David Morrissey talks The Govenor's backstory and acting with an eye patch
The Walking Dead returns from hiatus Sunday night at 9 p.m. and we’re all eagerly anticipating what the writers have up their sleeves for the second half of the season. When we last left the zombified world, The Governor just saw his zombie daughter Penny killed in front of his eyes, had his own eye stabbed with a piece of glass and was about to force brothers, Merle and Daryl, to fight to the death in Woodbury’s makeshift arena. MSN caught up with David Morrissey who plays The Governor to chat about the character, the second half of the third season, and acting with an eye patch.
Will we see more of the Governor’s backstory from the novel Rise of The Governor in the second half of the season?
You won’t see it, but things will be revealed. We don’t work in the world of flashbacks. There are no scenes that suddenly perpetuate you back into a time before the event. You see more of him, and more of the reason why he is like he is. That’s important to me. Seeing a man and the reasons why he’s behaving in the way that he is.
One of the reasons he’ll be behaving the way he does in the second half of the season is seeing his daughter killed before his eyes in the fall finale. How did you prepare for that scene?
For me that scene was the heart and soul of him. I think what’s interesting about The Governor is that he lost his wife before the zombie apocalypse. His wife died in a car crash. So I imagine when that happened to that man, any father would have to sit down with his child and try to explain that, and try to explain that loss, and get through that loss with his child. I can imagine someone saying at a point, “It’s you and I now, darling. Daddy’s going to look after you now. Nothing bad is going to happen to you.” She can help her at a time of grief, and he can help her. There’s a bonding between father and child because of that tragedy. When this terrible thing happens, and she becomes a walker, he’s not going to give her up. She’s still his daughter. He’s made promises to this girl. He’s talked about the future with her. He’s promised that he would never let her go. That’s the promise he’s trying to fulfill when he’s combing her hair, or singing her lullabies. It’s tragic for him. When she’s absolutely taken away from him in such a brutal way, he’s in trauma. I think part of where we are going in the season, is seeing a man who is really in a terrible, traumatic situation. The little bit of humanity that he had is closing down very rapidly. He’s angry of the world, and wants revenge for what the world has done to him. From a psychological point of view, that really makes sense to me. We see that a lot. People want payback for what the world has done to them. Whether it’s real or imagined. That’s a very dangerous person. The most dangerous person is someone who has nothing to lose. If Andrea, and Merle don’t grab hold of him and remind him of what his humanity was, he can become a very dangerous man, very quickly. He’s lost it.
And his eye for that matter. How was getting used to acting with an eye patch on?
That was quite strange! It took me by surprise. I just thought, “OK. That’ll be fine. I can do that.” What it does is gives you headaches, and it also gives you completely different sensory perception. You lose your depth of field. Also, he’s not living in the middle of Beverly Hills, so he’s not going to get some nice eye surgery. He’s going to wear that scar. He’s a marked man. It’s something he’s carrying as a badge of honour. That’s who he is. The world has done this to me. This is who I am. It’s a medieval thing that you wear your scars proudly, and that’s who you are. Also just the fact that he has a scar, all it means is that he’s still alive. A scar in this world is about being alive or being dead. He’s still alive. That’s very important for him. He’s still alive and the person who attacked him is still alive. That’s where he’s going to go.
He’ll certainly want revenge on Michonne, but there’s also the impending showdown with Rick and his group.
I think definitely the stars are aligned for these two communities to come on some sort of collision course. I think how you get there is very surprising. I think the thing that’s really good about this season is, so far the similarities between Rick and The Governor, are quite apparent. Rick spent a lot of Season 2 debating whether to kill a man. Whereas, in Season 3, he kills someone in the blink of an eye, very quickly. He just throws him out to the walkers. It’s a different man we’re seeing now. The world is brutalizing these people. When Michonne turns up at the prison, Rick doesn’t open up the gates and make her a cup of tea, he absolutely beats the sh*t out of her, and wants to know what’s going on. He’s a product of the world he lives in. So are all these people. There’s an element of nice guys come in second. It’s got to get brutalized. I think going forward, the idea that these two communities are on a collision course, how we play with it in the second half of the season is quite surprising rather than, “Let’s go to war.” There are other levels to it to be played out.
Given the way the comic goes, you know the end is near for The Governor, are you dreading the day that script gets delivered?
I think one of the great things about the show is that no one is safe. It’s not a show that is frightened about killing off its big character and you’ve seen that with Shane and Laurie. It’s not a show where you have the Star Trek moments of three of the lead actors go out, and there’s one guy you’ve never seen before, and you think, “I don’t think he’s going to make it back to the Enterprise.” From an audience point of view, it’s that nobody is safe. I love the show, and I love being on it. I want to live as long as possible. All of the actors, all of us are aware, like life, that days are a ticking clock. The next script that gets delivered, we might be the one. I think that gives it, particularly from an audience point of view, it gives a reality. In a show that’s pitched in such a heightened world, the reality that we go through is very strong. One of the realities is that no one is safe. You can’t look at an actor and think, “They’re never going to kill him of.” They might.
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