"The Walking Dead" Casts David Morrissey as The Governor

Ending speculation that stretches back to the show's October 2010 premiere, AMC has announced that veteran English actor David Morrissey will play The Governor in the third season of "The Walking Dead."

The ruthless dictator of Woodbury, Georgia, The Governor has emerged as a fan-favorite villain of the comic series, leading many fans to wonder when the character might appear in the television adaptation, and who would play him. Early discussion centered on actor Michael Rooker, whose racist meth addict Merle Dixon disappeared early in Season 1. But earlier this month, horror legend Tom Savini sparked a new round of rumors when he said Oscar nominee John Hawkes ("Deadwood," "Winter's Bone") was being pursued for the role; Hawkes' publicist quickly denied the claim.

The BAFTA-nominated Morrissey, who's probably best known to American audiences for his role in the "Doctor Who" episode "The Next Doctor," has starred in such films as "Nowhere Boy" and "The Other Boleyn Girl" and in such TV series as "State of Play," "Blackpool" and "Red Riding."

Production begins this spring in Atlanta on the 16-episode third season of "The Walking Dead." The second season continues Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.

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