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October 28, 2012

‘Walking Dead’: Glen Mazzara talks ‘long-term’ plan for The Governor

Posted in: TV

Laurie Holden as Andrea and David Morrissey as the Governor in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

The Governor (David Morrissey), left, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden) in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

Andrea (Laurie Holden), left, and the Governor (David Morrissey) in "The Walking Dead." (Gene Page / AMC)

In Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” the hit AMC series will finally arrive at a destination plenty of fans of Robert Kirkman’s comic book have been clamoring to see on screen: Woodbury. The idyllic Southern town isn’t quite as perfect as it seems, of course — it’s under the control of The Governor, the legendary bad guy who’ll be played by actor David Morrissey, and whose presence will surely spell trouble for Rick Grimes and the other survivors.

Speaking on the Georgia set of the show earlier this year, showrunner Glen Mazzara emphasized that the iteration of the Governor on the series will be more nuanced than his comic book counterpart, a monstrous villain who would force prisoners to battle zombies in an arena for sport, among other sins.

“We were looking for a talented actor who could play a lot of nuance,” Mazzara said of casting Morrissey, a Liverpool native best known for his turn in the British miniseries “State of Play” and the noir-inflected “Red Riding” murder mystery film trilogy. “We didn’t want just an archvillain, someone who’s just going to be a mustache-twirling sadist. David’s a very versatile accomplished actor, he’s a total gentleman. What was great was he really was very open to our approach to the character. He was interested in playing this character with some humanity but not shying away from playing a character that develops into a brutal dictator eventually.”

“He does need to have a complexity,” Morrissey added in a separate interview. “If he was just an out and out baddie, I think you would hit a ceiling creatively very quickly. I think giving him these levels and colors and fears, hopefully that will give him more longevity.”

That notion of longevity is an interesting one — and might well mean that the Governor could go in a very different direction from what he did in Kirkman’s original text.

“The Governor in our show has an arc, hopefully a long-term arc,” Mazzara said. “He begins in one place and goes through, like any thought-out character, ups and downs and developments and back steps and all of that. Our Governor is not just a full formed villain who is hiding that fact. He is more complicated than that. There are things that he’ll eventually do that he may not do immediately; there are things that he may do immediately that he realizes don’t work.

“What’s important to understand in this character, he sees himself on a historical stage,” Mazzara added. “That’s really how we look at that character. David’s interested in that. Sometimes you try to cast someone, you might feel they’re not fully committed to playing a villain. He’s fully committed to playing a layered complex character.”

Click through the gallery above to see scenes from Sunday’s episode.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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