News

David Morrissey on The Missing’s Heartbreaking Season 2 and Life After The Walking Dead

He played villain the Governor in AMC’s zombie series and chases ghosts from the past in the new season of Starz’s abduction drama.

by | February 10, 2017 | Comments

Abigail Hardingham, Keeley Hawes, David Morrissey in season 2 of The Missing (Robert Viglasky/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

Anthology series The Missing returns to Starz on February 12, with another compelling, mysterious, and heartbreaking story about child abduction.

The first season, which aired in 2014, concentrates on a British couple, who, while on vacation in France, have their only child disappear at a large public gathering. James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor brilliantly play the anguished Hughes, who are living every parent’s worst nightmare as they desperately search for their missing son.

Although they receive help from Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo), a French detective who specializes in finding missing children, the Hughes — particularly Tony Hughes — grow increasingly distraught as the leads and clues dry up. Jumping between different time frames — from the time of the abduction, to present day — we see how Tony’s desperation turns to obsession, and ultimately, how he is never able to find closure.

In Season 2, the new case centers on British girl Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham), who seemingly returns to her family after being abducted 11 years prior. Her father, Sam (David Morrissey), a British military officer stationed in Germany, and mother, Gemma (Keeley Hawes), a teacher on the base, are overwhelmed by their daughter’s return and the impact it makes on their lives. This is further complicated when Alice says she was with another missing girl, Sophie Giroux.

Detective Baptiste comes out of retirement to revisit the Giroux case he worked on years before, and together with a British military investigator on the base, Eve (Laura Fraser), they try to find Sophie and apprehend the girls’ captor. Once again using the multi–time frame device, we jump between 2014, when Alice returns, to present day and see how the events have affected the family and the community, all while trying to still solve the crime.

Morrissey recently spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about playing this broken father who is desperate to stitch his daughter and family together like it used to be and how the series so expertly weaves the emotional turmoil of a very real tragedy into a mesmerizing whodunit.

Morrissey also talks about how he still gets recognized for his work on The Walking Dead and how different the Governor is to the AMC series’ current villain, Negan.


Season 2 of The Missing (New Pictures Limited/Starz)

Kit Bowen for Rotten Tomatoes: What were your initial thoughts about this new take on child abduction?

David Morrissey: I loved the first season. I thought it was intriguing, emotional, and also the whole sense of not only a whodunit, but why was it done and where are they going.

But this season is different. It does begin with the abduction of a child, but then it’s about the return of a child. This family – mother, father, daughter, and son — the daughter is taken away 11 years before our story starts. The story starts with her walking back into their lives, and it’s about how not just the family, but how the community copes with this girl coming back into their lives.

It’s unimaginable to think about, as a parent myself, 11 years wondering what’s happened to your daughter. Where is she, is she still out there? But then to have their dreams answered, and she does walk back in, it turns out to be very complicated. It’s not the ending that they want. There’s no solace in it. The shame and guilt is magnified in this girl’s presence.

It also acts as this wedge between the mother and the father. He is so desperate for his daughter to be back, desperate to clean the slate, to start again and be a father again, to protect his daughter again. But while he is blindsided by that desire to go back to how things were, his wife is much more questioning, more suspicious of it. It’s less of a cathartic place for her, and that causes a terrible wedge between them.


avid Morrissey in season 2 of The Missing (Sophie Mutevelian/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

RT: What sort of research did you do to prepare for the role?

Morrissey: I didn’t speak with any parents, because I felt that was a little stepping over the line. There’s a sense of being not too invasive in this. Instead, I read a lot of testimonies from people that it had happened to and who had gone through it. There’re quite a few books, and one or two very famous cases in the U.K. of child abduction, in which they wrote books about their experience and heartbreaks. So I read a lot, and many of them were about people whose children were still missing. That idea of not having closure is what’s so terrible.

My character, Sam, in particular, is desperate for closure, which is the most human aspect of all us, really. We all want to make sense of stuff even when there’s no sense out there. That desire to have control over our lives and make sense of it and have some kind of closure over incidents that have happened to us sometimes drives into terrible situations with ourselves. It just makes things worse.


Keeley Hawes in season 2 of The Missing (Sophie Mutevelian/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

RT: Working with Keeley Hawes, the two of you have so many heavy scenes together. How would you get out of that space?

Morrissey: I’ve worked with Keeley before, but with this, it takes a lot out of you. Keeley and I are both parents ourselves, and the days were long and emotional. At the end of the day, we would go and sit down and just have a laugh about stuff, you know? Because it was so draining on you and asked so much of you. It was tough, so I couldn’t wish for anyone better to be in that situation than her.

RT: Sam’s relationship with Eve is also complicated. Can you talk about that?

Morrissey: Without giving too much away, their relationship was very dark and punishing. There was nothing joyous about it. It’s self-destructive. But it’s an important part of the story as well. When bad things happen like that, sometimes people want more misery. They want to heap it on. They feel they deserve it.


Abigail Hardingham, Tcheky Karyo, Laura Fraser in season 2 of The Missing (Robert Viglasky/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

RT: Besides being such a compelling mystery, it’s also a real statement on the human condition, would you agree?

Morrissey: It is. I think Sam particularly feels terrible guilt, terrible shame about what has happened. He is a soldier. He’s a man who’s used to solving problems in a manly way just through action. He’s had his nuts cut off in a way, and he doesn’t have the emotional makeup to be able to see inside, that it’s not his fault in any way. But he has to blame, he has to kick out, and for 11 years, he didn’t have anyone to blame but himself. Then once the girl comes back, he starts to blame, it starts to eat away inside him. It’s so hard seeing a man so consumed by grief and heartache.

Also when something like this happens, of course it affects the family, but it’s about how it affects the community. And how rumor, fear, gossip, the repercussions of an event like this around people and how it creates a vacuum in which evil can exist inside of. Suddenly, their whole way of viewing their life goes into a tailspin. Even for the family themselves, they get sympathy from the community, but the longer it goes on, the more suspicion falls on them. You can grieve for so long, but can’t grieve for too long, because you’re sort of affecting us now. There’s a real sense that this event is ink in the water of the community, and it just poisons everybody.


Madi Linnard in season 2 of The Missing (Sophie Mutevelian/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

RT: What an amazing job the show also does going back and forth between different time frames to create the intrigue.

Morrissey: That’s another thing I loved about this show and the first show, the multi–time frames. So you, as an audience, are watching the daughter quickly coming back into our lives, you see the impact that has on the family in 2014. Then suddenly you’re catapulted into present day, and you see my character is not only scarred emotionally, but also physically. Burn scars all over his back and face, and you go, “What happened to this guy?!”

Other characters are changed as well. The French detective Julien Baptiste goes from being a very alive, very active person to suddenly his head is shaved and he is in the middle of Iraq. He’s got this limp and it looks like he is suffering. In a very active way, you’re going, “What’s happened to these people?! What’s going on?” And then you go back to 2014, again. It’s that puzzle you get the whole time, which is a very exciting ride, I think.


Abigail Hardingham in season 2 of The Missing (Robert Viglasky/New Pictures Limited/Starz)

RT: Such a great ride. Watching the show felt very much like reading a novel, like introducing a character and then reading, “…and that’s the last time anyone saw him” and you’re yelling, “Why?!” and have to read on to find out.

Morrissey: Exactly. In the U.K., season 2 came out just before Christmas. Eight weeks before Christmas. Just walking on the streets, people would come up to me and give me their theories. They didn’t want me to tell them what’s going on, but the excitement in their eyes, where they themselves were playing detectives. And they’re saying, “I know what’s happened!” and this is this, this person is that. It was fascinating. It just caught people’s imagination. Every week on Twitter, it was the No. 1 trending topic for days afterwards. Giving their theories on what had unfolded in front of them. I think that’s such a great process to be involved with.


The Governor (David Morrissey) - The Walking Dead 408 (Gene Page/AMC)

RT: Speaking of water-cooler shows, how is life after The Walking Dead? Do you still get recognized as the Governor?

Morrissey: Look, I’m very proud of The Walking Dead. It is a world phenomenon. People mostly come up to say, “I love to hate you.” There is that sense of playing someone so horrible in that show, but the show is such a phenomenon, it’s great! But even all around the world. I was recently filming in Prague, just after The Missing, to do a show over there, just walking around the streets there, people recognized me. It’s amazing. But 99 percent of the people I meet who love the show, know it’s a show and are very complimentary about my work inside it. It’s just great to associated with something that is so popular.


RT: Right now, I’d take the Governor any day over the horrible Negan.
Morrissey: Oh, I know! [Laughs] I think the Governor could run for office tomorrow, and he might be OK. I know Jeffrey Dean Morgan, we’ve worked together, and I love him so. I’ve not seen this last season, I only saw the [Season 6] finale. But I know he’s killing it, and he’s such a great guy and great actor, so it’s wonderful to hear the reactions.

RT: Unlike Negan, though, there was always a vulnerability to the Governor. You kind of felt for him.

Morrissey: The key for me with the Governor was his daughter. It was very human thing to keep her there, and to keep her close, and to try to get back to some normality. Even though it was quite weird, him combing her hair and stuff like that, but he wanted to keep her close. That’s very human, loving thing.

Of course, then events played into his hands, and he turned totally psychotic but what was so great in the writing, is that in Season 4 when he comes back, he’s a man who has changed. He’s a man who is trying to fight the dark side, and loses that fight, but that’s why he doing it. He’s not indulging the dark side, he just knows it’s there.

The Missing season 2 premieres Sunday, February 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Starz; all episodes will be available on demand and on the Starz app on the day of the premiere


Tag Cloud

asian-american Polls and Games anthology Pet Sematary Mary Poppins Returns satire Extras BET Awards Disney+ Disney Plus President south america GIFs romantic comedy game show comics cancelled TV shows 4/20 VH1 Interview Set visit robots Shudder Infographic versus natural history Comics on TV TV rotten Writers Guild of America MCU Christmas video on demand Drama Netflix Comedy zombies Apple TV Plus police drama CBS zombie NYCC Family serial killer christmas movies unscripted YouTube Premium Marathons Kids & Family Trivia binge screenings Biopics Endgame all-time Freeform sag awards cancelled TV series remakes Musical mission: impossible Video Games TV Land spain cops justice league The Walking Dead venice zero dark thirty OWN BBC renewed TV shows television franchise Star Wars spinoff revenge NBC criterion Paramount Network dceu TIFF Turner Classic Movies 2017 directors Disney Plus Martial Arts Calendar cults WGN historical drama dc X-Men cooking Masterpiece GLAAD 45 theme song Hallmark Christmas movies pirates of the caribbean crime drama best Mystery TCA 2017 Baby Yoda science fiction El Rey period drama hist blockbuster SDCC child's play Mudbound romance Cosplay Awards WarnerMedia mutant PlayStation Crackle Marvel Shondaland golden globe awards The Purge Academy Awards crime thriller Super Bowl DC Universe E3 true crime war indie Fantasy archives YouTube Red SXSW Disney streaming service Spectrum Originals Nat Geo Apple anime YA doctor who nature 2020 psycho sequel Red Carpet festivals TBS adventure Sony Pictures dark Trophy Talk Animation golden globes USA Network Valentine's Day 2019 Spring TV Anna Paquin Amazon Studios CNN Rom-Com FOX spider-man Nominations spanish language Food Network Lifetime Oscars black Pride Month The Witch Grammys Dark Horse Comics ratings canceled Western Funimation Captain marvel twilight Lionsgate CW Seed Classic Film hollywood 20th Century Fox BET Disney 99% A&E rom-coms trailers critics cartoon Television Academy See It Skip It HBO Go movies classics Hulu 2018 toronto Logo ABC Election parents Discovery Channel Walt Disney Pictures Paramount Trailer based on movie scorecard video Marvel Television slashers Character Guide First Reviews 24 frames cats Sundance Now Lucasfilm History dragons french comic books social media Reality GoT New York Comic Con Rocky Spike RT History Britbox TCA Winter 2020 dramedy stop motion BBC America Warner Bros. SundanceTV a nightmare on elm street foreign The Arrangement The Walt Disney Company Alien boxing mockumentary VICE diversity worst movies Black History Month aliens Peacock disaster free movies CMT Pop TV Winter TV james bond laika animated movie Brie Larson Sci-Fi ID RT21 Reality Competition Adult Swim werewolf DGA Premiere Dates Holidays game of thrones festival talk show BBC One finale Sundance TV die hard discovery 007 Stephen King halloween tv latino Tubi Superheroes TV One BAFTA toy story breaking bad strong female leads Epix concert miniseries Columbia Pictures Ovation The CW space Turner Syfy Horror LGBT stoner Vudu TruTV hispanic documentaries The Academy rt archives San Diego Comic-Con MTV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sports HBO Max superhero series cancelled Pirates ghosts children's TV Emmys Photos emmy awards HBO Arrowverse australia scary movies Crunchyroll singing competition japanese fresh Fall TV Emmy Nominations 21st Century Fox Country AMC psychological thriller italian Tarantino Sundance jurassic park tv talk Action travel Starz 71st Emmy Awards chucky composers Nickelodeon YouTube indiana jones Awards Tour Certified Fresh Thanksgiving IFC reviews E! 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards jamie lee curtis Universal Marvel Studios obituary canceled TV shows crossover Holiday DC Comics Avengers Netflix Christmas movies IFC Films women TCA APB Winners dogs Cartoon Network Rock VOD Mary Tyler Moore comiccon Binge Guide cinemax Pixar Sneak Peek Musicals elevated horror A24 Disney Channel name the review facebook TLC nfl Superheroe Box Office fast and furious Amazon Prime Video USA Amazon news politics ESPN Apple TV+ Acorn TV FX LGBTQ Creative Arts Emmys spanish green book Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt thriller American Society of Cinematographers vampires blaxploitation Mindy Kaling Black Mirror political drama worst Countdown witnail Summer Fox News Rocketman football kids Song of Ice and Fire Travel Channel ViacomCBS comedies sitcom teaser Paramount Plus TCM TV renewals ABC Family Podcast Esquire Schedule Lifetime Christmas movies Toys Bravo OneApp Best and Worst PBS FXX Heroines technology ITV halloween medical drama PaleyFest boxoffice Music independent TCA Awards Tomatazos Film Festival Opinion crime ABC Signature screen actors guild 72 Emmy Awards Watching Series DC streaming service Fox Searchlight richard e. Grant Hallmark Cannes book documentary FX on Hulu 2015 comic Year in Review 2016 National Geographic Comic Book harry potter CBS All Access Ghostbusters quibi Pop sequels transformers Showtime DirecTV spy thriller adaptation Mary poppins deadpool Quiz casting nbcuniversal Ellie Kemper docudrama supernatural cancelled television Amazon Prime Film batman Teen universal monsters Star Trek rotten movies we love stand-up comedy Television Critics Association Elton John what to watch streaming reboot cars films Comedy Central award winner TNT MSNBC biography First Look Chernobyl joker Tumblr Hear Us Out Women's History Month