David Morrissey

Zombies beware: The Walking Dead is finally introducing the villainous Governor.

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But when David Morrissey makes his debut as Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) most formidable foe on Sunday, we'll meet a very different Governor — one who hasn't quite devolved into the sadistic killer fans of the graphic novels know. So who is the Governor? TVGuide.com sat down with Morrissey to find out about the man in charge of Walking Dead's new oasis, Woodbury. Plus: Get the scoop on how Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) fit into his world.

What kind of leader is the Governor?
David Morrissey:
He is somebody who has an iron fist and a kid glove and he rules like that. If he needs to come down hard on people he will, but he's also somebody who's not averse to putting his arm around someone to get the best out of them as well.

I think he's a good team person. Woodbury is everything to him when we meet him. It's a really wonderful place. It's a secure place. You can leave your door open, and the kids can go for a run outside, and that, in this world, is unheard of. Security is everything to him. So anybody who threatens that security will be really severely dealt with, and I think in this world, the danger from beyond the walls he's created is very real.

How does he differ from the Governor we know from the comics?
Morrissey: He differs massively. I think what happens in the comics is we get to meet the Governor later on in his genesis. He's fully formed, really. He's arrived at this sadistic person. My Governor isn't like that. We see him much earlier on. He's dealing with the problems of leadership, which are trying to keep people fed, and safe, and comfort them, provide things for his people. So he isn't the sadistic man that we see in the comic books. He's somebody who's ruthless and does terrible things, but he does them from a really important place. I think he can justify everything he does.

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What can you tell us about his first interaction with Andrea and Michonne?
Morrissey:
The first time I meet them they're in a terrible place. They've been outside for about eight months. They survived, which he is very impressed about. Michonne is a formidable person, she's an amazing warrior, and he recognizes that and he thinks that can be of value to him.

Andrea's ill, I mean, she's very ill. She's sick, and he helps her because he's not such a tough guy, is he? But they must be formidable people, the two of them, to have survived for eight months out there. He's not frightened by intelligence or strength; he likes that. He can bring them into the fold. He shows them around town. He's very proud of the town.

But it seems like he's always got an ulterior motive.
Morrissey: He always hedges his bets. To trust anybody in this world now is difficult because you will have been let down so much. So there's a real sense of siege around Woodbury, even though it's idyllic. His ulterior motives, I think, are things to be discovered by the audience as they go along.

We're going to see the Governor and Woodbury come into direct conflict with the prison. Does the Governor just decide, "Well, I want it. It's mine!"?
Morrissey: No, I think it's more to do with it's a practicality of what's going on. It's a very practical decision, as far as The Governor is concerned. Rick's community is a very strong community, so I think The Governor's going to deal with that. They're noisy neighbors. He has to deal with noisy neighbors.

How does the Governor feel coming across another strong leader?
Morrissey:
He feels complicated by it. He doesn't have an agenda there that he wants to do. He's waiting. I guess, in a way, he's goading the community to see what happens. He knows there's a bit of a hornet's nest with the prison and Rick. The season is about whether he kicks it or not.

Not only will the Governor have Andrea, but he also has Merle (Michael Rooker) from the original group.
Morrissey:
Was he ever a part of the group though? What The Governor loves about him is he's a complete maverick. He loves his brother, but he's a maverick himself. I think the Governor really likes that sense of him being quite volatile out-there. The Governor has put a lot of work in to get him to be part of this community and it's paying off.

How will the Governor utilize Merle considering they'll be up against a group he has inside knowledge of?
Morrissey: You always need people in your entourage who are strong and functional. He has another character called Milton, played by Dallas Roberts, who's much more of a cerebral scientist guy, who helps him work out Woodbury on a day-to-day basis, how to get oil, and stuff like that. Whereas Merle is much more direct. He's your policeman, if you like. He's the head of your security who doesn't shy away from the dirty jobs and that's how he uses him. He needs a diverse cabinet. He needs diverse people around him that can do certain things. He's good at delegating. That's what I like about him as a leader. He's not without turning around to people and saying, I don't know what to do. Here, what do you want to do? What's your advice to me? That's good. I think that's good leadership.

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From the outside, Woodbury looks like an oasis. Will Rick's group start to wonder if they would survive better with the Governor?
Morrissey:
There's a decision there to be made. There's one place, which, for all intents and purposes, is idyllic, and run beautifully, and has hot water and food and stuff, and that other place, which is crumbling. There is a choice there that has to be made, and it's not a choice that The Governor gives them lightly.

What's going to surprise people about the Governor?
Morrissey: I think Woodbury will surprise people. Woodbury is like a different show. What you've been used to seeing in Season 1 and 2 is this group of nomads battling the elements, being within a hair's breadth of danger all the time, wherever they are, whether it's in Atlanta, or a camp, or the farm, you know, it's always out-there. Whereas Woodbury is safe. I think it's safe. People are doing things that Rick's group hadn't done for a long time, and that is a strange world. We begin to see the cracks within that world, but it is a strange world to inhabit for this show. It's very different. So I think that will be a big surprise when they get to Woodbury.

The Governor had some dark turns in the comics. Will we see some of those elements?
Morrissey:
We see things that the Governor does which are similar to that. I don't feel that the show is slavish to the comic in any way.

But maybe not necessarily chopping off hands and raping people?
Morrissey: You'll have to wait and see.

Are you excited to meet the Governor?

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.