The actress who plays Michonne also remembers other off-screen drama from her first day

By Dalton Ross
October 06, 2017 at 10:00 AM EDT
Fall TV
  • TV Show

Working on a show as massive and popular as The Walking Dead can be a huge adjustment for anyone. But for Danai Gurira, taking on the role of Michonne in season 3 was especially jarring. That’s what we found out when we asked her about her first day ever on the set of the show.

“I remember my first day on The Walking Dead very vividly,” says Gurira. “It was definitely a huge adjustment. I was coming into the most humid heat I had ever experienced in my life. I was wearing a beautiful but new to me dreadlocked wig and I had very short hair for a very long time so I was like, ‘What is this?’ And then the whole day, it was just me. It was a scene in the beginning between me and Andrea and then it was just me, so it was a very interesting, amazing experience because I got to connect so directly with the crew, who of course are such a huge part of the TWD family.”

Gurira also notes that she may have pushed things a bit too far on the first day. “I remember I was working on my moves,” she recalls. “I was going into that convenience store to find some Aspirin or something to help Andrea, and I was working on the moves over and over again. I’m a rehearser, so I’m going over them over and over again and I just totally kind of overheated. But I was fine. But then I went and laid down to just catch my breath and it was like six people were on me like, ‘Oh my God, she’s overheating!’ And they’re taking so much care of me and I’m thinking, I’m fine but let them do their thing. ‘Cause they just know how to handle everything. They were nervous for me. They tried to ease me into this whole thing. It was amazing.”

That wasn’t the only drama Gurira experienced when she started on the show. Playing such a highly anticipated character from the comics also had its disadvantages. “There were some guys out somewhere with very long lenses apparently,” remembers Gurira. “So there was a concern that the Michonne look would come out before they had planned for it to come out. I was being walked around with, like, umbrellas, and everything and it was so funny. I had just come from New York theater land to cover-her-up-as-she-walks-down-the-path. It was such an interesting change.”

That led to a rush photo job by the producers and AMC to scoop the fan photographers. “A lot of the shots that you see of Michonne that are used a lot are from that first day I shot,” notes Gurira, “when our wonderful in-house photographer Gene Page, and Gale Ann Hurd, and Denise [Huth] were just like, ‘Let’s just get some shots and get them out there as soon as possible!’ So I did a lot of sword moves and shots in the little corner and we got ‘em out. So it was a very interesting first day, but I instantly felt like I was with people who were pursuing excellence and were also really awesome people and a good family.”

To see Gurira discuss her first day on set, check out the video at the top of the post, and for more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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