Lennie James Teases Morgan Facing His “Most Frightening Challenge” Yet in Fear the Walking Dead

Lennie James’ Morgan will confront his “most frightening challenge” when he attempts to find a healthy way forward after the deaths of his wife and son, traumatic losses now standing in the way of a potential romance with Grace (Karen David).

“What I can say is it’s not necessarily the way that is expected,” James told Digital Spy when asked about the blossoming Morgan-Grace coupling that was put on pause when Morgan actively distanced himself at the end of 510, “210 Words Per Minute.”

“I think that it was one of the things that was really important to me when speaking to [showrunners] Andrew [Chambliss] and Ian [Goldberg] and the writers about how we were going to tell this part of the story, because I think that it might not be as on-the-nose and kind of balls-out crazy and clear that he is not here,” James said.

“But this trying to find a place where he can put his feelings for Jenny and Duane in a safe place so he can possibly open himself up to feel something for somebody else, I think that's arguably the most frightening challenge that Morgan has come across, because from the moment that we met him and all through his journey, he has fundamentally been defined by who he was married to, and who he was the father of.”

In The Walking Dead, Morgan couldn’t bring himself to put down dead wife Jenny (Keisha Tillis) after she reanimated as a walker in the earliest days of the apocalypse. This would come back to bite Morgan when his zombified wife attacked and killed son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), a traumatic loss that drove Morgan mad.

Morgan was defined as a family man and, subsequently, became defined by “the loss of those two people who defined him,” James continued. “That has been at the core of who he is, and even thinking about opening himself up to feel something like love, or whatever, for somebody else is a major threat to who he thinks he is and basically one of the core principles of how he has survived.”

Fear the Walking Dead touched on Morgan’s late family again in 511, “You’re Still Here,” when an inspirational tree painted by Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) brought Morgan the briefest of peace through an inscription inspired by Madison Clark (Kim Dickens): “No one’s gone until they’re gone.”

“I don’t know whether he’s capable of saying goodbye to Jenny, I don’t think the goal is for him to say goodbye to Duane and Jenny,” James added. “It might be the best he can get to find a way of remembering Jenny and Duane in a way that doesn’t hurt him so much, and in a way that doesn’t hinder the possibility of a relationship with somebody else. Whether that’s Grace or not we’ll have to wait and find out.”

Like Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) or mentor Eastman (John Carroll Lynch), Grace will be the latest teacher to have a major impact on Morgan’s life: “But simply, if Grace does nothing else for Morgan, she forced him to try and find a more, let’s say, healthy way to move forward with his life.”

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New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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