The Walking Dead has cast Oscar-nominee Samantha Morton in the role of Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers, creator Robert Kirkman confirmed during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The addition of Alpha comes as The Walking Dead undergoes major changes going into season 9, including the departure of series lead Andrew Lincoln, and a big time jump following season 8’s "All Out War" arc. The show has also cast Nadia Hilker as Magna, a member of a survivor group discovered by Rick and company.
In the comics, The Whisperers are a band of survivors who wear the skin of humans in order to evade detection by the roaming walker herds. There's long been speculation that The Whisperers would eventually debut on the Walking Dead TV series, and now it’s confirmed that the new threat will indeed arrive, even as former main villain Negan languishes in prison following his defeat at the end of season 8. Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has promised a female-centric season 9, and indeed the arrival of Alpha gives the show its most formidable - and villainous - female character yet.
As reported by THR, Samantha Morton will take on the role of Alpha as The Walking Dead heads into its next chapter. In addition, the show will also introduce several more characters familiar from the comics. Among the new additions is survivor character Magna, played by Nadia Hilker (via The Wrap). Other new cast adds include Angel Theory as Kelly, Zach McGowen and Rhys Coiro as rebellious ex-Saviors Justin and Jed, Brett Butler as Hilltopper Tammy Rose, and John Finn as Tammy Rose's husband Earl.
In Samantha Morton, The Walking Dead snags an admired actress with a pair of Oscar nominations to her name, for Best Supporting Actress in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown, and for Best Actress in In America. More recently, Morton starred in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The casting of Morton ends speculation about TWD's Jadis taking on the role of Alpha on the series. There had also been speculation about Fear the Walking Dead's Madison becoming Alpha, before the character was killed off. Nadia Hilker meanwhile is known for roles in the CW series The 100, as well as the films Allegiant and Collide.
Thanks to the just released season 9 trailer, Walking Dead fans have already gotten their first glimpse of many new characters, including Magna and Luke (Fantastic Beasts actor Dan Fogler), as well as Connie, played by deaf actress Lauren Ridloff. Samantha Morton's Alpha, however, does not appear in the trailer, as TWD clearly wants to give her as big an entrance as possible. It'll be interesting to see how the show handles the arrival of its newest major villain, after the massive backlash that ensued following Negan's bloody intro. In the comics, Alpha is arguably even more brutal and horrific than Negan. At any rate, The Walking Dead will have to make major alterations to the printed Alpha storyline, as Carl is no longer on the series to fall in love with Alpha's daughter Lydia.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 on AMC.