The iconic comic book bad guy made his long-anticipated debut in Sunday’s episode, “Walk With Me,” and we’d argue that star David Morrissey did the role justice. Morrissey and “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman held a conference call Monday to discuss the episode and explain the role the Governor will have in the series going forward.
“I think [‘Walk With Me’] really just showed how important this side of the story is in this season of ‘The Walking Dead,'” Kirkman said, adding that the town of Woodbury will feature as heavily as the prison and its residents this season. “It’s very important to get to know these characters, and we also wanted to do something different. … For our third season, we’re not like, ‘Hey, we’re still in the woods killing zombies.'”
It’s been clear from the start that Morrissey’s incarnation of the Governor is different than the one fans came to know and fear in Kirkman’s comics. As seen with his on-screen debut, this version is both seductive and political, and it’s easy to see how he won over his followers.
Kirkman said the Governor’s differences from his comic book counterpart is the result of an intentional decision to differentiate the two characters. While readers met the Governor at the peak of his villainy, Kirkman told the press this version has a few more layers.
“When it came time to adapt that character for the television show, we’re really doing everything we can to add as many nuances to that character as possible,” the writer said.
While it might not be much of a stretch to compare the Governor’s rule to that of a cult leader, Morrissey said it would be too easy to assume that’s the role the Governor plays in his community. Instead, Morrissey drew his inspiration for the character from political leaders.
“Any successful leader has to sort of know the people around them and how he can manipulate them, how he can trust them,” the actor said. “I think a bit it’s safe to say ‘cults’ because we all like to believe that we don’t live in that type of domain, whereas I think all of us are subject to certain types of leadership sort of mindfucks, really. … We are played with in that way in our societies whether we like it or not.”
In the last moments of “Walk With Me,” viewers were treated to a scene of the Governor in what Morrissey described as his “man cave,” gazing at fish tanks full of severed heads. It was a recreation of one of the more memorable the Governor scenes in the comics, and one Morrissey said creates an interesting relationship between fans at home and the character on the screen.
“What I like is, the audience has a different relationship with the Governor than the other characters on the show,” he said. “The audience knows the Governor better than anybody else because they see him in his private moments.”
While viewers were also reintroduced to Merle (Michael Rooker) during “Walk With Me,” they also met a new character named Milton who at first glance appears like he’ll act as Merle’s foil. Kirkman clarified that Milton isn’t a scientist, but said he is someone who has dedicated his post-apocalypse life to finding ways to survive the rise of the walkers.
“As this season progresses, we’re going to get to see a lot more of him, but also a lot more of something he’s come up with to help them survive and cope in this world,” Kirman said. “I’m really looking forward to everybody seeing that stuff.”
Morrissey added that the big difference between Rick’s group and the Governor’s is that, because of Woodbury, the followers of the Governor have time to feel secure and thus ponder the question of “where we go from here? This is the start of something new, and how do we deal with that.”
Fans have been speculating if we’ll meet Penny, a young relative of the Governor in the comics, ever since the Governor’s arc was announced. While Kirkman wouldn’t confirm that Penny would make an appearance, he did say that we will find out more of the Governor’s history going forward.
“His backstory is something that is very interesting — there will be snippets of it revealed as we go forward,” Kirkman said. “I think his story will kind of unfold as we tell things that are happening in the current time.”
He added that we also will get to know more about Michonne this season, as there is “quite a bit about her yet to be revealed.”
Speaking of Michonne, it turns out the Governor has his sights set on drawing her into his fold. It’s already pretty clear that Andrea is sold on the idea of Woodbury, but the Governor likes to bring as many capable people into his midst as possible.
“He can pinpoint those people,” Morrissey said. “I would say after last night’s episode also, as much as Andrea, he can also recognize in Michonne that she’s someone who could be very valuable to Woodbury as well. He doesn’t want the National Guard there, obviously, but he wants other people.”
Morrissey is clearly a welcome addition to the cast of “The Walking Dead,” and the actor — who has directed in the past — said that he would be up for helming an episode of the show in future seasons. In fact, he said he’d be up for doing pretty much whatever Kirkman or showrunner Glen Mazzara ask him to do.
“I just want to be part of this experience in any way,” Morrisey said with a laugh. “Anything they want me to do, I’m there.”