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October 14, 2012

‘Walking Dead': Michonne actress Danai Gurira talks katana skills

Posted in: TV

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Danai Gurira as Michonne in “The Walking Dead.” (Gene Page/AMC)

The third season of AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” is just about to kick off, and one of the highlights of the upcoming run of episodes is sure to be the introduction into the ensemble of Danai Gurira’s Michonne. The defiant warrior woman is a favorite among fans of the Robert Kirkman comic book that inspired cable television’s highest-rated scripted drama, and actress and playwright Gurira was brimming with enthusiasm about landing the role during a recent visit to the show’s Georgia set.

Michonne, of course, is known for her skill with a katana, but Gurira was first introduced to the weapon after landing the part.

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“In grad school I’d done some broadsword training, but I’ll tell you right now, the broadsword is nothing compared to the katana,” Gurira said with a smile between takes. “I watched a little video of the broadsword being tested against the katana just in terms of little things that have to do with severing armor or whatever, and the katana was so much more bad-asser than the broadsword. The broadsword was useless almost – it was like, ‘Oh, you Brits, you failed. Japanese 1, Brits 0.’ It was like learning from scratch because it is not the same weapon.”

So how did she perfect her skills in order to wield the weapon with apparent ease? Training, training and some additional training.

“I worked with a sword master — he’s also a stunt man,” Gurira explained. “You just work very intensively. We just worked all the time.  She wasn’t trained in the bamboo forests of Japan. She figured it out, but there are aspects of even the way she’s portrayed in the comic book where there’s just a calm about how she utilizes it that I found very interesting.

“When I was watching samurai films, there was that same sort of focused calm, effective, efficient economical aspect to it that rung true to what I had seen of her on the page,” she added.

– Gina McIntyre

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