We’ve already gotten our first look at The Walking Dead’s newest villain, Alpha. And a super gross look it was, as the leader of the Whisperers sewed together a zombie skin mask and then put it in on her face… as one does.

But what lies underneath the mask? Samantha Morton will be playing the new big bad, and we got the intel from showrunner Angela Kang on what to expect from both the actress and the character when she finally steps on screen during The Walking Dead’s second half of season 9 (which returns Feb. 10 on AMC).

Credit: AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what do you want to say about the villains we met in the Whisperers?
ANGELA KANG: Well, the second half of season 9, we really dive deeper into the story of the Whisperers. At the end of the first half, obviously, we get this reveal that these zombies are not evolving, that they are some sort of strange human threat. We’ll get to know more about this group and their brutal survival of the fittest philosophy and how that really plays out in horrifying ways.

We will get to meet the amazing Samantha Morton as Alpha and Ryan Hurst as Beta, as our heroes are really grappling with how to deal with a threat that’s unlike anything they’ve ever faced with people with such a different philosophy. They’re also just trying to figure out how they need to interact with each other in this world as they face more and more problems and challenges related to both this new threat and some of the other obstacles that they face in this world. We’ll continue to see the effects that nature has on our people, as things start to break down and they deal with the problems that come up as a result of these things.

We’ve talked before about the Whisperers, but not a lot about the leaders, Alpha and Beta. What can you say about those two, specifically, in terms of what makes them so different and formidable?
Part of the story will reveal — pretty early on in the back half of the season — the way that Alpha thinks and the way that she moves about the world. I think what is really interesting about them is that to put on the skin of a dead person and walk around in the world and walk around amidst walkers, that really takes a certain kind of a person.

It’s this amazing idea from the comics and we really delve deep into what that means. It really takes a pretty brutal philosophy to believe that it’s not even worth trying to be something that approximates human in the way that we think of it. I think that really brings them right up against the things that our people are thinking about as they’re trying to rebuild something that’s like a civilization, and just the fact that this group just doesn’t even think any of that is worth preserving. It’s something that’s really dangerous for our people to grapple with.

It seems like that falls in line with the whole decay that you guys have shown in terms of the passage of time in season 9.
Yeah, it really plays well to the overall themes we’re exploring this season, just with the world falling apart a little bit more as the days and the years pass. Our people try and fight that tide by trying to rebuild, and they’re seeing that some people have decided to take completely the opposite tack, which is something that gives them pause in moments. They’re not a group that can be reasoned with in some of the same ways that some other villains have been that they’ve encountered in the past.

What can you say about Samantha Morton in this role of Alpha?
She’s fantastic. I’m so surprised by the things that she does, in a way where I’m like, “That’s so much better than what I imagined this woman could be.” She’s just such an interesting and deep actor. We’ve really loved having her. She’s so nice, too. Could not be a nicer person. The entire cast just loves her. The crew loves her. She’s been absolutely wonderful and such a good presence to have and very serious about what she does, in the best way. She deep-dives, man. She’s awesome.

For more Walking Dead news, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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The Walking Dead

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

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