When we last saw Simon on The Walking Dead, he was making gruesome threats towards Maggie, forcing the Hilltop to produce for him, and killing a guy named Neil. And yet, actor Steven Ogg insists that Simon isn't a bad guy; he's just maybe not a good guy. Negan's second-in-command wasn't seen in last week's midseason premiere, but he promises he will return in the March 4 episode, "The Lost and the Plunderers."
SYFY WIRE spoke with Ogg ahead of Simon's return about his character's life before the zombie apocalypse, his chance for redemption, and, of course, that mustache.
Where is Simon when we return for the second half of the season?
Steven Ogg: You know... busy little boy... that Simon is such a busy little boy. When people talk about, "Why don't we see more Simon and Negan together?" and all of that... I say it's because Simon is trusted. Simon is off doing his thing. There are so many outposts — there is so much to get done — that Simon is just off doing his thing! He's getting things done! We don't get to see it but he's doing his thing.
When we last saw Simon, he was threatening Maggie, warning her the Hilltop needs to keep producing. Where does the arc of that storyline go?
With Maggie, I think it was a lot of peacocking. He doesn't kill her, he just wants to send that message of, "Hey woman." I shouldn't say that; nowadays that has connotations of like, "Oh, he's a misogynist!" It's just more like, "Hey. I'm gonna give you this message and let you know this is the way it is." It's more of just a threat.
In your mind, who was Simon before the zombie apocalypse?
[Showrunner Scott] Gimple and I had a bit of a talk about what we feel his backstory is. We sort of came to this idea that he was possibly... you know that sub-prime mortgage fiasco? Not necessarily that, not necessarily Glengarry Glen Ross, but that kind of thing. He was probably selling stuff and feeling completely justified doing it, and just doing his thing. Something similar to that, selling a jumbo mortgage to someone who really shouldn't have it. He would feel completely justified because "Hey, I'm just doing my job." Like a criminal defense attorney who says, "Hey, someone's gotta represent them." He did somewhat of a douchey job.
So in your mind, Simon was never a "good guy." He didn't turn bad after he met Negan?
Yeah. I don't even know if he's bad. Again, I don't think he looks at himself as being bad. He's just doing this job the way he sees fit. These people, like in The Big Short and all, they didn't think they were necessarily bad people. I don't think Simon feels that way. He wasn't an evil person; he was just doing these things and he thinks it's okay. He's constantly just doing stuff to survive, doing what he has to. If they started the world, then Rick's group would be the bad guys.
Do you feel like there is any chance for Simon to join Rick's group and become a productive part of the new society?
Become part of Rick's group. It's so tough to say.
I think he's comfortable where he's at. I don't think he would do that, honestly. He's had that one little interaction with Rick, and he certainly liked to screw around with Rick. I always remember that the first time in seven years that Andrew [Lincoln] broke was in that scene because I kept screwing around with him so much. I was doing some pretty silly things. But you never know. I think on the right day, in the right place, I think anyone can be persuaded if it serves their needs to survive.
Simon is probably the closest thing to a second-in-command to Negan that there is. Is that going to help him or backfire on him?
I think it's always been a benefit to Simon. It's not that he's incapable of leading. He simply doesn't want that attention. He gets a lot more done. I think it benefits him to actually be second-in-command. He doesn't have the attention on him. There is a lot more one can do when the focus is not entirely on you. I think second-in-command only strengthens Simon and behooves him to remain in that position. You step up to the front of the stage, all eyes are on you. He enjoys being back there, doing his thing.
Can you give us an idea of what Simon's arc will be for the rest of the season?
Utterly epic! Incredible! His hair does not move in a single episode! He still finds the hairspray and gel. Mustache is spot-on.
Simon gets to go out. We get to see more of "Where is Simon, what is Simon doing." We get to follow his trails on the road, like what he sees when he visits Jadis and the Heapsters. We get to see a little more of where this right-hand man has been since we never saw him around much. He's got this outpost, and there he is, visiting these other communities and get a sense of what everyone is doing.
Whenever we see Simon, it's mostly because he pops up to cause trouble, then he disappears. He's kind of like the boogeyman.
Yeah! It's a little strange. "I'm just over here, stirring the pot."
Anything else you want to spoil for the rest of the season?
Oh, I'm gonna spoil everything! I've already spoiled the drug cartel coming in. It's a whole kind of Narcos crossover. I'm kidding! I'm kidding. You know how it is, interviewing all of us. We can only say certain things, so I'm always like, "Yeah, then the aliens land."
As an interviewer, there are only so many questions I can ask!
That's why I like to lie! I like to make up stories and bullshit my way through it. I will give you one thing: There are zombies. Zombies make an appearance in the second half of Season 8 of The Walking Dead. I said it first, you heard it here first! I'm giving that to you as an exclusive. Because I like you.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9PM on AMC.