Monday, November 26, 2012

'Walking Dead' actors Morrissey, Gurira on Michonne and the Governor

Morrissey, Gurira. Copyright
How about a twofer for Walking Dead fans today? With all the crazy stuff happening this year, this is still the season of Michonne and The Governor. The two characters have brought so much to the table, along with some astounding scripts, that TWD is better than it has ever been.

Well, we've been lucky enough to catch up with Danai Gurira and David Morrissey, who play the characters, and we wanted to pass along their thoughts about joining AMC's zombie drama.

First up is an interview with the duo before the season premiere as they look forward to having fans see their take on Robert Kirkman's characters. Then there is a video interview at New York Comic Con, where they discuss settling into a spot on smash TV show.

It all happens after the jump...

-Aaron Sagers

Q: Danai, how was the adjustment to the katana? Did you enjoy taking that up?

DG: [laughs] Are you kidding me? Yeah, I lived with it. I'm sleeping in the same bed with it ... They gave me a great guy in L.A. I was working with, and had an amazing time. I broke into it, and it was hard. Different muscles started to cry that you didn't know existed until now. It's been great, and a continual process. And finding her [the character of Michonne], and what are her movements? She uses it very practically, and effectively, and efficiently, and economically. She's not trying to be flashy. So it's really finding that balance as well.

Q: David, can you discuss stepping into the role of such a famed character?

DM: I came to the show as a fan; I really loved the show. And when there was an opportunity of joining it, I was over the moon. It's just been great. I was really nervous before I arrived. I felt a lot of pressure before I started because I was inside my own head with it. Then I met the rest of the cast and crew, and that pressure went off me because they were all so welcoming.

Q: Have you read the comics? 

DG: Yeah, I've read quite a few of them. After I got hired, I got a whole slew of them. I got really addicted. The beauty of how this has all worked is the graphic novel is such an amazing, original piece of work. And the TV show is its own amazing, original piece of work. So, as we've seen, their adaptations are very free and they pull from the graphic novel in very specific ways you could never predict.

Q: The character is so visually different (from the comics), what did they tell you about why they chose to not give you the look of the comic?

DM: We didn't have that conversation, really. It was very much about, 'This is the character, and how we're going to do it, how we're going to interpret it.' So it was starting with what the writers came up with for the show, it wasn't about the iconic, classic look of the character in the comic book. So I think those decisions had been made before the casting happened. But once they cast me, they were very happy for me to look like this. Also, I think the spirit of the character is very much there. Whether the look isn't there, the psychotic side is there.

Q: Would you dread them saying they're going to add an eyepatch to your repetoire?

DM: You know what? With how the show goes on, I'm never surprised by anything. That's the beauty of it; as we get the scripts, we're as surprised as much anyone else. I don't think too far ahead of it, but I wouldn't be surprised with what they do with him. And you know people really care about the show, so anything they do is coming from a great place.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment to joining the show, whether it was the Atlanta weather or something else?

DG: When I came in, they go, 'you're going to have to deal with ticks.' I go, 'Noooo, I won't, I refuse to have to deal with ticks.' But, lo and behold, that is just going to be part of your reality in this job. It was an interesting adaptation at first. People are trying to make TV. Usually, it's glamming you up, but it's 'no, no, you need more shine, dirty nails, dirtier nails.' So it's very interesting. There's all sorts of different grime that you really have to start embracing. That's kind of refreshing, honestly."

DM: The other thing about coming into the third series, for us, is it's not like we watched the first two series and thought, 'Oh great, we're going to be walking into 'Downton Abbey. You sort of knew what it was by where it was. Things like that - the heat and ticks - they're tough but at least at the heart of it, you're telling a great story. You're loving it, you want to be there. So that's the bit you have to deal with. Sometimes you have to deal with the traffic in an inner city, or you have to deal with the rain in London. The work, at the bottom of the day, is what you love doing.

DG: I think it adds to it. I'm watching it and there's something so visceral. I was watching the first two seasons, and it's so visceral - that heat, and seeing how they're navigating this rush into rain. That's exactly what you literally are doing as you shoot - and you feel so alive. It's a character in itself.

Q: In the comic book, the characters are a little more "comic booky." How did you balance that on the show?

DM: Given the writing that's gone on in seasons one and two, they fit in a sense that the writers are writing for us in such a wonderful way. They gel into the spirit of the show; they are very much a part of this world. The important thing for an actor, you have the comic book and you read that - but our duty is to the scripts that land on our doorstep every time we go onto an episode. That's our character. Our characters are there, not in the comic book. It's up to us to sort of interpret those characters, not the other ones.