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Q&A – Danai Gurira (Michonne)

Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about Michonne’s chances with Daryl and her most enjoyable walker kill scene ever. 

Q: What was different for you playing Michonne this year?

A: Well, one of the things that’s really fun about Michonne is that she can be peeled back like an onion. It was really kind of interesting to allow walls to come down, and that does involve a whole different process. Seeing who that chick is, that was really fun.

Q: We see a lot of that peeling in the Mid-Season Premiere. Did you have any input into that?

A: Me and Scott [Gimple] have been conversing about this stuff for a while. He definitely had the lion’s share of it down. And it would concretize exactly what her story was. But it was really great because he had given a lot of understanding and thought to what her background was, and I materialized it.

Q: The dream sequence in Michonne’s apartment is memorable. Did you enjoy the chance to shoot a scene back in civilization?

A: Yeah, I got to be clean and pretty! That was great fun for all of us: great fun for Donna, the makeup artist; great fun for Taylor, who does hair. The more I read it and got into it, I’m like this is really deep and powerful. In her psyche, she’s so caught up on pushing down everything. And that’s what she does after she leaves the prison — she decides to go back to the old Michonne and that’s how she copes with pain and loss. But her conscious and her subconscious won’t let her do that anymore.

Q: There’s a great moment when Michonne blends in a with a crowd of walkers. Have you ever hidden in plain in sight before?

A: I’ve never really been blended in with a crowd of walkers before! But I live in New York City, and there are many times when you’re one in a million and everyone is doing their own things. So I did feel and have a connection.

Q: Someone put together a scowl-compilation for Michonne. What’s the secret to a great scowl?

A: I have no answer to that question! It was just how she was affected and who she was at that point in her journey, which was someone who was very untrusting, and someone who was a fighter. She was too protective of her world. If that was what came out of her body as I portrayed her, so be it! But it wasn’t something I was so focused on portraying or doing.

Q: Have you heard about “Dixonne” fans, who want to see Michonne and Daryl get together?

A: I only heard about that very recently through my sister. I’d mainly heard about the “Richonne,” so “Dixonne” was a new one. It’s cool. Of course we don’t really discuss amongst ourselves what’s happening with our characters, but it is obviously people seeing that there is a great connection that Daryl and Michonne have. So I get that people are seeing that, but whether or not it’s a romantic connection is another story.

Q: Michonne generates a lot of love from fans. Do you have any favorite tributes?

A: I get some really cool things at Comic-Con — posters that people have created. There’s this one that’s really cool with her flying through the air killing zombies. I got a little purse that has the Michonne from the comic book on it, and I have like fridge magents that have Michonne on them. Key rings. I guess the freakiest thing was a guy with a tattoo of my face on his leg! But that happens with a lot of us. Someone was showing Andy his tattoo of Rick on his leg, as well.

Q: Tell us about that epic kill scene in Episode 9. What part of that fight scene bears your mark?

A: I set up all those kills! So that was really fun. I’ve started to do my own choreography at times, so I had to come up with my own set of moves. For that scene, I created the choreography. I was only supposed to do like eight or ten kills, and then Greg just didn’t call cut so I just kept going. Every take, the first eight or ten kills was just me going without any specific setup that we’d done before. And the zombies just kind of came at me and accepted that I was going to kill them whichever way. So that was probably my most enjoyable zombie kill scene.

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