Five questions with David Morrissey of 'The Walking Dead'

Posted 7:17am on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013

David Morrissey

Here's how much David Morrissey, the English actor who plays the Governor on The Walking Dead, loves being part of AMC's hit zombie drama airing 8 p.m. Sundays. "I would make the tea in order to be on a Walking Dead set," he says. "Whatever they wanted me to be, I would be: making the coffee, drive the trucks, sew the costumes." Not that it's necessary for Morrissey to do those things. His performance as a charismatic, one-eyed villain on the show is more than enough. The Governor is the leader of the Woodbury community that's at war with our heroes, a group of zombie apocalypse survivors holed up in a prison. He's the kind of evil character that viewers love to hate. Which is Morrissey's saving grace, because he freely admits he can't cut it in any of those other jobs he mentioned. As he puts it, "You've not tasted my tea."

1 Did you have any preconceived ideas about the Governor when you were cast?

I didn't even know what the character was. I just knew it was a substantial character in a TV show that I loved. But as it emerged who this character was, from the writers' outline, this was a very complex man who is a leader of the community in this very challenging world. I didn't read the comic's Governor for a long time. Robert Kirkman [creator of The Walking Dead] wrote a wonderful book called Rise of the Governor. We're exploring the character where he leaves Rise of the Governor to the beginning of the comic book.

2 Were you inspired by any real-life leaders, perhaps a cult leader, in crafting your portrayal?

I looked into many ideas of leadership. Not just cults, but also standard leaders. I think that any successful leader has to be able to know the people around him and how he can manipulate them and whether he can mold them to his vision.

3 Your character monstrously kept zombie heads in an aquarium. But we also saw a tender side of him when he was caring for his zombie daughter. Do you think the Governor's enemies would sympathize with him if they could have seen that side of him?

The audience knows the Governor better than anybody else, because they see him in his private moments. I think it's important that the audience has one relationship with the Governor and the characters in the show have a different relationship.

4 Any significant difference between making a TV show in the U.K. versus making one here in the States?

The basic playing a character is the same whichever side of the Atlantic you're on. You create a character in the same way. Or certainly I do. The real difference is the budgets. It's much bigger here than in the U.K.

5 What do you think is the most important personality trait to surviving a zombie apocalypse?

If you're going to survive in this world, you'd better have a thick skin and be able to desensitize yourself to the things that you are going to see around you. I certainly think there's a sense of the Governor doing that.

-- David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram

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