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Lennie James On Morgan's Walking Dead Future And How He'd Like It To End - Exclusive

"People like you, the good people, they always die. And the bad people do, too. But the weak people, the people like me... we have inherited the Earth," says a mentally beaten-down Morgan Jones to Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead episode "Clear." It's the first time Rick has laid eyes on his old friend since they parted ways near the beginning of season 1. Since then, Morgan has suffered the tragic loss of his son Duane. Broken, deranged, and without purpose, it seems like he's reached the end of the line — at one point, he even begs Rick to put him out of his misery. 

Fast forward to a decade later, and the fan favorite character is still alive and mostly well, even though he's had his close calls with death. Morgan has certainly had an interesting character trajectory, to say the least. He went from the crazed, grieving father-turned-recluse to the peaceful wandering monk, to the reborn axe-wielding gunslinger in the current season of Fear the Walking Dead. When actor Lennie James sat down with Looper for an exclusive interview, we asked him about his favorite of his character's many iterations.

"They're all the same guy. They're all different facets of the same fellow," James says. "I mean, when he is, for lack of a better phrase, crazy Morgan, he is keeping the peaceful warrior at bay and when he's the peaceful warrior, he's keeping crazy Morgan at bay, and so, everything is part of the same guy. They're not different. So, my enjoyment of playing this guy is that he has so many facets to his personality."

Much like Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), Morgan is not only one of the last few survivors who appeared in the debut season of The Walking Dead, but he's also a character who has outlived his comic book counterpart. Both Carol and Morgan have been long dead in the comic book universe, so the live-action versions of their characters have become wild cards who are unbound by the source material. Since it's quite possible that the show's writers might be conflicted and hesitant about how fans would react to killing off the few remaining characters who link back to the beginning, does James feel that Morgan is invincible at this point? 

"I think what happened to Rick and what happened to Carl has proven that no one's untouchable," James muses. "I think if you asked me before we lost those two who was untouchable, they certainly would have been on my list. So yeah, no one's untouchable in this universe."

Morgan's ending should be 'an utter and complete surprise'

James has been playing Morgan for over ten years now, including appearances across The Walking Dead seasons 1, 3, and 5, followed by a promotion to full-time cast member for seasons 6 through 8. From there, he once again parted ways with longtime pal Rick Grimes, and would leave Virginia and head on west towards Texas, crossing over into Fear the Walking Dead's season 4 timeline. During the spin-off's season 5 finale, it seemed like Morgan's time was finally up — but this year's season 6 premiere proved, once again, that he's got more story left to tell. In fact, it sounds like the writers' room is very transparent with James, and never keeps him in the dark about where they're going with his character.

"We're lucky here. The writers are very collaborative and open and they're all aware that we have a shared knowledge of the character," James explains. "Some of us have a shared knowledge of the characters that we're playing because we'd been playing them as I have or connected to them for a long time. So, there was always a consultation period, a meeting, a phone call, a Zoom meeting. If there's going to be something big or not even big, actually, at the beginning of most seasons, we sit down with the showrunners and we talk about what's going to happen to the characters over the season and you're part of the conversation. And then, when the episode or the episodes come up, where there is something that's focusing on your character, you're included in the conversation."

When asked about Morgan's possible involvement in the upcoming Rick Grimes movie or whether or not the character deserves a happy ending or a heroic death, James remains tight lipped, saying only that he wants to be just as surprised as the fans when the nomadic warrior's ultimate swan song finally comes to pass — whenever that may be. "I'd like an ending that's in keeping with the character and in keeping with his legacy in this universe, really," says James. "I don't know what that is. It's not really my job to come up with it. I don't even know how he goes in the comic books or how he went down, but I hope it's something that keeps in line with who he's been to this universe. If anything, I'd quite like it just to be an utter and complete surprise that comes out of nowhere and has nothing to do with anything. He wakes up in the morning and forgets where he is and bangs his head and that's it."

New episodes of Fear the Walking Dead premiere Sundays on AMC, and Lennie James can be seen on both seasons of Save Menow streaming on Peacock.