The Governor, Merle, Survival: The 'Walking Dead' Cast on the Challenges Ahead (Exclusive Photos)

Who -- or what -- is the biggest foe for everyone on season three of the zombie drama? THR quizzed the cast to find out.
"The Walking Dead"

While it appears that The Walking Dead's Rick and company have found a new shelter from the walkers elements in the prison, that doesn't mean that the group is safe from the harsh realities that exist outside its gated walls.

Case in point: Hershel, who after being bitten on the leg by a zombie as the group struggled to clear a cellblock within the prison, had the limb literally chopped off by an ax-wielding Rick.

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In the meantime, loyal readers of Robert Kirkman's comic series on which the AMC drama is based know that the villainous Governor (David Morrissey) is lurking just around the corner in Woodbury, where he's poised to bring Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Andrea (Laurie Holden), who themselves have been on the road all winter.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with the cast of the zombie drama quizzed the cast about the challenges -- including Lori's ticking time bomb of a pregnancy -- facing their respective characters in season three.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick)
Guilt over his best friend's death. Forced to making the tough decisions for the group. Distance with Lori, who's pregnant with a child that may or may not be his. While they're all certainly on the former sheriff's mind, these aren't the biggest challenges for Rick this season. Instead, it's the looming battle between the leader of Woodbury. "The Governor. I hate saying that word. It sounds so silly. I'll call him Phillip," Lincoln says with a laugh.

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Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori)
"A big role for Lori is her seeking redemption," Callies says. "She's very anxious to make sure that her pregnancy doesn't end up putting anyone in jeopardy. As the pregnancy goes on, she will be less and less able to defend the group and she wants to make sure that good people don't put themselves in danger to protect her because she feels deeply unworthy of that."

Norman Reedus (Daryl)
Now the group's No. 2 behind Rick, Daryl's biggest challenge this season can be summed up in one word: Merle (Michael Rooker). "His brother is back and he's like that drunk uncle at a Christmas party telling you to shut up," Reedus says of his on-screen racist sibling. Not to worry, the group has now become a well-oiled fighting machine -- and proved as much in the season three opener. "Our group is very hardened and weathered. The first season was an introduction into the world; the second season we were afraid of zombies and the third season is an infestation and we're furious. There's a lot of people who are badass this season."

David Morrissey (The Governor aka Phillip Blake) 
The Governor, who has yet to appear on the AMC series, has more in common with Rick than one might thing as both characters have been thrust into an unwelcome leadership role within their respective communities. "The Governor has to run Woodbury in this very strong way and it's the balance between making him a credible leader and not an ogre," Morrissey says. "I don't want to play him as this outright evil guy who throws people into jail and tortures people. The Governor has a problem and it's how he runs the town and how he keeps the people there safe. It's the balance that's his biggest challenge."

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Laurie Holden (Andrea)
Out on her own after being separated from the group during the infestation of Hershel's farm, Andrea came thisclose to being walker bait before Michonne stepped in. This year, she'll have to adjust to being her own woman. "Andrea's biggest challenge this season is she's on her own for the first time; she doesn't have a support group anymore and is forced to make a lot of hard choices," she says. "The ramifications of her decisions not only affect her life but many people around her. She has a tremendous amount of responsibility, more than ever before."

Danai Gurira (Michonne)
Little is known about Andrea's new katana sword-swinging wingman beyond the fact that the duo have bonded in a way where they know look out for one another. Gurira says the character is only beginning to evolve into who she really is. "In some ways, her biggest challenge is herself. There's a becoming of Michonne; I don't think she is in a 'being' place." Be on the lookout for the woman who has figured out how to navigate the post-apocalyptic world to become almost immediately suspicious of the Governor when the duo come face to face, putting Michonne and Andrea in direct conflict.

Steven Yeun (Glenn)
"Glenn's biggest challenge this season is to take a hold of himself and stand up for what he believes in, what's important for him and really take responsibility for the things that he loves," he says. That will include shedding his former role as a "gofer" who was always willing to be lowered into a well inhabited by the most bloated zombie the series has featured. "Maggie (Lauren Cohan) really unlocks him; you're going to see an imperfect Glenn. To watch the growth of a young man into an adult is to also see his failures and to see where he trips up and where he does succeed. To see that is much more fulfilling than to see a kid who does all the right things for the right reasons at first and then ends up doing all the right things for all the right reasons as an adult."

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Lauren Cohan (Maggie)
"In the third season, she has really come into her own," she says. "She's one of the stronger members of the group and as we see in the first and second episodes, she's there with the guys clearing the ground for everyone to move into the prison but she's still vulnerable. In episode two, that's what we get to see." Considering Maggie has more family with her at the prison than anyone -- boyfriend Glenn, father Hershel, younger sister Beth -- that vulnerability means she has more to lose. 

IronE Singleton (T-Dog)
T-Dog will be tasked with one major job this season as Merle, the man he helped lock up on an Atlanta rooftop, is back in the picture. " Staying alive. That's the ultimate challenge and I think that's the challenge for everybody."

Melissa McBride (Carol)
Carol apparently learned a lot over the winter as she looked to redefine herself with a new role with the group. "Carol's biggest challenge, aside from staying alive, is being useful and playing her part, doing her share and helping; watching everyone else's back." That will come full circle when she puts Hershel's medical instruction to good use as she cares for him in the wake of his amputation.

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Scott Wilson (Hershel)
Last seen nearly bleeding out after having his leg amputated, Hershel has definitely seen better days. "Survival," Wilson says of Hershel's major challenge. "It's pretty clear that they're in desperate times."

Emily Kinney (Beth) 
"At the farm, even though there was a little bit of instability, we had a system with the walkers and the barn. Now, everything is a surprise," says Kinney, whose character attempted suicide last season. This year, Beth will make it part of her role within the group to bring that sense of family to the prison. "In the first episode, you realize that they've regrouped and have a new system and have become a new family and have taken on new roles and filled in the gaps with people we've lost. There's nothing that feels like home except the people we have."

What are you looking forward to seeing? The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Check out two exclusive photos from this week's episode, in which Hershel fights for his life and Daryl does his best to defend the group against the dead -- and the living. 

Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC

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