Former Walking Dead star David Morrissey expected real-world backlash after his character, the Governor, murdered fan-favorite farmer Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) in the show's fourth season. Morrissey's one-eyed bad guy tormented Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of zombie apocalypse survivors holed up in a fortified prison neighboring the Woodbury community, where the Governor terrorized Andrea (Laurie Holden), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and new couple Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun). In the Season 4 mid-season finale, "Too Far Gone," the villain's feud with the group culminated in a battle outside the prison gates, and the Governor used Michonne's katana to decapitate Hershel in front of horrified daughters Maggie and Beth (Emily Kinney).
"I remember when I first got the script, and I read that I killed Hershel, I thought, 'Oh, going to Whole Foods is going to be tough,'" Morrissey recalled during a Wizard World 2020 virtual panel.
Despite his heinous acts — among them murdering Daryl's (Norman Reedus) older brother Merle (Michael Rooker) and torturing Andrea before leaving her to be bitten by a reanimated Milton (Dallas Roberts) — the Governor, real name Philip Blake, viewed himself as a family man whose attempted redemption died alongside Tara's (Alanna Masterson) young niece Meghan (Meyrick Murphy).
"The important thing I think, as an actor, is you never judge your characters. So you never say to yourself, 'This is a bad man,'" Morrissey said. "Because everything you're doing, you're doing for — you think — the good reason. He's a man that has a town that he's protecting, that he will do everything he can to protect that town, and he will convince himself that they are for the right reasons."
He added, "So he would do things which were horrible, shocking, awful, sadistic, but in his head, they're for the right reasons. So you never comment on your own character, you have to believe that they're in the right."
Revisiting the episode after Wilson's death in 2018, Morrissey said it was "really hard" having to kill Wilson's beloved character, who first appeared in the show's second season.
"Scott has been always a great man, he was a very special man, a very special actor, but a very special man as well," Morrissey said aboard Walker Stalker Cruise 2019. "The thing for me was that I was going to kill him and then I knew I was going to die immediately after, so it was a tough day, it was a really tough day."
"Him and I went out afterwards and we sort of played some pool, we played some golf and stuff," he recalled. "But yeah, it was a sad day."
For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.