It’s the rise of The Governor in the land of the undead

ZOMBIE-NATOR: David Morrissey slips into the cunning and ruthless shoes of The Governor in the third instalment of The Walking Dead.

ZOMBIE-NATOR: David Morrissey slips into the cunning and ruthless shoes of The Governor in the third instalment of The Walking Dead.

Published Jan 24, 2013


The third instalment of the Emmy award-winning zombie fest series, The Walking Dead, features an |array of exciting and intriguing new characters. Among them is seasoned British actor David Morrissey as The Governor. Debashine Thangevelo found out how he feels about depicting the villainous comic book character…

I DON’T think David Morrissey imagined he would bag the role of The Governor – an immensely popular character with fans of The Walking Dead comic books – when he visited his friend in Los Angeles.

But that is exactly what came to pass.

He shares: “I came here to visit my friend in LA and while I was in LA, they said: ‘Do you fancy going up for this show?’ And I went up and they didn’t tell me what the character was, but they said it was a major character in the next season.

“Then I talked to my wife; my children are of an age now where travelling is easier than it was and we decided to go for it because I love this show. I love the idea of working with these people. That’s as far as it went.”

Having relocated to Atlanta to shoot the third instalment of The Walking Dead, he also had to get over his nerves the first day on set, but the friendliness of his co-stars and the crew saw that dissolve quickly enough.

Shedding light on his authoritative character’s penchant for the finer things in life, Morrissey says: “What The Governor has done is he’s created this oasis in the middle of this apocalypse, which is Woodbury, and it’s like a fortress, really. He’s slowly building a life there that has some sort of normality and certainly has comforts; it has hot water, it has food, it has clean clothing, it has structure.

“They have their own produce, things like that. Now, he’s managed to do that by a mixture of an iron fist and a kid glove. He has to rule with a strong sense of discipline. People have to stay within the rules of the community. But he also has a caring nature.”

When asked if he could contextualise what The Governor is like by comparing him to a real-life character, the actor reflects: “He’s an amalgamation of many people for me. My research for the role is all about leadership and reading about certain leaders and that sort of mixture of ruthlessness and caring. I think it’s that dichotomy in him that is interesting. But I have never thought of him in terms of just one person.”

As for whether working on this show is something of a childhood fantasy realised, the 47-year-old laughs: “All the time. Andrew (Lincoln), who plays the lead Rick Grimes, and I turn to each other and go: ‘How great is this?’

“There is an element of living out your fantasy. Not just those elements of shooting guns and driving fast cars, which is fantastic, but also the element of the quality of the writing, the general handling of the stories we get to tell.

“That’s when you really start pinching yourself. It’s challenging and I really love that and that’s what I like about it; there’s no complacency in what one’s doing and you get to do all the great other stuff as well.”

Interestingly, The Governor turns into a darker character as the series progresses and circumstances change.

He enlightens: “The Governor (on the show)… I don’t know if he has a short fuse, but he’s someone trying to survive in this world and if people threaten that security or act in foolish way that could endanger the community, then he acts.

“Of course, the more secure the community becomes, the more complacent the community becomes.

“So he has to slightly remind them of the danger they’re in, in order to keep the security of the place, to keep them thankful for what they have and that is achieved with a certain kind of leadership required in the world we live in.”

With the introduction of Danai Gurira as Michonne, who becomes a serious thorn in The Governor’s side, the third instalment goes full throttle on the action, drama and intrigue. Blood will be shed – and it isn’t from just the zombies.

• The third instalment of The Walking Dead continues of Fox (TopTV channel 110) on Tuesday, February 12 at 9.15pm.

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