ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

In a recent interview with the AV Club, The Walking Dead's David Morrissey sat down to discuss the motivations behind his seemingly nefarious character of The Governor.

In the interview, Morrissey discuses a wide range of issues, including how secretive he had to be about his return to Season 4, and also what it feels like to be hated by fans. However, perhaps his most interesting quotes came in relation to the true character of The Governor. It seems the one-eyed madman might not be as black-and-white as he seems. Check out the questions and answers below:

Of the different shades and sides the Governor has shown, which do you find the most compelling to play?

The interesting thing to me as the actor is that it's the whole package. He does things that are very, very questionable: At the end of season three, I think he went into a traumatic space—he went into a blackout and fired on his own people, and that's an unforgivable act. But to be able to then take him to a place contrary to that, a man who's behaving well and doing the best by people and falling in love with people—the fact that both those places are the same man, the challenge for the actor is making sure they're consistent in his head. Do you believe that the same man could behave in such opposite extremes? I believe you do with the Governor. No one is all wise; no one is all bad. It's so easy to put people into boxes and champion them or condemn them, but I think that everybody’s got a little of that together.

So what's the glue that keeps those parts together?

His desire to survive and protect the people he cares about. His moral decisions inside that are very questionable—what he will do in order to survive and what he will do in order to protect the people he loves. It's human nature. When you see ["Live Bait"], you see a man who's given up on humanity, and given up on himself. He just doesn't have the wherewithal to kill himself. He's a man who doesn't want human contact—he's isolating himself and punishing himself, really. And it's only until he gets a connection with that little girl—who reminds him of his daughter—and with this woman, that he finally starts awakening and wanting to care and wanting to protect them. And as soon as he wants to do that, and as soon as he engages in that, he's slightly lost. He knows he will do anything to keep these people alive, and that question of what is the "anything" he will do is where his moral code gets very, very muddy.

As an actor, how do you get into the headspace of a man convinced he's a born leader?

There's two things to that. The first: It has to be in the writing of the piece I'm in. You can't shoehorn those things into a bad piece of writing. What's been very good for me in my career is that I've worked with good writers. So what you're doing is you’re illuminating what's on the page. And I read a lot of books about leadership. I read a lot about cults: Jim Jones, David Koresh, people like that. But I also read a lot of political biographies, people like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Lincoln. All those things inform you about what it's like to be a leader.

Also, the interesting thing about the Governor is that even though it's a modern-day piece, he's a leader without Twitter and spin doctors—he's much more like leaders from bygone days who have to stand on a box and address 200 people in a marketplace. He’s much more of an orator—that's where his gift suddenly lies, this new situation where he can stand up, make a speech, and the populace will say, "I'm with this guy."

Head over to here to read the rest of the lengthy interview, but before you do, why not tell me what you think about The Governor? Is he really such a bad guy, or someone trying to survive in pretty challenging situations.

Let us know what you think below.


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