This has been an up and down season of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD I have to say. With the sickness at the prison and Carol’s ousting what could have been better? Why the return of da, da, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa The Governor!
As the season comes to its half way mark keeping us all hungry, yes I said that, until February, it is with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye to one of THE WALKING DEAD’s most beloved characters. Herschel, played by Scott Wilson, has managed to survive longer than ever intended and even knowing that doesn’t make the loss any easier for fans.
So, to try to ease the pain for both Herschel and fans – here is a chat with the man himself Mr. Scott Wilson. And, if you behave – a few parting thoughts from the Governor himself, Mr. David Morrisey.
But first, Scott Wilson as Hershel. You’ve starred in classics like In the Heat of the Night and In Cold Blood. Has your fame from The Walking Dead surpassed the recognition you get for all those other movies?
Certainly I get recognized a lot, that’s a new condition of life. It’s not totally new, but to the degree it is now, it is new. I’m probably more recognizable with the beard and the ponytail. A lot of people in airports recognize me too — a lot of the agents when I’m passing through. And you have more of people stopping and wanting to take pictures of you and you saying, “I have a plane to catch.” The fans are really nice and they’re upfront and the people that talk to me are certainly pro-Hershel. I’ll hear things like, “Ah, you grew your leg back!”
Have you been getting interesting fan mail or seen any tributes to Hershel that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
People respond to Hershel everywhere. What’s really neat is that people have said they watch it with their families. Fathers and sons watch it together and it gives them some common ground to have conversation together.
Hershel has changed a lot from the farm owner we met in Season 2. Do you prefer the new Hershel, or the old one?
It’s been a fun journey. From the beginning on the farm, he was much more of a tight character. Everyone in the show has lost enormously; they’ve lost family members and daughters and sisters and loved ones. But because of being on the farm, his losses were as physical as anyone else’s. That was his farm, where he lived and raised his family. So you saw him lose something that had been in the family for a long time.
What were you told about Hershel going into Season 4?
The only thing I was really told was that I would have a prosthetic leg. So that made me happy.
Things get pretty ugly for Hershel at the prison. Did you ever petition for a return to the farm?
I had always thought that I would like to have that return. It would be a good journey to have him going back to the farm to see what was left of it.
Last year you spoke to us about how your golf game needed work. After another year going up against Andrew Lincoln and David Morrissey, did it get any better?
I have seen improvement, but it was on their part. They keep getting better, and the distance keeps getting further between us. They still enjoy playing with me; I guess it helps them realize how much better they could be. They could be not as good as they are, and I point that out.
THE GOVERNOR SPEAKS
Now, for the most hated character of THE WALKING DEAD, the Governor. I’m not sure although I’m sure I could do a survey, but it might be safe to say that this character is a tad more hated than Shane. And with Shane’s fond double-tap farewell, the Governor beat that but one more!
When did you find out that you were going to have to grow out your hair and your beard for this season?
Yeah they gave me a little heads up with that. I had about a month, really. But also that hair is a wig. I couldn’t have grown my hair out — that would have taken me like four years.
Was that an aesthetic change you embraced?
I kept thinking I should go and get myself a Harley or something! In that Georgia heat it can get pretty uncomfortable with the old beard, but I liked it.
The Governor takes shelter with Tara, Lilly and David. Have you ever been taken in by strangers
I’ve done a lot of traveling on my own around the world and there’s been many times where I’ve met people where they’ve helped me out, and taken me in and given me a meal. Particularly when I was a younger man, that happened a lot. I was in Africa when I was about 18, and I met these Kenyan guys — I was climbing Mt. Kenya and they helped me out and I shared a meal and a campsite with them. I was in Venice once and I was sleeping in the train station and a guy there sort of let me travel with them. Those kind of traveling kindnesses have happened a lot to me.
The Governor begins charming his way back into the fold this season. What kind of people have you studied in order to play him?
Before Season 3 I read a lot about various leaders, some from a cultish point of view. People like David Koresh, from Waco, Texas and also Jim Jones. But also I read about leaders that we all know and have all voted for. I think what’s happened with the zombie apocalypse is that the Governor has been able to offer security to a whole group of people. And he knows how to keep people in a state of indebtedness to him by creating those secure places. I think that’s very interesting; that’s what modern political leaders do all the time. They want you to be grateful to them and they want you to be worried about the other guy in the race because he’s not going to protect you like I can protect you.
There are some rumors out there that you modeled your Southern accent on Bill Clinton’s — is that true?
There’s an audiobook of Clinton’s autobiography My Life [narrated by Clinton] which I listened to a lot, and I think it’s fascinating. I didn’t model it on Clinton in any way, I was just listening to his audiobook while doing the show. But I listened to many voices in that way and had a great accent coach.
You’re married to one of Freud’s descendants. What do you think the Governor would have to say, sitting on the couch in some analyst’s office?
I think an analyst could take a lot of money off the Governor! I don’t think he’s a one session guy. There’s probably a lot going on there. He seems to have a bit of a megalomaniac side, and I think he’s quite angry at the world, which is giving him quite a lot to be angry about. In that Darwinian way, I think there’s an element of survival of the fittest in The Walking Dead. And sometimes you think about the fittest as someone who can run the fastest, and has the biggest muscles. Of course, the fittest is who can adapt most quickly to their surroundings, and I think that’s what happens with the Governor. He’s able to adapt very quickly to new situations that he finds himself in.
That’s it folks….now we all sit back and wait for February…the tension is ripe as we all sit back and figure out now that the prison is a gone safe haven – where and how will everyone get back together or will they? I have a final question…who is responsible for the rats? Maybe in February we’ll have those answers!