There are only two episodes of The Walking Dead left this season, and with the survivors divided since The Governor’s attack on the prison, they are all now heading in the direction of the mysterious Terminus. After all, “Those who arrive, survive.” Following some very tough to watch episodes focusing on the likes of Maggie, Daryl, Beth, Carol and Tyreese, fans are of course hoping that Rick, Michonne and Carl will step back into the spotlight in time for the finale.
That is just one of the many questions we put to the actress who plays Michonne, Danai Gurira, when we recently had the chance to speak to her about playing the character created by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard in the hugely popular small screen adaptation of the comic book series. However, what you may not know is that Gurira is also an award-winning playwright, so we made sure to also find out what she has planned over the next year or so in that realm as well.
The Walking Dead airs every Monday at 9pm on FOX, just one day after it debuts in the US on AMC. Many thanks to Danai for taking the time to talk to us about her role as Michonne.
HeyUGuys: I wanted to kick off by asking you if you could tell us what’s in store for Michonne in the final two episodes?
Danai Gurira: Now, you know I can’t tell you that!
Anything at all, any small clues?
Michonne is with Rick and Carl and they’re walking to Terminus, so we’ll see what happens… [Laughs]
What’s it been like for you to work so closely with Andrew Lincoln and Chandler Riggs in the last few episodes?
It’s awesome! I love those guys. It’s amazing, it’s fantastic, it’s thrilling; they’re really wonderful. I couldn’t have better playmates!
Well, I didn’t mind the prison. I don’t miss it necessarily, but I never minded it. Michonne was always out and about anyway. She wasn’t in the prison that much, so you know, it is cool to sort of experience this whole new adventure. That’s really interesting and the fact that the prison is a place they cannot return to is a very interesting, exciting premise.
What’s it been like for you to explore some of Michonne’s tragic past this season?
It was great to get to do that. I really enjoyed it and I felt really fortunate to be able to see a character through like that. From the point of really allowing the audience to see what had made her so shut down and what had made her so emotionally unavailable in the beginning. It was really cool.
How do you feel about the way things played out between Michonne and The Governor in the midseason finale? Do you feel that it was right for her to be the one to take him out?
Absolutely! It was really was just Michonne being a woman of her word. She told him she was gonna kill him, and she did. But it was also something she had been wanting to do for a very long time, and at this point – as she told Tyreese back in episode four – it wasn’t because she was trying to be some big, angry, vengeful person. It was just because it was something which needed to be done. He just needed to be removed so that people could not have to be scared of this man who could not do good, and no matter how many chances he was given under the sun, he could just not do good! It was time to get rid of that threat to the people she cared about.
In the comics, Rick and Andrea go on to become a couple. However, with Andrea no longer being around, would you be interested in the show taking things in that direction with Rick and Michonne?
Would I be interested? You are funny! [Laughs] You know, that’s a really interesting question and I’ll give you props for how you worded that. I will say that, you know, we’ll see what happens. Michonne has great respect for Rick and she feels she gets him. She trusts him. That’s as far as I’ll say…
Have there been any talks otherwise about what might be in store for season five?
Well, we’ve only just finished shooting this season so they’re working on season five and we’re all going to have to wait and see what it has in store! You have to get to the end of season four first, because who knows what happens?
It seems like no one is safe on The Walking Dead, but do you think they would ever dare to kill off Michonne?
[Laughs] You just said it! No one is safe on The Walking Dead.
What makes Michonne so special to you as an actress?
She’s pushed me. She’s pushed me physically because I never imagined doing the sort of things that Michonne makes me do. You’re dealing with a character who has shut down emotionally, and that’s fascinating to play. She definitely has challenged me in every possible way; physically, emotionally…mentally. There are ways that she thinks that I don’t think. She always expects to win everything she does. She anticipates something and steps into it and also has insanely sharp instincts. In the beginning, she was also very obscure. She wouldn’t share with people. I made up a word and called her an “Obscuricist” because she was so obscure. She wouldn’t share facts, she wouldn’t be openly communicative and that’s very different from me because I’ll tell you everything. She definitely was a different chick from me and I thought it was very fascinating to play someone who’s wired very differently to me, but also there are things where we’re similar. We’re both kind of tough chicks, but she’s a lot tougher than me! [Laughs]
Do you keep up to date with the comic books, and if so, is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to seeing or doing?
I do have an idea of what the comic books are up to, but honestly, I don’t read them deeply because they are so visceral and vivid that sometimes I get confused about which stories I’m telling! They are very interesting in how they extract stories and threads from the comic books, so you can never really get too attached because you never know how they’re going to thread it through. They threaded those twin boys through these little girls that we just saw this past Sunday. You never know how it’s going to go down.
Oh, there’s been a lot of moments that I’ve really enjoyed! I really enjoyed shooting the whole of episode twelve – “Clear” – last year where Michonne goes off with Rick and Carl and they meet Morgan. That was a really enjoyable episode to shoot. I’ve enjoyed so many things that it’s hard to put a finger on it. I totally enjoyed shooting the episode just now with the dream sequence and the whole scene in the field with those zombies. That was probably one of my most enjoyable moments shooting because it was an unpredictable scene that was supposed to be just eight zombie kills that turned into twenty three. My wonderful director and also the head of special effects make-up Greg Nicotero decided to just let me go and didn’t call cut, so I just got to keep going and found a whole different scene to what we thought it was going to be, so that was a very special scene to shoot for that reason.
How has it been for you to see Michonne become so incredibly popular since you took on the role?
It’s exciting. It’s more than I ever thought it would be or that I dreamt or imagined. It really has been a really exciting thing and I’m very thankful for the response. I’m thankful that people enjoy her and I love the fan-art that I receive. It’s really special. It’s been amazing!
If when you do finally finish your time on the series, what would you try and take with you from the set?
My katana, obviously! Although I do love my vest and my gloves, so I’d have to take three things away!
There are obviously a lot of other comic books currently being adapted for film and television, so do you think you would be interested in a superhero role down the line?
[Laughs] It all depends! I’m not against that, but it would really depend on exactly what and who. It’s all in the details, but it’s not something I would shun.
It’s been in the news this week that you’ve written a new play which is coming next year. What can you tell us about that?
It’s called Familar and it’s commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre and so it will be there next season. We go into rehearsals in September and right now I’m doing some rewrites and we’re doing a lot of workshops and readings and all that fun stuff as we head towards the first rehearsal date. It’s about a family that live in the Midwest of the United States and on the weekend of the eldest daughter’s wedding, there are some cultural clashes and family clashes which happen overs this weekend. Definitely a lot of identity culture clashes happening.