Yahoo! TV Q&A: Beloved 'Walking Dead' character on his shocking return to the zombie drama
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains storyline and character spoilers for the "Clear" episode of "The Walking Dead."
All of the discussions about "Walking Dead" cast members thus far have revolved around their characters' deaths. Happily, we get to talk about -- and to -- a returning face to the zombie apocalypse universe this week, Lennie James, the actor who plays Rick Grimes's pal Morgan.
When last we saw Morgan -- more than two years ago, in the series pilot -- he and son Duane were headed off in one direction while newbie pal Rick went off to find his family. Fans never forgot about Lennie and Duane -- as James will share in just a minute -- and in this week's powerful episode, "Clear," Rick found out what has become of his friend, which proved to be both heartbreaking and eye-opening for the sheriff.
James, already beloved to apocalyptic TV drama fans for his performance on the too-short-lived "Jericho," happily returned to the "Walking Dead" fold for his surprise reappearance. He talked with Yahoo! TV about his favorite moments from the episode, his surreal conversation with fellow British actor Andrew Lincoln during filming, and his upcoming AMC drama -- "Low Winter Sun" -- that sounds like it's going to fit in just fine with the network's showcases of great storytelling and compelling characters.
This episode of "The Walking Dead" was the best episode of the series so far, and you deserve an Emmy nomination for your incredibly powerful performance. What did you think when you read this script?
I was excited, to be absolutely honest. I mean, it was … I thought there was enough there to justify bringing Morgan back after all this time. Because we'd talked about it before, but either my schedule had gotten in the way or it wasn't right for their production. You know, we'd been talking about it for a while, but having not been around for the length of time, the longer it went on, the more kind of pressure in a weird way was put on what it needed to be in order to justify bringing him back. And they needed to be in a place in their storytelling where they felt they could justify the return of the guy, because fans seem to sort of identify with Morgan from the first episode, and there had become, you know, the eternal question of "When is Morgan coming back?"
I mean, in every interview that I've done in the last two-and-a-half years, for films I've done or the other television shows that I've done, in different parts of the world, I mean, in New Zealand and in France and in Mexico City and in London and in Paris, the question that everybody asked … "When are you coming back to 'The Walking Dead'?" or "Are you coming back to 'The Walking Dead'?" And I'm sure that the writers and producers of the show were aware of that. So there was a little bit of pressure. When I read the script, I just thought, OK, this is just, this is fantastic. This is just about the story we're telling.
Lincoln and James examine how the characters of Rick and Morgan have changed and where they find themselves in "Clear":
Were you following the show all this time? Had you been keeping up with what everybody was doing and all the characters?
Yes, I would have days or weekends where I'd do like loads of people and just catch up on a chunk of episodes so I kind of knew what was going on. And when I knew I was coming back to the show, I had one of those sessions just to get the vibe of how the show had moved on and what was the world that I was kind of stepping into. So yes, I did. Andy Lincoln, who plays Rick, is a mate of mine, so I kind of pop in every now and then just to see how he's doing.