It was recently announced that Danai Gurira joined the cast of The Walking Dead Season 3. In her first big interview since the announcement, she talks about her new role, upcoming training, and her familiarity with the comic book series.
**Season 2 Spoiler Warning: Don’t continue reading if you haven’t finished The Walking Dead Season 2**
Nine million viewers watched and saw the arrival of Michonne. What have the past few days been like for you?
Gurira: It’s been pretty amazing. I got the job on Friday, so it’s very new. I’d never really watched it before I got the audition and I got to really get acquainted with it during these last few weeks and fell completely in love with it. I’m absolutely hooked. I felt desire really deeply to be a part of it. When I got to work with the producers one day and came back for the test I fell more in love with the show and wanted it more. It’s been a pretty intense week. You wait to hear and then you hear and you’re beside yourself. I had to hold it in for about 36 hours until they did the Talking Dead and it was all out. I’m still pinching myself.
Have you picked up The Walking Dead [Comic Series] yet?
Gurira: Yes, I’m being sent them now. I was reading snippets I could get online. I’ve been doing a lot of research prior to getting the part in preparation to get to know the the world and the force of this amazing story. I watched Season 1 and I was blown away and was trying to get to know more. I’ll be doing that this week.
How much will what you see in the comics influence how you play Michonne?
Gurira: I’m going to develop that with [showrunner] Glen Mazzara and the whole creative team. They have their own take on the source material. I’m going to be meeting with them next week to get an understanding of what their take is and how she grows and develops. I’ll find out the answer to that in the coming weeks in terms of exactly how she will map out with what she is in the books vs. what she will be on the screen. I’ll be learning as I go in some regards. I do know that she remains an absolute badass and I will be training with katana swords. I’m really excited about that.
Gurira: I got an MFA in acting from NYU and part of our training is to learn how to use swords in combat situations in a performance and Shakespeare plays where you have to fight. I’ve done a bit of that. It was all theater training work. In terms of martial arts, part of how I exercise is kickboxing but I’m not a black belt or anything. But I love a good kick and a good punch.
Sounds like a perfect fit. How else will your stage background inform how you play Michonne?
Gurira: I was trying to really investigate a character and allow her to have as much dimension as possible and crack it open even more. What you see through the writing and vision of the creator, you add to it by bringing your full humanity and by really delving into the character’s background and their motives and fears, all those things can make a multidimensional character come to life. That’s how I’ve been trained from the beginning and how I’ve created characters in the past on the stage or through my playwriting. I plan to bring all of that to the table to allow Michonne to be as rich and complex as possible. I’m excited to bring her to life as someone who really has a lot of life and a lot of complexity.
To read the rest of the interview, head over to The Hollywood Reporter. For anyone interested in seeing Michonne’s entrance in the season 2 finale again, check out the clip below: