if it’s something we’re going to find out like what that is for him and how he decides?
David Morrissey: Yes, I think, you know, any leader of a community knows that certain people have to do certain jobs. You know they have to do certain functions within the community for the community to exist successfully so you can pinpoint those people. I would say after last night’s episode also it’s not just Andrea I think he can recognize in the show and that she’s someone who’s very valued and could be very valuable to Woodbury as well, you know.
He doesn’t want the National Guard there obviously but he wants other people there who can help out and, you know, not challenge him and his authority but can work in this sort of structure that he’s laid down. And I think what we explore is Robert wrote a wonderful book called the “The Rise of the Governor,” and the Governor appears in the comic books and it’s the time in between those two books really is where we’re exploring the character where he leaves from “The Rise of the Governor” to the beginning of the comic book. So this space in between those two books that we’re exploring.
You’re taking this character to almost a cult leader status with how he’s got these people wrapped around his finger. Especially lwith Merle he’s sort of molding him into a weapon in a way. Did you look into figures like say Jim Jones, to build upon that as a jumping off point from “Rise of the Governor?”
David Morrissey: Yes, I looked into many ideas of leadership not just cults in that way but also in, standard leaders that we have ourselves. I think any leader – any successful leader has to be able to sort of know the people around him and how he can manipulate them and how he can trust them, whether he can sort of mold them to his vision, you know.
I think also any good leader cannot be frightened as people who are strong around him, both mentally and physically. You know he has to know that those people can go off and serve him in a good way. So, yes, there’s an idea of looking at cultish leaders but I think it’s a bit safe to say to say cults because we all like to believe that we don’t live in that type of sort of domain. Whereas, I think all of us are subject to certain types of leadership sort of mind funk really.
You know there’s essential leaders play with us. We are played with in that way in our societies whether we like it or not is how we’re manipulated by our own meters. So I wouldn’t want you to feel too safe with the idea of a cult because I think some of the tactics that the Governor comes up with are tactics that are used in every day parlance all of the time.
In last week’s episode we got to see quite a few zombie and human kills from you. So I was wondering what you did to prepare for the physical aspects of the role? And do you enjoy jumping right into this world and taking part in those action scenes just as much as the character acting?
David Morrissey: Yes, I mean that’s the great thing for me about joining the show is that you, you know, do get to jump straight into this world to create the world so brilliantly. And that’s not just actors do that but also, you know, Greg Nicotero and his team create those great zombies and the people who come in and play them. You know they are totally committed to their work and that really adds that for me; you know it just creates the world brilliantly for me.
Physically I just it’s just a case of, you know, it was the heat took me slightly by surprise down here in Georgia but we’ve been able to cope with that. And I think the conditions that we work in add to the show. You know it’s very hot; it’s very buggy, there’s snakes and ticks and chiggers and all sorts down here. But that sort of – that’s the world that my character would be living in and so that’s the world that I inhabit as well. So it’s a challenging environment but it adds to the show and I love it.
Can you talk a bit about your weapon training for the series?
David Morrissey: I mean I’ve shot guns many times. I’ve done – I did a whole summer of BSAS in the gulf so shooting guns – hand guns are a little different but I’ve done that in the past as well. So weapons training there’s a great guy on the set that does all of that for us and we often go down to the shooting range and get some weapons that require different disciplines. But yes, I mean safety is paramount all of the time of course.
But yes it’s really the whole world is one that’s heightened violence type of world when your defending yourself against this enemy. So but that’s all fun for me. I think in the next episode the weapons are different for me so you should see that now.
Robert, obviously the Governor here is very secretive. Are you going to be getting into it all who he was prior to all of this? Will you be folding in any of the Penny story line from the books?
Robert Kirkman: Well, I can’t really speak definitively as to whether or not Penny is going to be included on the show. All I can really say, is make sure that you stay tuned and keep an eye out for that kind of stuff. But you know I will say that his back story is something that, you know, is very interesting and there will be snippets of it revealed as we move forward. So I think that his story will kind of unfold as we tell things that are, you know, happening in the current time.
The Governor did some bad things in the comic, but he’s not quite the despicable character that we know just yet. Was kind of the decision to change the visual of the character from the comics to the TV show to help that play out a little longer at all?
Robert Kirkman: Well, I was wholeheartedly supporting the idea of getting David Morrissey to have plastic surgery so that he would look more like the comic strip but he was oddly extremely against it; so that was frustrating. But, you know, I’ll let David jump in here in a minute but I will say that the visual of the Governor isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of him. And, you know, to force an actor to have a certain kind of look only to match it to a comic book I think is somewhat, you know, not necessarily the kind of thing we would do.
Despite the fact that we do have characters in the show that look remarkably like they did in the comic which, you know, is really just kind of a – it’s more of an accident really. You know in the effort to find the best actors for the roles we just really kind of stumble across people that fit the image of the comics. But I mean, we cast David because of his talent not because of his, you know, specific looks. He’s a handsome guy though; don’t get me wrong.