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- Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Worth” episode of The Walking Dead.]
Simon made a big power play on Sunday’s “Worth” episode of The Walking Dead, but when all was said and done, he was the one who got played. After mobilizing forces to take out Negan, Simon was double-crossed by Dwight, who squealed to the big boss man. Negan then allowed Simon to duke it out Fight Club style to see who lived and who died. Simon died.
We spoke to Steven Ogg, who played the peacocking Simon to perfection, and the actor told us about all the stuff that didn’t make the final episode as well as his last days on set and getting to play Zombie Simon. Read on to get the inside scoop on all the how and why of Simon’s last stand, and also make sure to check out the reveal of Carl’s letter to Negan.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Start of off by telling us the how, when, and where of you finding out about Simon’s untimely demise?
STEVEN OGG: [Showrunner Scott] Gimple talked to me. It could have been at the premiere. It was at some event where I sort of found out, “Oh yeah, you’re going to be dying.” I was like, “Oh, that would have been cool to find out tomorrow.” That’s the way of the world. That’s the life of the show. It was just like, you know, you’re sad. You’re bummed because it’s your friends and your family and it’s work, and it’s a job. More importantly, it’s your friends and your family. You love it and, “Okay, yeah. Well, as long as I go down in flames. Can I get a big cannonball?”
You certainly got a big cannonball. But first, I want to ask about a scene early on in this episode where Negan’s returned. Simon gets down on his knees and says, “There’s no move to make.” It looks like he’s about to get Lucille’d there. Do you think Simon thinks it’s over or is he hoping it’s just a test? What’s going through his mind at that point?
We tried one where I was literally looking back up at Negan, or even turning my head. I wanted to initially get off my chair and face him. I’d just be looking at him, and I think that was facing it. That’s facing the music. That’s how Simon wanted to go down, standing up to him. You know, [the producers] had differences of opinions, and obviously, things turned.
He thought: Okay, this could be it. But you know what? I’m not going to cower. I’m not going to lower my head. I’m not going to sit here and, “Ha, ha, ha.” No. I’m going to just take it the way I want to take it — like a man. Obviously, it didn’t work with [the producers]. “No don’t turn and face him. That’s horrible.” But that’s what I wanted as far with Simon. I thought yeah, okay. If he’s going to take his punishment, I’m going to take it sitting up straight; no head bowed, no looking away. Just, “Okay, go. Look at me when you’re doing it and make sure you know.” So that was the idea of mine, that yeah, he’s going to get killed, but he’s going to do it with his honor, if you will.
Let’s move into Simon’s planned mutiny even after Negan has returned because I’m curious from your perspective where this comes from now in terms of him wanting to take out Negan. Is it purely philosophical, or is it that he got a taste of power and now doesn’t want to give it up, or maybe a bit of both?
I don’t think it’s the taste of power. I never thought that Simon was a power-hungry man. On some level, I think he was fine the way he was going about it. I think it was more just moving things along. He ended up representing chaos in the world and the elimination of things. Hopefully, this will move the needle forward in this sick way that he decided to do it. But I think he was always coming from somewhere like that as opposed to the place of what you’re suggesting, the power. I never saw Simon as like, “Oh I want to be the leader.” I think he would go off and do his own thing, like lead all these outposts, but never with the goal of becoming the captain of the team.
He says to the others in terms of killing Negan, “We need to make this quick, quiet, and respectful. The man’s done a lot for us. He deserves that.” Do you think he believes that or is that just politicking?
Yeah. I mean, he got us to this. We’re doing this. He recognizes that. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a difference of opinion, doesn’t agree with everything. He’s like, “Yeah, look what he did. He did the best he could really so let’s acknowledge that. It doesn’t mean it worked, doesn’t mean he’s all right, but you know, let’s give a round of applause for him.” So it’s sort of Simon’s own sense of what’s right. I think it was that acknowledgment, you know?
What about Simon’s little speech to the Saviors before he fights for his life. He’s acting like he’s going to win. Do you think he believes that?
You’re stepping into the ring, man! It’s go time! He’s fully confident that he’s going to win. I mean, this was Fight Club because I would have been thrilled to just rip the shirt off. I just wanted this nasty, brutal street fight. I grew up in a hockey town where there was a lot of nasty parking lot fights, pre-UFC. That was what I wanted. At that point, boom, peacock feathers are out and he is charging into that ring with one intention, and that’s to finish him, to beat him. It didn’t pan out that way. It was a combination of Negan doing what he wanted to survive and that’s what both Jeffrey and I wanted. It didn’t get as dirty as we both would have liked it.
We both actually wanted Negan to just kick him in the nuts or bite him, or gouge his eyes, because that’s in fights. You’re in it to destroy the other person right? You’re in it to win. You’re not in it to fight honorably. It’s not a boxing match. It’s a street brawl. We wanted it as nasty as possible, and Negan got nasty with the eye gouge. Once the eye gouge is in place, it throws a man off and it allowed him to give the final beat down to Simon.
And you started it with the sucker punch!
Which I loved. I loved that. That’s why I initially had wanted to set up outside with Dwight when I charge at him. I wanted this whole thing of, that’s Simon’s move, sort of like Tom Hardy in Warrior with Joel Edgerton when he charges him. I kind of wanted that effect where he just goes storming across the ring, grabs him, goes to slam his back into the concrete, but instead it’s avoided by an elbow or whatever.
So that was the initial thing, and then I wanted to establish that and then I wanted to just come in, me on that last sentence, and instead of delivering the punch after, I thought, how about we just give a little bit of surprise? Not a sucker punch, a surprise punch.
It’s a fine line.
It’s a fine line, but Simon always likes to walk that fine line.
Tell me about the choking scene and how you guys did that. Whose hands are those around your neck?
Oh, that was Jeffrey. First we were both like, “Oh we can’t fight. We’re not fighters.” But once you get into it, you’re just like, “Let’s do this man. I mean this is it. This is goodbye for me so I want you to send me on my way. I want those hands on my neck.” The hardest part is actually making the choking sounds. I was holding my breath to sell it, and that’s because I’m not a trained professional fighter that knows the right things to do. When you don’t, you usually hurt yourself throwing the punch because you’re over-exerting, trying to be tough, and that was the toughest, just choking. I was nearly passing out from that just because you’re holding your breath trying to sell it. That was the toughest part.
And then we see walker Simon on the wall. How do you feel about that ending?
It was cool. I was happy that I got to be a walker. I wanted to give this sort of a pit bull feel when you first reveal him. I wanted him to still be in that grrh, grrh, grrh motion of just wanting to kill, kill, kill, kill, kill until the zombie poison is transforming him and he quickly soon then settles into, I am a zombie now. I loved doing that. That was fun. It was great to do the makeup. It was great to have that as a farewell.
What were your last days on set like knowing this was it?
Sad. S—ty, you know. You form such a relationship. You become so close, obviously still friends. You don’t lose the friendships, but to know that you know you’re not going to be working together and playing together anymore in that capacity is sad. You get over it. It doesn’t last forever, but it’s like the theater: You have this intense time, this intense relationship, and then you say bye to everyone. It’s tough. It’s lots of hugs. It’s a lot of tears for me anyways. I don’t know about everyone else. I’ll speak just for my own tears, but such a wonderful, beautiful family. It was hard.
Let’s just play a quick game of “What If?” because we never got to see Simon as the long-term leader of the Saviors. How do you think he would have done?
If he was put into the role of leadership, he’d be fine. He’s a good leader. He gets stuff done. I think obviously his technique is going to be quite different. I think there’d be a lot more bloodshed obviously, but he’s capable. He’d be fine.