Interview extra

Lennie JamesFebruary 7, 2017

The Walking Dead
Lennie James in The Walking Dead

The comic-book zombie drama resumes its seventh series – but so far the run has proven controversial, testing the patience of many of the show’s fans by subjecting their favourite characters to unremitting cruelties. However, Lennie James, who plays Morgan, is unapologetic…

What can you say about what’s coming up in the second half of season seven?

You will be introduced to one, maybe two, new worlds. There are two or three major losses, and there’s a push towards war. Lines are being drawn as Rick’s group learns about the breadth of Negan’s dominion, and how far it spreads. And there’ll be some surprises about who ends up on which side of those lines.

A lot of viewers found last year’s run of episodes very gruelling.

I’ve got to give props to the show for being brave enough to do that and demand it off the fans, really. Some of the reactions to our first episode [in which Negan executed Glenn and Abraham] were absolutely understandable, but I also think the choices our storytellers took were the right ones. The arrival of Negan needed to be as brutal as it was, because he’s it for us as far as the big baddies go. It also forces us to have that argument about, ‘Are we just surviving, or are we going to try and live?’ If you have a world like Alexandria that has schools and music and lights and running water – that’s life, that’s living. But are we really going to have that based on the understanding that every human we meet, we kill? Is that how we’re going to do it?

How long can Morgan last in the show? SPOILER ALERT! The character gets killed off in the comics…
Why would you tell me that?! What if I wanted to remain ignorant of that? 

But what would you feel if the end came?

I know the show well enough to realise everybody dies. It’s an inevitable part of the process. At the moment I’m having a good time, so I hope Morgan hangs around for a bit. I’m enjoying myself – it’s a fantastic place to go to work, and it’s a fantastic group of people I’m working with. So, you know, I can do it for a minute or two more.

The last eight episodes have really concentrated on disparate groups of characters, haven’t they?
Yes. We’ve now got a lot of actors in the show, which meant this season there was a lot of time off, and everybody hated it.

Why?

Oh man!

Do you lose the pace a bit?

Yeah. I was having this conversation with Andy [Andrew Lincoln who plays Rick] and he said he just didn’t know what to do with himself. His head nearly exploded. Each time you come back to set, it’s like reintroducing yourself and starting all over again. This season, I’d come in for one episode, then have two off. It was a nightmare – I was spending too much time speaking in my own English accent, because I couldn’t be walking around all the time talking like Morgan. The other problem is you don’t get to see your mates. One of the big plusses of being on this gig is the really cool people who are on it with you. But you’re never in town at the same time. There are some people I never actually met until the wrap party. They’re coming up and going, ‘Hi, I played such-and-such,’ and I’m like, ‘No idea who you are whatsoever, but, you know, welcome to our show.’

Fox, Monday

Graham Kibble-White

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