Fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead — along with Andrea and Michonne — met the enigmatic figure known as “The Governor” this Sunday night. And with the character’s TV incarnation comes many questions. Like: Why is he different from the pages of Robert Kirkman’s comic book novels? What’s keeping the lights on the idyllic Woodbury he lords over? And what’s up with that creepy-ass man cave?
Kirkman and new cast member David Morrissey shed a bit of light on the dark stranger in a press conference call.
A MORE SEDUCTIVE GOVERNOR | If any fans of the comic-book series are a bit thrown by his TV personification, that is by design. Kirkman acknowledges that The Governor is “kind of the pinnacle of villains in that series… a devious, horrible, terrible human being [that] you absolutely love to hate.” But for the Walking Dead TV series, “We’re doing everything we can to add as much more nuance as possible. We’re accentuating the more politician side of the character, to show that he can be a lot more seductive than he ever was in the comic book series,” Kirkman explains. “And David Morrissey is doing a fantastic job of that.”
…BUT NOT BILL CLINTON-SEDUCTIVE! | Fielding one reporter’s suggestion that his character takes a verbal cue or two from a certain onetime Arkansas governor/former POTUS, Morrissey laughs heartily. “I listen to his audio books quite a lot…. But I wouldn’t be equating The Governor with Bill Clinton in any way! I have to say that right off the bat. There might be some vowels and syllables that are Clinton-like, but that’s as far as it goes.”
PAST IMPERFECT | Though readers of the comic book series know what sort of person The Governor was before he found his calling in Woodbury, AMC’s Walking Dead is known to tweak things to keep everyone guessing. Kirkman would only tell us, “His backstory is something that is very interesting, and there will be snippets of it revealed as we move forward.”
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS? | Similarly, the pulp version of The Governor had a niece named Penny who met with an… interesting… fate. Will she show up on the small screen? “I can’t really speak definitely as to whether or not Penny is going to be included on the show,” Kirkman hedges. “All I can say is to stay tuned and keep an eye out.”
HEADS UP! | So about that very final scene…. Morrissey describes The Governor’s secret room — the centerpiece of which is a wall of tanks containing severed, floating heads — as “his plaything, his man cave, a place where he goes [to] look into the deepest place inside himself. It’s a very special room to him.” And the message that the grim display sends? “That if you are gonna survive in this world, you better have a thick skin and be able to desensitize yourself to the things you’re go to see around you.” (Besides, goldfish die so easily.)
POWER TRIP NO. 1 | As you likely glimpsed in Sunday’s episode, “a lot of solar panels” situated throughout Woodbury are to credit for the community’s cushy confines, with heated water, light bulbs and such. But as Spider-Man oft taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. “The idea of the power source does come up,” Morrissey says. “There’s a whole ‘thing’ about that….”
POWER TRIP NO. 2 | Morrissey promises that the show will delve into the psychological makeup of his character “quite deeply” — though his proclivity to dispatch with empowered interlopers may be a simple matter of crowd control. “What he’s created there in that town is very idyllic, and it runs right through him. It’s about him. It works,” says the actor. “It’s a delicate balance that he’s creating, and he wants to choose the people who come in, and he wants to choose the people who go out.”