Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about Morgan’s stance against killing and whether he could take Rick in a fight.
Q: Episode 4 is all about Morgan. What was your first thought when you read the script?
A: I thought it was about time! [Laughs] Apart from “When are you coming back to the show?” the most asked question I get is “What happened to Morgan between “Clear” in Season 3 and his return in the Season 5 Finale?” It was weird, really, because as it turned out, we shot the episode out of sequence. So, the episode took on a slightly mythical nature with everyone on set guessing what was going to happen.
Q: What did the episode teach you about Morgan?
A: The thing that was most interesting to play and the thing that Scott [Gimple] brought to the episode was that he took Morgan to an even darker place before he comes back. I hadn’t expected that as part of the journey. I thought we would pick up from “Clear” and move forward, but – Scott being Scott – he took him someplace darker and then brought him forward.
Q: Morgan is against killing now. What do you think of his newfound perspective? Is it a good thing or a bad thing to think like that during an apocalypse?
A: I think we’re about to find out. What might be a good thing or bad thing for Morgan is not necessarily a good or bad thing for the group, or for the Alexandrians. Morgan’s challenge is to find out whether or not he can walk further down this road that he’s been put on and whether or not he can walk that road and still live among the others. That’s going to be the test.
Q: There has been a lot of “Us versus Them” so far in terms of Rick’s crew and the Alexandrians. Is it possible to truly merge two crews?
A: I think it is possible, but not necessarily in the way that people might expect. Some of the Alexandrians will find it impossible and some of Rick’s crew will find it very difficult, but hopefully, they’ll find a middle ground.
Q: Is there anything the Alexandrians can teach even though they have less experience in the outside world?
A: The Alexandrians have an innocence that the group has lost. It’s no bad thing if the group is reminded of that innocence. They’ve gotten to a point where they’re so single-minded about surviving and protecting themselves, and they’ve been out there. To a certain extent, the Alexandrians have a strange sense of security and ignorance from being behind the wall.
Q: We hear you trained in stick-fighting under martial artist Steven Ho, one of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What was that experience like?
A: It was fantastic. The thing I love most about my job is learning new skills. I’ve been able to do different things simply because the roles I play demand it. Michonne’s sword, Daryl’s crossbow and Rick’s Python are specific to the journeys that these characters have been on and Morgan’s staff has joined the rest of those. On one level, it’s a very passive weapon, but if it’s swung properly, it’s very deadly. Telling that story has been very exciting.
Q: With Morgan’s new stick-fighting expertise, do you think he could take Rick in a fight?
A: [Laughs] That’s a really interesting question! “I don’t know” is the easy way to answer that question, but it depends on what weapon Rick has and how close he is to Morgan. Rick has the advantage of being able to shoot Morgan from the other side of the room, but if Rick was swinging the stick against Morgan, I have no doubts whatsoever that Morgan would win. If they both had guns in their hands, I think Rick would probably come out the winner.
Q: Morgan has never been a part of a group before. Were you excited to get to work with the rest of the cast?
A: Returning to the show and getting to work with Andrew Lincoln again is an obvious attraction, but beyond that, seeing who Morgan is when standing next to Michonne, next to Daryl, next to Glenn, being introduced to Carol, continuing his very new relationship with Carl, and all the rest of the characters – that was the gig. Figuring out who this character is when he interacts with all the new and established characters on the show was what I was most excited about.
Q: Do you think it’d be better to be a part of a crew during a zombie apocalypse or go solo?
A: Morgan has only really had the experience of going solo, and when you think about it, despite the trials and tribulations he’s been through, he survived. His ability to go solo is there for all to see, but the price he’s paid may very well be more than other people can endure. Morgan finding out what he’s capable of among the group is going to be new to Morgan, new to me, and new to the fans.
Click here to read an interview with Austin Nichols (Spencer Monroe).
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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