Every fan of The Walking Dead knows that Michonne is a certified badass. This may vary by degrees depending on whether we’re talking about Robert Kirkman’s comics, or AMC’s hit television show where actress Danai Gurira portrays the katana-wielding character, but I stand by this statement across the board. When the zombie drama returns to the airwaves—or cable feeds, as is the case—on Sunday, October 13, she’ll still be a badass, but this time she’ll have a horse.
Opting for a different mode of transportation makes a great deal of sense after the whole world goes to hell. There aren’t exactly gas stations on every corner anymore, and now that the dead have risen and are walking around, there are a finite number of fan belts left in the world. All the cars are bound for the scrap heap eventually. This is a fact that has been noted by producers and creators. For Gurira, however, this equine edition to the cast has also been a big change, and a challenge. Michonne may be comfortable on horseback, but the actress that plays her, not so much.
Talking to EW, the 35-year-old Gurira shared her trepidation over her character’s new method of transportation, as well as the process she undertook to become a more competent equestrian. She said, “I learned how to ride a damn horse and I didn’t know how to ride a horse, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to know how to ride a horse for the show, and there’s no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes about it. So, I’ve got to figure this mess out.”
This was a more difficult task than she immediately thought. She expected to be able to climb on her new pal, who bears the name Flame in the show, and get down to business. Yeah, that’s not how it went. We are, after all, talking about a very large animal that is a great deal stronger than you, and holding you way off of the damn ground. Initially, Gurira learned to ride western style while The Walking Dead was on hiatus. The only problem with that was, when she arrived on the Georgian set, they were riding English. How big a difference is there between the two schools? Big enough to cause problems, that’s for sure.
Ultimately, she had to buck up. She continued:
Then it was just crunch time, and I was like, I’ve just got to do this. It’s man over beast. I realize I’ve been given dominion over the animals and I’m going to take my dominion. I took advice from so many different people. I took it all. I put it all in the pot and somehow the day before we were shooting I was galloping.
In the end, she wound up loving the feeling, communing with her new hoofed friend. She found the experience freeing, not just functional, and sees why it appeals to her onscreen alter ego, saying, “It’s like going into her man cave.”