“I’ve always said, she’s smarter than me, she’s faster than me, and she’s stronger than me. So I had to step into her agility and power.” – Danai Gurira on Playing Michonne
With the fate of Danai Gurira‘s The Walking Dead character now revealed after the episode “What We Become,” it has given the actor-playwright time to reflect on the character that she has played on the hit AMC series for eight seasons. She spoke to the New York Times about what she learned from portraying the character as well as the interesting way she trained with the character’s trademark sword.
Gurira says that she has learned from Michonne, who is a very different person than she is. She explains, “Michonne was very much someone I had to step up to, especially when she started to grow into herself and step away from her demons. When she became an item with Rick, Michonne was kind of more cool, and Rick was hot. The way she handles and assesses and comes to clarity about things — I’ve always said, she’s smarter than me, she’s faster than me, and she’s stronger than me. So I had to step into her agility and power. I always felt like I could learn from her as a woman, you know?”
One major way that Gurira is different from Michonne? Gurira had to train extensively to portray an expert swordswoman. In fact, she did much of her training during a run of a play she had written, The Convert, while it was staged in Los Angeles. She reveals, “I was in the basement of the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, and I had a practice sword made of wood. So I would be talking about the language components of the play while learning how to move my body with the sword. It was on my mind all the time. I felt like I needed to become one with … not only with the character, but with how she moves and how her weapon moves in her hand. I create black female characters, and I’d never imagined a woman like this. So I wanted to give her my all, to do her justice. I would practice with the sword during every break, and I would constantly go back to the trainer to learn more. It was never, ‘Oh, I’m great at this now.’ It was a constant learning curve.”