EW: There’s that scene where he tries to get away in the truck but they come across those zombies stuck in the mud blocking the road. This is sort of a classic horror trope in which someone is trying to escape danger and they can’t, but what was so interesting about this scene is that in this case the danger he is trying to escape is within him. And this seems sort of symbolic of the fact that he can no longer run away from who he is and the choices he may have to make along the way.
MORRISSEY: Yeah, there’s that great book with the quote, “Wherever you go, there you are.” And I think what the Governor’s trying to do is run away from the thing inside himself, and he’ll never run away that. He’s trying to run away from responsibility. He’s trying to get away from the danger behind him, which is this camp falling apart. He’s trying to find safety, and, of course, he can’t find safety externally in the world of The Walking Dead. He’s got to find it internally. He gets to that point where he realizes that the only way that he can be truly safe and the only way he can make the people around him safe is if he takes control. You know, if you want a job done, do it yourself.
And that’s where he is with that, and he realizes when he drives away and he’s on that road and he comes against that wall of zombies — he could take another road, he could go somewhere else. But he knows that wherever he goes he will face that same scenario. What he has to do is go back and make himself secure. And all the time he knows that there is a safe place somewhere. And that’s the prison. He’s seen the place. He knows that it’s a place of sanctuary. He knows that that’s where they can live. So if he’s gonna go to that prison he’s gotta go back with some great negotiating tactics. So he goes back and he’ll take hold of the reins of that community and let’s see what happens in the next episode.
EW: We hear a lot about the various stages of despair and in these two episodes you’re basically playing this guy in some of these various stages. Was the biggest challenge for you in the pacing of those stages and letting us see this man first devolve and then evolve again into something else?
MORRISSEY: The writing has to lead you from emotion to emotion and I think the writing in both of those episodes was brilliant and gave me all the tools to work with. I think the main thing for me is that you believe that a man who has done terrible things can do good things as well. That you believe that a man who is a killer and a mass murderer can actually turn around and show loving feelings. And anybody who has studied any sort of psychology will tell you that is the truth of real life — that nobody is all good and nobody is all bad. That people do fight the bad sides of themselves and hope that the good sides win and that is a struggle people have in various degrees all the time. Everybody has that struggle. Some people have it more than others and with bigger things at stake. So that’s the thing for me, making sure each turn that the Governor makes is a believable turn and twist, so you don’t just suddenly go, “This is a different man and this is a different character,” but that it is all the same person. And an inner conflict is being registered.
EW: Registered by both him and us?
MORRISSEY: I think that the relationship that the Governor has which is really important and very unlike any other relationship he has in The Walking Dead is his relationship with the audience. The audience sees the man at his lowest and his meanest and his most vulnerable and his most loving. They see every aspect of him. And they have secrets about the Governor that no other character has. They might be secrets that are terrible secrets of destruction, but they might also be secrets of love and vulnerability. And only the audience has that relationship with him. That’s what I love about the character, that his relationship with the audience is total. Much more total than it is with any other character. What Rick feels about the Governor, what Lily feels about the Governor, what Michonne feels about the Governor — they only have that information via certain aspects of the man. The audience has their relationship knowing everything about the man and that’s very important.
EW: Well, I can’t wait to see what happens next as we ended this episode with the Governor pointing his gun at Michonne. You’re not going to tell me if you pull the trigger or not, are you?
For more ‘Walking Dead’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.