The Walking Dead: Lennie James Talks Morgan, Negan & Killing

Morgan Ex

One character who was entirely absent from Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead was Morgan Jones. That's because while Rick and the group went out on a mission to assassinate the Saviors, he elected to stay back at Alexandria and build a jail cell. The man does not want to kill people.

Morgan is one of the few characters on The Walking Dead who has been around since the show's debut season. In fact, he was featured in the very episode and has known Rick longer than everyone on the show with the exception of Carl. Even so, he and Rick do not see eye to eye for the time being. Rick has evolved into ruthless, kill-to-survive leader, while Morgan has honed his fighting abilities and believes in sparing his enemies in hopes of their own redemption.

Over the weekend, had the chance to pick the brain of Morgan actor, Lennie James. The British actor was as enthusiastic about the show as ever and spilled some insight into why Morgan thinks Alexandria needs a jail, some excitement over Negan's arrival in the season finale, and much more. Check it out below.


CB: At first, I was a little skeptical of the whole no killing thing, but now, seeing Rick and the group be so ruthless, I might be flipping to Team Morgan. What kind of response have you seen from fans? Do people agree with you or do people say you need to get out there and kill?

LJ: I think a lot of people have reacted in the way that you did really. I think that your reaction's been pretty universal. I think there was such an expectation on Morgan's return and everybody had their version of what was gonna happen when he got back and I think it's very clever and very brave of Scott [Gimple] and the other writers on the show to walk him down this particular road and walk him down it very carefully and precisely, which is his salvation, the thing that saved him, was Eastman and not killing and opening up the question (which has been there for a while) which is just not about surviving in this post-apocalyptic world but we've gotten to a stage now where we can investigate who we are and how we survive and who we are while we're doing it. So, I think most of the reaction that people have had has been, "I take your point, I love your character, you need to kill some people!" I think it's partly because of the affection people have for Morgan's friendship with Rick. "You need to get on Rick's side. You need to be killing everybody!"

So, as the story has gone alone, as the episodes have come in, people have started to go, "I understand. I understand where he is." And some people will go, "I understand and I'm kind of moving towards Morgan," but some people say, "I really do understand the dilemma but you're still gonna have to start killing people." It's been a variation of those that's been the reaction I've got.

Last week, we saw Father Gabriel become a killer despite having some strong beliefs. Morgan has strong beliefs, too, but does that mean he'll never kill or do you think it's a rule he would bend if necessary?

Well, you have to understand the history of Morgan and where this is coming from. Morgan, on one level, is very different to Father Gabriel. Father Gabriel, however it transpired, didn't kill because of fear in himself. Some people say it was cowardice, some people say it was self-preservation. It was, he was frightened, unable, or unwilling in some way to engage in that side of surviving. Morgan is not killing because he's good at it. He got really good at it. It was all consuming and it's almost like he's an addict to a certain extent and he knows that if he has just one drink, it may well lead him all the way down the road into a binge, which we saw in episode four what he was capable of.

So, Morgan's fear is a fear of himself and knowing what he's capable of and knowing what he can do. I think that that is, as much as it is an external argument that he's having with Rick and Carol and as he stood up the other day and had it with the group, he's also having an internal struggle. He knows what happens on the other side. About two or three times in the season he has intimated or directly asked Rick, "I shouldn't be here." It's a question he has within himself because with other people comes responsibility for other people and with responsibility for other people comes the possibility of having to defend them and with the possibility of having to defend them you may well have to kill for them and Morgan just doesn't want to go back down that road because he knows what it entails.

It seems like there's definitely some unfinished business between Morgan and Carol. Is that something we're going to see explored and where does Morgan stand on that relationship?

I think right now they're both kind of figuring it out. I've said in an interview previously that of all the people within the group that may have come across each other pre-apocalypse, the possibilities because of who they were in their previous lives and the way they defined their previous lives which were very much family oriented and Morgan had defined himself by who's father he was and who's husband he was in much the same way that Carol saw who's mother she was and who's wife she was, there's a possibility that their paths may have crossed. They were regular folk who have gone on this massive transformation.

There is a connection between the two of them and at the moment, I don't know that Morgan knows what that means, it's just that he sees something in Carol and part of what he sees in her is the price. Maybe he sees what other people aren't seeing because he sees it within himself but he sees her for the choices that she's made and the choices that she's making and that both worries him, kind of scares him, and draws him towards her, I think.

Last week, we saw you building the jail in Alexandria as Greg Nicotero revealed it to be. What's the intention behind building the jail?

It's kind of like conscientious objectives during times of war who say that they don't want to fight but that doesn't mean they don't want to help the struggle so will become medics or stretcher bearers or whatever. Just because Morgan is saying that he doesn't want to kill people, it doesn't mean that he doesn't want to do something to protect the Alexandrians. He knows just from past experience that this town is going to need a jail and it's going to need to be one that is more secure than the one he was in and particularly the one that the Wolf was in. Having seen how easy it was for the W man to get away, Morgan believes the one thing he can contribute to the group and possibly, strangely, maybe save lives, is by building a cell.

Everyone in Alexandria seems to be finding a romantic interest. Is there any romantic plot ahead for Morgan?

All honesty, I don't know. There has been a feeling that everybody's got the love bug in Alexandria and everybody seems to be pairing up. I think it would be an interesting thing to explore for Morgan: whether or not that part of him still exist and whether or not that part of him has any role to play in the journey that he's going on. But at the moment, in absolutely all honesty, I have absolutely no idea if that's even a possibility at this particular moment in time.

Andrew Lincoln, Ross Marquand, and Lauren Cohan have all commented on how brutal the finale of season six is. What are your thoughts on the big episode?


I can only repeat what those guys have said really. I know that Ross has talked about first reading the script and one of the things that's kind of exciting about this production, this gig doing The Walking Dead, is how many people involved with it both behind the camera and in front of the camera are genuine fans of the show. I know people have said it over and over again but it bears repeating, there's an incredible enthusiasm for this show amongst the people who are making it, let alone the the people who are watching it. So, when that final episode script came out, and there's a lot where you read the script and you arrive on set and say something to other actors and cast or crew and, "Have you read 13? Have you read 14? Have you seen what happened? Wow! That's gonna be amazing!" There's always those conversations but all of that was topped in a massive way when the finale episode of the season came out.

Firstly, it is a phenomenal piece of writing. Secondly, it is one of the greatest introductions of a character that I can remember in any television series, let alone in our television series. It's a phenomenal entrance. I don't want to build it up too much but it's probably to late now. It's amazing. For me, it was two things really. One was it was a sense of, "Oh, my god. That's gonna be amazing." Two was a desire to see it come to fruition and, from all intensive purposes and everything I know, it's fantastic. Jaws are gonna drop and people are gonna lose their shit. It's gonna blow some people's minds and break some people's hearts.