March 18, 2012 7:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Walking Dead' Casts Sword-Wielding Heroine Michonne
[Warning: This story contains major spoilers about the season finale of AMC's The Walking Dead, titled "Beside the Dying Fire."]
A month after casting David Morrissey as iconic Big Bad The Governor, AMC's The Walking Dead has brought in Treme's Danai Gurira as Michonne, the legendary heroine from the Robert Kirkman comic series on which the zombie drama is based.
The hooded, sword-wielding badass made her onscreen debut in the final moments of Sunday's season-two finale, saving Andrea (Laurie Holden) from an almost certain death when she arrived -- with a pair of armless and jawless walkers chained behind her -- to put down an approaching zombie.
The hooded Michonne arrived on TV much the same way she did on the page. There, she saved Otis from a group of walkers and joined Rick and company in the safety of the prison, which was featured in the final scene of the season Sunday.
In an interview about the finale, Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter that the series was "transitioning into a new world" where the survivors are "faced with more adversaries, danger and different kinds of threats" and that Michonne is a "big part of that."
"She saves Andrea and she's carrying a sword. This is a very strange visual for fans of the show," Kirkman told THR. "Fans of the comic book know all about her and I'm sure are very excited to see her. ... I like to think about how the audience that just watches the show takes that. I think that is such a bizarre and jarring image. It really speaks volumes as to what you're going to be seeing in season three."
Fan favorite Michonne was introduced in Issue No. 19 of the Image Comics/Skybound series and continues to survive in the comics, which recently published its 94th installment. The character quickly earns Rick's trust and becomes his most valued ally as the group battles the sadistic Governor.
With Morrissey's casting, the sight of the prison in the fading moments of Sunday's finale and Michonne's arrival, the AMC zombie drama is poised to set up the heavily anticipated confrontation depicted in Kirkman's comic series.
Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara told THR last week that the character would be one the series makes its own, calling her "our vision" of what's in the comic.
"We know that she's a loner, we know she kicks ass. But we have some other traits about that her that are not in the comic book that we'll deviate," he told THR. "There's an interesting process as we start to write this character and bring her to life. We see this character as a significant character, not just as someone who's in the mix. This is a major addition to the show."
Mazzara noted that the series was looking for "someone who inhabits the traits of the character" and didn't need to necessarily bring in a "name" actress for the part. "We really feel like we want an actress who's going to be identified with the character and bring the character to life," he told THR.
Gurira's credits include six episodes of HBO's Treme, playing Village Voice scribe Jill. Repped by Paradigm and Suskin Management, she also has appeared in episodes of Lie to Me, Law & Order and Life on Mars.
Michonne's casting comes just days after Kirkman revealed the character's origin story in a six-page article that appeared in the April issue of Playboy magazine, which was released Friday. (View the first two pages here.)
The character's appearance was perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of the television season and came as Shane's death on the zombie drama leaked via casting reports and a spoiler-filled DVD ad well ahead of the episode in which Jon Bernthal's character was killed off.
Kirkman, Mazzara and Holden announced Gurira's casting Sunday on AMC's Walking Dead post-show series Talking Dead.
What do you think of the casting? Are you excited to see some new blood in the AMC series?