English actress Samantha Morton has received many accolades over her career. She has been regarded as one of the best actors our generation has produced, which she has proven with her many award nominations and wins. But those of us here in America may not know much of her work, as many of her projects occur on the other side of the pond. One project we are fully aware of though is Morton’s turn as Alpha on The Walking Dead. It was creepy, weird (in a good way weird can be), and most definitely a pick-me-up for a show that was flagging.
Samantha Morton’s character has been killed off on The Walking Dead. Here’s where she’s been and where she’s going next now that her run is done.
WHERE SHE’S BEEN
Samantha Morton has been on screens for nearly 30 years. She started back in 1991 on the British TV series Soldier Soldier. From there, Morton would focus mostly on British cinema and television. Her next few years revolved mainly around TV with appearances on Boon, The Token King, Peak Practice, Cracker, The Vet, and Band of Gold. None of these should sound familiar as they were all British series which did not cross over outside the country.
Morton began to get major recognition with 1997’s Under the Skin, where she played a woman dealing with the death of her mother. She won three separate awards for her performance and so impressed controversial director/writer Woody Allen that he cast her in his 1999 movie Sweet and Lowdown, where Samantha Morton starred opposite Sean Penn. The movie was a romantic comedy and for Morton’s part, she played Mattie, a mute laundress. She did not speak a single word in the movie and for her amazing performance, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her role also garnered her many nominations with a single win at the London Film Critics Circle Awards for British Supporting Actress of the Year.
Samantha Morton’s career would continue but perhaps not as you’d expect. With the recognition she had been receiving, one would think she’d be looking for bigger films, bigger budgets, more recognition. But that wasn’t the case.
True, she did star opposite Tom Cruise in Minority Report, but for the most part, Morton spent much of her time on small, independent movies. She thrived in her career on these small movies. While she may not have gained popular recognition with her movies, critically she was at the forefront, nabbing many nominations and awards for her portrayal in these films.
HER #METOO MOMENT
Samantha Morton thinks that maybe she could have been the first to speak up and talk back as part of the #MeToo movement. In 2003, Morton was to star in the Terry Gilliam film The Brothers Grimm. But then she didn’t. The reason, well, was because Harvey Weinstein told Gilliam not to hire her. But why would he tell the director not to hire Samantha Morton? It was alleged that Weinstein told Gilliam not to hire her because men would not “want to fuck that.”
Samantha Morton recalled her reaction to The Guardian, “I just remember thinking, it’s a shame you behave this way. You’re older than me, you have this vast power. But if someone is bullying you, you have to do something, don’t you?” Then it occurred to her. “Maybe I was the first person to publicly answer him back.”
This moment may be the reason Samantha Morton has chosen the roles she has, filming so many independent films. She seems to agree, “I like being on the outskirts. When I was younger and the chance came along to be, for want of a better word, a movie star, I declined. So, with Weinstein, although I knew he was a bully, I wasn’t aware of the rest of it. I kept that world of his away from me.”
She speaks slower now, double-checking every word. “I don’t know if people have noticed, but I have been very quiet about Harvey Weinstein, and very quiet about Me Too. And it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’ve cared about this since before I could speak. It’s very close to home.”
By close to home, Samantha Morton is referring to her revelation that she had been sexually abused as a child. It was, again, to The Guardian she spoke with about the abuse, “It’s very simple. Sexual abuse is not something to ever be dismissed. If somebody says another person has done something to them, we listen. It is a duty.” She has since been extremely picky about who she works with.
SAMANTHA MORTON MAY HAVE FAKED A STROKE
Samantha Morton’s career has been marked with highs and thankfully not too many lows. Yes, her dealing with Weinstein most definitely is a low. The actress also recalls the time a director called for her to take off her bra so he could see her nipples. “I remember working on one particular movie, and the director had a megaphone and said, ‘Take off your bra. I want to see your nipples,’” Morton recalled via Vanity Fair. “I went ballistic, walked over to him and I said, ‘Don’t you ever talk to me like that again,’ and really gave him the what for.… I’ve been fired from shows for being too fat—I was like, ‘Well, you knew what I looked like when you hired me.’” And then there was the time the ceiling fell on her, literally.
“A piece of 17th-century plaster fell on my head. I went to the hospital and everything was OK, and then it wasn’t. I spent a long time in rehab learning how to walk and getting better, and then went straight off to make Synecdoche, New York.” Samantha Morton was in the middle of renovating her home when the freak accident happened.
She told the Observer Music Monthly via People that “I was near to death. I had a stroke at the beginning of 2006.” It was so bad that it took her over a year to learn to walk again. She didn’t work for 18 months. She was forced to pull out of a starring role opposite Woody Harrelson in the movie Transsiberian. But with the help of her close friend, Jason Pierce, Morton finally got back on her feet again.
Even though the story has a positive ending for Samantha Morton, some are calling bullshit on her diagnosis. “I was gobsmacked when I read what she said. Look, no one is accusing Sam of making it up. It’s just that she can get a bit carried away sometimes.” This came, via Daily Mail, from a close associate of Morton’s. It’s the timeframe that “friends” question, plus the lack of Samantha Morton discussing her serious, near death, injury with them.
Samantha Morton claims the injury came early in 2007, though her spokesman says it was Christmas of 2006. If Morton took an 18-month hiatus, how was she able to make two movies in the few months following her reported accident? Plus, her social life didn’t suffer in the least. She was seen arriving at a West End stage play. Later that evening she was spotted at a party with actress Helena Bonham Carter. Later in the week, she was seen out at another party at an East London Gallery. Then she was spotted with Rosamund Pike at a Kensington fashion show. So, did she? Didn’t she?
SAMANTHA MORTON ON THE WALKING DEAD
Samantha Morton is now known best as Alpha. It was a great role she couldn’t pass on. And yes, she knew from the get-go that she was going to lose her head. It did nothing to stop her from taking the role though. “Well, I kind of always knew because when I was in discussions with [showrunner] Angela [Kang] under the early stages if I potentially was going to play Alpha, it was very clear that this character would have her head chopped off. So it kind of … I always knew. Yeah, I just knew,” she confessed to Insider.
It was a death that mirrored the comic in which Negan took her out. But there was another scene with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that truly raised some eyebrows and dropped some jaws. That infamous sex scene.
Was she nervous? You bet she was nervous. Samantha Morton’s first reaction was “It just made me laugh, in a sweet way. Like, “Oh OK, they get it. OK, all right then. OK, we’re doing that. That’s what we’re doing.” But this reaction gave into nerves when the cameras finally started rolling on it. “Yeah, I was quite nervous that day. I kept forgetting my lines and Jeffrey was just kind and patient with me. I just kept forgetting my lines. I think it’s because sometimes when you’re in the mask, your head gets so hot and it’s really hard for your concentration. And anyone who’s ever played a walker or anything like that will hopefully know what I’m talking about, but you kind of get a bit of brain fog because you get hot. And I was nervous.”
She got through it, viewers squirmed their way through it, and Samantha Morton’s Alpha lost her head. All’s well that ends well.
SAMANTHA MORTON NOW
Now 43-years-old, Samantha Morton has been in a relationship with Harry Holm (son of Ian Holm) since 2007. They have two children together, a daughter born in 2008 and a son born in 2012. When not traveling for work, Samantha lives with her family in Derbyshire.
Having a family, however, hasn’t slowed down her career. So, what does an actress do after her head rolls? Well, since The Walking Dead was pretty much her last role, Samantha Morton barely has had time to start working on other projects. She did
She does, though, plan on growing her hair out a little bit more, “I’ve grown it back a bit, but I think I’ll keep it short for a little bit because I don’t know, I quite like it short.” She hasn’t had her hair long since she finished filming the TV show Harlots (pictured above) back in 2019. Harlots, by the way, is still airing new episodes featuring Morton.
Other than the hair, “…I’m writing. I directed a movie a few years ago and I’ve been in development. I’m writing a TV series and I’m writing my next movie.” She also has her next starring gig lined up, playing Urania Blackwell in the upcoming series, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.