The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and David Morrissey Talk the First Appearance of The Governor and More
Could you could talk a little bit about the character of Milton, the kind of doctor/scientist who’s doing the experiments with the zombies? It felt like this is a character that should definitely be there, especially since they all know that they’re infected. Is this a plot line that we’ll get to see a little bit more of?
Robert Kirkman: Oh absolutely. Milton is a really interesting character for us. He’s not necessarily a scientist per se, but he is a very intelligent individual who more than anyone else, is kind of looking around in this world saying, "You know, wait a minute, this is a problem that is not going away. Let’s do our due diligence to try and figure out a little bit more about these things and possibly a little bit better ways of handling them." And he’s come up with a lot of theories and as the season progresses we’re going to get to see a lot more of him, and also a lot more of some things that he’s come up with to try and help them survive and cope in this world. So I’m really looking forward to everybody seeing that stuff.
David Morrissey: Plus, I think the one thing that’s the real difference between the Governor and Rick is the Governor has built Woodbury. It’s given people time. They have time to think about the future in a different way to Rick’s group. Rick’s group seems to be just trying to get through the day; whereas the people in Woodbury have time to think about where we go from here. This is the start of something new and how we deal with that, and Milton, is very much part of that.
Woodbury is just fascinating, how it was introduced with the gardens and the flowers and the birds chirping. It was this idyllic place…and then later on we get the zombie heads in the aquarium. It feels kind of like a mirror to the Governor’s personality.
David Morrissey: Yes, maybe, but you walk out onto any suburban street in the US or the UK or anywhere and you never know what’s behind those drapes. So, I feel it’s reflective--it can be reflective of any community, and ourselves as well. But I like that the audience has a different relationship with the Governor than the other characters in the show. We get to see him in a personal place where the other characters don’t. So we as an audience have a relationship with him that nobody else has, and that’s what I really like about it.
The last episode was all about Woodbury? We didn’t jump back and forth to Rick and his crew. Why was that important that we spend the whole episode there?
Robert Kirkman: I think it really just shows how important this side of the story is for this season of "The Walking Dead". As we progress you’re going to see that Woodbury is almost featured as heavily as the prison cast and this is going to be a season of television where there are two camps. And those two camps are eventually going to interact to certain degrees that will be revealed later, but it’s very important to get to know these characters. And we also wanted to do something different. We’ve had two very successful seasons of this show and I’m very proud of the fact that for our third season we’re not going, "Hey we’re still in the woods killing zombies. Isn’t that cool? That’s what you guys all want, right?" We’re doing new things and going into new territory and the fact that we can have an episode like this and it be received well is a testament to how cool this show can be.
It took two seasons essentially to cover the first year of the comic and obviously both are two completely different animals. The next 36 issues are kind of the source for this season and maybe future seasons. How did you break it down?
Robert Kirkman: Well, that’s really just a matter of getting into the writer’s room with Glen Mazzara and the rest of the team of writers. We basically sit down and we go, "Okay, here’s the best stuff that happened in this era of comic book." And deciding how long we want those stories to be and what pieces of those stories we adapt. It’s really part of the process. And so once we have all of that kind of stuff mapped out and we know what we want to pick and choose from the comic book we just kind of sit down and craft our whole story for the television show based on things that happened in seasons one and two and different things that we want to do and new things that we want to throw into the mix. So, I guess you can say, "Oh, the first year of the comic was the first two seasons and the third season of the comic is going to be a different arrangement. It’s not going to be these 12 issues or these 15 issues. There’s going to be different things moved around in different order and it’s an adaptation. We’re going to be changing quite a bit but there will always be key things that are thrown in that the fans will be wanting to see.
How much of The Rise of the Governor was spoken between the two of you in developing this character or maybe more additional material that you haven’t even shared with readers of the comic or the novel as far as creating the TV version of the Governor?
David Morrissey: When I first met the writers that’s what we were talking about, a complex character. It was interesting when I first met everybody, I didn’t even know what the character was. I just knew it was a substantial character in a TV show that I loved, so I was very happy to be sitting there and going for it. But as it emerged who this character was I didn’t know either the writer of the Governor or the comic book at that time. I just knew seasons one and two which I loved. And Robert and the writers' outline of the characters was this very complex man who is a leader of the community in this very challenging world. And that is where it came out of for me. I didn’t read the comic Governor for a long time. I just stayed with The Rise of the Governor and that’s where the writers were coming from for that character as well. So for me it was just a very brief discussion and then the scripts arrived and I was overjoyed by the scripts.
With getting to see the aquarium at the end of the episode, how was it to see something that insane, that you created, brought to life on screen?
Robert Kirkman: Well, in regards to the fish tanks this is a question I get asked a lot and it’s extremely hard to answer just because I don’t really have any kind of frame of reference for how to describe it. All I can really say is it’s completely indescribable. To see Charlie Adlard’s drawings of those fish tanks that I wrote in a comic book eight years ago now coming to life and existing in three dimensions…and I can actually walk into a room and touch them…it’s very strange to think all of this stuff that we did. We were having fun. We were making a comic book. We never thought that this would spiral into this. And so it is sometimes strange to be on set surrounded by people dressed up like characters that you’ve been writing for years and walking through the prison and actually going into cells and locking yourself in and being like, "Wow, I’m totally in a cell from this prison. This is ridiculous." So it’s a very strange experience and I wish more people could experience it so that they could tell me how to describe it.