The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and David Morrissey Talk the First Appearance of The Governor and More
Robert, it seems like everything you touch lately turns to gold. Thief of the Thieves has been a huge success and things are happening with that. Has that played into your writing at all in the back of your mind? Do you go, "Oh that would be a cool scene to see." Or are you able to compartmentalize the TV Kirkman and the comics Kirkman?
Robert Kirkman: Well, I like to think I’m not getting too fragmented as a human being. But yes, it's sometimes hard to manage it all. I try to keep my comic book writing separate so that I’m not constantly thinking, when I’m writing "The Walking Dead" scenes, "Oh, and that will be cool in the TV show" or "I should change it because it will work better in the TV show this way." The comic book existed for so long without the show. I do try to put the existence of the TV show out of my mind while I’m writing the comic just to try and maintain the purity of what it was before all of this stuff happened, which sometimes is a little bit difficult. But it’s something that I really try to maintain because it’s pretty important to me to make sure that the television show doesn’t change what I’ve been doing before because I think what I’ve been doing before facilitated the show existing, and I just don’t want to change that for any reason.
David, you’ve done a lot of British television. Did it prepare you for this?
David Morrissey: Yes, the basic playing a character is the same whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on. You create character in the same way, or certainly I do. But challenges are the same. For me, the real difference between doing American TV and British TV is the budgets. The budgets of "The Walking Dead" on RSTV is much more than on RSTV in the UK. Surprisingly, the one thing it doesn’t buy you is time. The time we have to shoot on RSTV is exactly the same but we have more cameras and there are bigger sets and things like there are more people to help us do it. So the infrastructure is more than the UK and that’s great. But as far as from an actor’s point of view, the character and how you get into the work is exactly the same. I don’t think there’s any difference there and I don’t think there’s any difference from an actor in any medium. You know you go into the theater and you go into film or you go into TV your approach to character and how you create character is exactly the same.
Are you going to account for the electricity which seems to be in good supply there in Woodbury…a little bit more than maybe the generator operating off of rare gasoline would supply. Are you going to get into the whys of that?
David Morrissey: Yes, I think you see that in the set there’s a lot of where we glide along and use a lot of solar panels there. But the idea of power source does come up yet. There’s a whole thing about it later on. So yes, keep watching for that.
We’ve seen that the Governor has issues with empowered interlopers like the National Guard. Are we going to get into the psychological makeup of why that is? Why he’s so hell-bent on being the authority?
David Morrissey: Yes, I think you’ll get into the psychological makeup of him quite deeply as we go along. But, I think anybody would know why it’s probably not a good idea to have a gang of soldiers coming into your community when you’re the person who wants to run it. I think that’s a very logical thing for me. What he’s created there in that town is very idyllic and it run rights through him, it’s about him. It works and people are very grateful for him. It’s a delicate balance that he’s creating there and he wants to choose the people who come in and he really wants to choose the people who go out. He doesn’t want anybody else making those decisions for him.
How is gender going to play a role in Woodbury? The Governor has kind of surrounded himself mostly by men and his kind of inner circle. And then he has these two women come in that intrigue him. Is there going to be something that’s played throughout the season about the Governor’s view of women and his expectations of gender?
David Morrissey: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that gets played out. At the end of last week’s episode you see that he sees these two women in his community who obviously have differences of opinions about the town. But I think he would like to think of himself as someone who could welcome both of them in and they would both be very valuable to Woodbury. It certainly does play out that sort of gender politics though.
Is the prospect of a traveling "The Walking Dead" experience something that you’ve toyed with especially on the convention circuit since everyone wants to experience part of the television show in person?
Robert Kirkman: Well, speaking of the complete sell out, I would be totally fine with something like that existing. But yes, we’re having a lot of fun with "The Walking Dead" Escape and the thing at Universal Horror Nights. But putting that stuff together is all possible but I wonder if it’s above my pay grade. I just don’t want to focus on that kind of stuff. If it happens it’s kind of cool, but I don’t know; we’ll see. It certainly seems like it would be a fun thing.
David, you’ve directed in the past. Would you be interested in taking on directing an episode of the show?
David Morrissey: Yes, I’ve been in that for seven months from the adventure on the set and I would make the tea in order to be on a set of "The Walking Dead." So whatever they wanted me to be I would be--I just want to be part of this experience in any way I can. So yes, directing it or making the coffee, drive the trucks, sew the costumes, whatever you want, it’s a show that’s a real trip to be on and I’m loving every part of it. And it’s a very tight-knit group of people down here and I’m very privileged to be part of it. So anything they want me to do I’m there.
Robert Kirkman: We were going to have you direct on season four; but now that we know we can just get you to make tea…
David Morrissey: You’ve not tasted my tea though.
With the success of this series and with the success of the Marvel Films has there been any inkling of you coming on to do some sort of Marvel Zombies project such as a video game or a short or a film of any kind?
Robert Kirkman: No, not at all. I mean I don’t know that there are any plans to do that but if there are I certainly haven’t heard from them. But, that’s a Marvel project controlled by Marvel and I’d certainly love to see something like that happen. It would be pretty cool. But I don’t know what level of involvement I would have in it if any if it were to happen; but who knows.
The Governor did some bad things but he’s not quite the despicable character that we know just yet. Was the decision to change the visual of the character from the comics to the TV show to help that play out a little longer?
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. I will say that the visual of the Governor isn’t necessarily the most important aspect of him. And to force an actor to have a certain kind of look only to match it to a comic book is 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 is more of an accident really. In the effort to find the best actors for the roles we kind of stumbled across people that fit the image of the comics. We cast David because of his talent not because of his specific looks. He’s a handsome guy though, don’t get me wrong.
David Morrissey: Not because of my mustache. But the important thing for me is that that the guy, when the people meet him for the first time, they’re not being tipped off in any way or they feel they have any other agenda within the fact that they are in a safe place…that this is a safe place and that’s the presentation he has gives them right off the bat…you are safe here. This is a good place. So that was the important. That’s where the start of the look came from. He was someone who looked strong, dependable, and he was a man with his community’s safety in mind.
Like Robert said, you look like a very nice guy and you play very nice, but you kind of have that concealed rage in your eyes; especially with that 'never say never' scene last week.
David Morrissey: Yes, like I said before I think it’s important that the audience watching the show have one relationship with the Governor and the characters in the show have a different relationship. I think the audience knows the Governor better than anybody else because they see him in his private moments. Not just looking at the heads, but the other moments that you have with him. And I think that’s important they have a strong opinion and relationship with him, much more than anybody else in the show.
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