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TWD's Danai Gurira Says Playing Norman Reedus' Enemy Was 'Painful'

Usually, an exit from the undead post-apocalyptic world of "The Walking Dead" means a gruesome and heartbreaking end to a beloved character. Ask any fan of the series about the unfortunate demise of characters such as Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) or Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), and they can probably recall those characters' tragic ends in pained detail. But during Season 10, in a rare feat, the katana-wielding Michonne, played by Danai Gurira, got to exit with her life and go about on the hunt for the missing Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). However, just because the character left "The Walking Dead" alive didn't mean that her departure wasn't emotionally unsettling in some parts.

In the episode "What We Become," the notion of choice is thoroughly examined through Michonne as she experiences a hallucinogenic trip that peers into some unsettling "what if" scenarios. For instance, what if Michonne hadn't saved Andrea (Laurie Holden) back in Season 2 of the series? The answer to that would have meant a far more disturbing path that puts her in front of the arrow end of Daryl's (Norman Reedus) bow. Michonne and Daryl have displayed one of the series' best camaraderie throughout the seasons, so the idea of the two being enemies may have been jarring for fans. And they're not the only ones, as Gurira revealed that playing Norman Reedus' enemy wasn't easy.

Danai Gurira described the trippy twist with Norman as heartbreaking

"What We Become" showcases an alternate timeline for Michonne, that still finds her deeply involved in the lives of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors. But instead of an ally, Michonne is shown as an enemy, teaming up with the Saviors. At one point in the scenario, she serves as the executioner instead of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) during that infamous Lucille scene. In this timeline, Michonne doesn't make it out alive, but the way she goes out is the more surprising. Daryl shoots an arrow through her chest and coldly kicks her down to the ground. Then, Rick delivers a final gunshot. In a 2020 interview with TV Line, Danai Gurira noted that working with her castmates like Norman Reedus in such a different manner was difficult.

Gurira told TV Line, "The twists with Norman were heartbreaking — we were enemies! That was really painful to do. But I really appreciate that the show always finds really unique and specific ways to allow characters to leave. We go through so many exits, yet they're always very specific and true to the characters in their own way. So I was thankful that mine wasn't an exception to that."

Being Reedus' enemy wasn't the only thing that shook Gurira about the episode. In another 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor explained how seeing the alternate Michonne's darker actions, like walking away from Andrea, freaked her out. It's understandable why the actor would feel this way when considering that she knew her character inside and out. And as she later added in the Hollywood Reporter interview, acting out Michonne's worse nightmare meant going against much of the character's core.