On this flashback Friday, return to 2012 when The Walking Dead announced Danai Gurira in the role of Michonne. Executive producer Robert Kirkman, who co-created the sword-swinging heroine with artist Charlie Adlard, revealed Gurira's casting live on AMC post-show Talking Dead following the March 18 airing of the Season 2 finale. A stand-in portrayed the fan-favorite comic book character featured in "Beside the Dying Fire," aired on March 18, 2012, as the mysterious hooded figure who saves Andrea (Laurie Holden) from walkers. Gurira would make her first appearance as Michonne in "Seed," the Season 3 premiere of The Walking Dead.
"It was very carefully done," Kirkman said in a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter of keeping Gurira's casting a secret until after the Season 2 finale. "The scene was shot — that wasn't Danai in the costume — so we held the casting until later so it wouldn't leak because we knew that once we cast Michonne there would be so many agents, managers and casting people that would be aware of it that it would be impossible to keep it under wraps. We waited until later to do it and worked really hard to preserve that reveal."
According to Kirkman, AMC landed on the Treme and The Visitor actress the week before the Walking Dead creator revealed Gurira would play the iconic katana-wielding warrior.
"Danai really portrayed the power and strength that we need Michonne to exhibit. Michonne is a very complex character who's dealing with a lot of things and has a very intricate personality," Kirkman explained. "There's a lot to that role, and Danai, more than any other actress, showed us that she could exhibit that strength and show what an intense character she could be and, at the same time, have that emotional core and be able to show a vulnerability to a certain extent that we don't see much of but is definitely there. She really was the whole package."
Gurira would star as a series regular until Season 10 of The Walking Dead, exiting the AMC zombie drama to pursue other creative opportunities. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony-nominated playwright and actor also achieved blockbuster success in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portraying the fierce General Okoye of Wakanda's deadly Dora Milaje in Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
"My heart does not leave in any way shape or form," an emotional Gurira told Hall H attendees when confirming her Walking Dead exit at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. "The beauty is that TWD Family is forever. I came in [to the show] in 2012 and felt this energy, and this connection never ends. It's not connected to the decision I made. It was about my calling and other things I feel called to and the opportunities I've had through the other things I do as a creator of work."