Fear The Walking Dead: The 'Biggest Battle' Lennie James Had When Playing Morgan

Even as AMC's "The Walking Dead" universe continues to expand with an array of fresh spin-offs, the door has officially begun closing on the old guard of the beloved, post-apocalyptic franchise. The flagship series wrapped its storied run in 2022, with a thrilling final run of episodes. And 2023 brings the end of its first spin-off series, "Fear The Walking Dead." The spin-off began its own small screen run in 2015, and promptly poached one of the original "The Walking Dead" stars in Lennie James. The actor has portrayed Z-Day survivor Morgan Jones since the very first episode of "The Walking Dead" hit the air in 2010, and joined "Fear The Walking Dead" as a full-time cast member during its fourth season.

All in all, James has made more than 120 appearances as the fan-favorite Morgan between the two series. Over that span, he has no doubt endured all manner of internal and external struggles. But according to the actor's comments to CBR, what he struggles most with playing Morgan is keeping the character fresh for himself. "The biggest battle was to keep him relevant, to keep him interesting, to keep him growing, and to keep him being a person in this world." James added that it has become just as important to keep Morgan fresh for viewers too, stating, "That was always the job I've been trying to do to carry the audience along Morgan's journey."

Morgan has become one of the biggest players in the entire The Walking Dead universe

The creative teams behind "The Walking Dead" and "Fear The Walking Dead" have often pulled out all the stops to keep Morgan Jones' story fresh for both Lennie James and franchise fans. But James' compelling work in the role has arguably been the driving force behind keeping fans engaged with Morgan's narrative. And as James told CBR, that has been a struggle in and of itself. "The most challenging part of playing Morgan is making his choices and what happens to him believable [as] one man [so] that he can still stand up and tell his story," he said, adding, "As an actor, if he stopped interesting me, he would stop interesting everyone else."

Not only has James kept Morgan interesting, but he has also helped build him into one of the most important characters in AMC's "The Walking Dead" franchise. That fact is all the more impressive given the extended gaps in James' tenure in said universe. After all, James began his journey as the character in the 2010 pilot for "The Walking Dead," but he didn't make his second appearance until a one-off spot late in Season 3. He also took Season 4 off, not returning to the zombie-infested apocalypse until Season 5.

Narrative gaps aside, Morgan's early appearances are pretty much the stuff of "The Walking Dead" legend. And the same can be said for many of Morgan's storylines in the ensuing years. Though his "Fear The Walking Dead" tenure appears to be at an end, the door is clearly open for James to return elsewhere in "The Walking Dead" universe. That's assuming, of course, the character remains interesting to him.