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3 YEARS

AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Finds its Governor

David Morrissey will join the zombie drama as the famed comic's evil villain in a major season three role.

David Morrissey The Governor Walking Dead - H 2012
Getty Images

The Walking Dead has found its Governor.

David Morrissey has been cast to play the evil villain in the third season of the AMC zombie drama based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, the network said Friday.

In the Image/Skybound comics, Rick and his group encounter the character when they find a new settlement of survivors in Woodbury. While Rick is a kind and fair leader, the Governor is anything but.

The casting of the legendary character -- also known as Phillip -- has been long awaited by fans of the comics, which will release its 94th issue Feb. 29. The character's sadistic methods of leadership are counter-balanced with a personal struggle involving his daughter.

BAFTA Award nominee Morrissey will join the series starring Andrew Lincoln next season. Morrissey's credits include several British series, including Meadowlands, State of Play and The Deal. His stateside work includes The Other Boleyn Girl. He's repped by the Collective and Troika in the U.K.

Despite speculation ahead of the October season two premiere that Daryl's (Norman Reedus) missing brother, Merle (Michael Rooker), could eventually be the twisted psychopath, Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter that wasn't likely to be the case.

"The Governor character will be introduced at some point, and it will probably be an original character that hasn't appeared in the show up to that point," Kirkman told THR at the time.

With only a handful of episodes remaining in the AMC series' sophomore season, Rick, Lori, Shane and company are slowly wearing out their welcome on Hershel's farm now that they've brought back Randall, a straggler left for dead by another group of dangerous survivors. This week, Rick (Lincoln) and Shane (Jon Bernthal) will continue to clash over Randall's fate as his arrival leaves the group in a challenging position as they look to protect their safe haven on the farm.

The casting comes amid speculation that Bernthal's Shane -- currently Rick's No. 1 foil -- could be written out of the drama as the actor is circling former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont's TNT drama pilot.

Morrissey will be a regular on the series' next season, which will expand to 16 episodes.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit