Warning! Spoilers for “The Walking Dead” below.
Everyone loses their head now and then, but according to “Walking Dead” star Samantha Morton, the tough part is what comes after.
Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead” was a bloodbath in the aftermath of the Whisperer attack on Hilltop. Gamma (Thora Birch) was killed by Beta (Ryan Hurst), Earl (John Finn) was killed by zombies and then re-killed by Judith (Cailey Fleming), and, in an iconic comic book moment brought to life, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) finally killed the Whisperers’ leader, Alpha (Morton).
In the closing moments of the episode, Negan tricked Alpha into thinking he was leading her to her daughter, Lydia (Cassady McClincy), whom he had captured earlier in the episode. In a twist, it was revealed Lydia was safe at another location, and Negan slit Alpha’s throat, giving her one last kiss on the lips before lopping off her noggin.
But wait, everyone. It was a double twist. In a final surprising scene, Negan delivered the severed head to Carol (Melissa McBride), who it seems secretly sent the former Savior-leader on a mission to kill Alpha in the first place.
“Took you long enough,” she said.
The whole episode was pretty shocking, except to Morton, apparently. In an interview with HuffPost, the actor reflected on waiting for her death scene since she started on “Walking Dead,” not being fazed by surprising moments in the show and why playing a decapitated head is the worst.
What was your reaction to learning about Alpha’s death scene?
My reaction was when I got the part, because [showrunner Angela Kang] told me very early on how Alpha would die. I knew. I’ve known the whole time, and I suppose you’re just waiting for that episode to land on your door, when the time is coming. So there was no surprise for me. Yeah, I just felt like I had this kind of cheeky secret, but it wasn’t really a secret because people were thinking it was going to happen anyway. They don’t always do what’s in the comics, but with this, they were pretty sure that would be the route they wanted to take.
What’s it like shooting it and getting your head cut off?
Well, it was the first time I used blood like that kind of blood rig, and I was a bit scared of it. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan and [director Greg Nicotero], everybody was just looking after me like I was a baby, which was amazing because I felt like a child. I was really scared of it all, and they were like, “It’s fine,” and it was amazing in the end. I was really proud that I did it. It was good.
And then after you’re dead, Negan kisses you. Did Negan actually care for Alpha?
You have to ask Jeffrey Dean Morgan about Negan with that one, but I think that they genuinely had a connection, yeah. I think the apocalypse did something quite strange to Alpha’s brain when it happened, and her survival and her spirituality and how she wanted to look after her daughter and how she would go to any lengths to protect her daughter and to protect the survival of the Whisperers ... She wanted a man with a backbone. She wanted a man who had that kind of personality. They were kind of two peas from the same pod.
What was it like playing a decapitated head?
That was horrible. I’ll never do that again. I didn’t enjoy at all the green screen stuff. It’s just horrible. I don’t like it. But I did it.
Oh, why? Did they do a mold, or was it mostly green screen?
They did the mold of my head a long time ago because they had to make my Whisperer mask, but, yeah, you know, you’re just there doing, “Rawwrr,” whatever, with a green screen. It’s like — it is what it is. You know, it’s not my thing. I don’t think I could do it for a long time.
It was pretty wild that Negan gives Carol your head, revealing that they were in cahoots. What were your thoughts on that happening?
I’m a bit of a funny one really, because I just kind of go with the flow. I’m like, “OK, that’s happening.” Because there’s such crazy stuff happening all the time. Do you know what I mean? So you’re like, “OK. That’s what we’re doing.” [laughs]
I had to kill like nine characters when I arrived, pretty much. I mean, that was pretty horrible. That wasn’t fun, but you just do it. And then fans get really upset, and you’re like, “It’s not me!”
What has the fan reaction been like for you?
I love the fans’ reaction. They love to hate her. I don’t think they just hate her. Well, some of them do. But they love to hate her.
Did they? I don’t know what fans do online. I joined Instagram like last year, and that’s my new thing. And I’ve really enjoyed it, but I’m really rubbish at posting photos. I’m not very technologically minded. So no, I didn’t know that fan reaction to that.
Oh, yeah. Also, how bad did Negan smell in that scene? Because didn’t you push him into poop earlier in the episode?
Maybe they have some showers somewhere? I don’t know. I don’t think Alpha really cares.
You made Alpha an iconic antagonist on the show. When you’re looking back, what are you proudest of? What are you taking away?
I think I just take away this overwhelming feeling of just being honored to be given the role, to be trusted with the role, because the show means so much to so many people and so many individuals ― Andrew Lincoln being one of them, Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira of course ― everybody that has been on the show forever, spent years of their life on the show ― Angela, the writers, the director, the crew. Certainly, given such an iconic role, you want to get it right. And so I’ll take away that feeling of overwhelming pride that I did a good job, that they were happy, because I only ever wanted to make them happy — my boss, the fans. And I think I did that. I hope I did that.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.