Fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” had a lot to talk about after Sunday’s 90-minute Season 5 finale, including the return of Season 1 fan-favorite Morgan, played by the surprisingly British Lennie James. With both his accent and appearance shocking fans, many questions about the actor remain unanswered.
After small but memorable appearances during Season 1 and Season 3 of the hit zombie drama, Morgan returned in his biggest role on the series yet -- a stick-wielding fighting machine. His re-emergence in the season finale was associated not only with the introduction of the new villains, the Wolves, but also with the rescue of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand), who he saved from becoming zombie kibble.
The finale ended with Morgan finally reuniting with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) at Alexandria -- but fans don’t know where things will go next. James himself teased that he’ll show up in at least one episode of Season 6 during his first-ever appearance on AMC’s “Talking Dead” Sunday night. Given the way fans like him and the way the show’s storyline appears to be breaking, odds are good he’ll be around a lot longer than just the one episode, though. Even the showrunner of “The Walking Dead” wants to see more of Morgan.
“People want to follow that character; I want to follow that character,” showrunner Scott M. Gimple told the Hollywood Reporter. “There’s a Morgan story to tell. It’s the beginning of something, but I’m not going to say what it is, or how involved it is.”
Because it is more than likely that fans of “The Walking Dead” have a lot of Morgan in their futures, it’s probably time we learn about the actor and how his career brought him to one of the best shows on television. Check out the following five fast facts about Lennie James.
1. That Accent
“You’re British?!” Chris Hardwick, host of “Talking Dead,” joked as soon as James opened his mouth. Although you’d never know it by listening to his character, the actor has a surprisingly thick accent. That’s because he’s originally from London, although he now lives with his family in Los Angeles. According to TV Guide, the actor and his brother spent eight years in the foster-care system after his mother died when he was 10. He had the option to live with a relative in the U.S., but elected to stay in the country he knew.
2. Other Credits
Although James may be most popular these days for playing Morgan, James has had previous American TV roles in series such as AMC’s “Low Winter Sun,” CBS’ “Jericho” and HBO’s “Hung.” He’s also nabbed some pretty good roles in films such as the James Brown biopic “Get on Up,” “Lockout” and “Snatch.” Fans of the popular video-game “Destiny” may recognize his as the voice of Lord Shaxx, as well.
3. Not Just An Actor
Believe it or not, the guy whose character fought two creepy cult members with a stick, as well as a whole horde of walkers, is also an accomplished playwright. In 2004, one of James’ original plays made its debut at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Marked his first writing gig and titled “The Sons of Charlie Paora,” the play was well-received by critics. In it, a group of young men gather to mourn the loss of their rugby coach, mentor and father figure. Members of the group are made uncomfortable when the man’s real son and daughter arrive.
4. A Good Dad
As previously mentioned, James lives in L.A. with his wife and three daughters. In a question-and-answer interview with the U.K. publication Express, the actor said his twin daughters are attending Ivy League universities at the same time. So we now know where all those “Walking Dead” checks are going.
“I mean to make them pay me back!” James joked during the Q-and-A interview. He also revealed that, thanks to his girls, he’s become very good at styling women’s hair. When they were young, he confessed to braiding and corn-rowing their hair as often as he could. Now that they’re old enough to bat him away, though, he’s less of a stylist these days.
5. First Kill
This won’t be news to many fans of “The Walking Dead,” but it’s worth mentioning that Morgan was the first character on the show to kill a walker -- chronologically, that is. Although Rick gets the first on-screen kill, when the pilot flashes back to his escape from a hospital, it’s Morgan who establishes for Rick that it’s OK to take out zombies with no mercy, much to the delight of fans. In fact, the only characters to appear before Morgan were Rick and Shane (Jon Bernthal).
While fans eagerly await Morgan’s return in Season 6, they can keep themselves busy with the spinoff series, “Fear the Walking Dead,” set to premiere this summer.