He's the "Walking Dead" character who's just as nasty as Negan, just with fewer responsibilities.
That would be Simon, the Survivors bullying, peacocking second-in-command, played with sinister relish by Steven Ogg. He co-stars in the series' seventh season, now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital.
It's been a banner year for Ogg, who also had his share of screen time on HBO's "Westworld," and he sat down with Moviefone to recount the creation of nasty Simon, his as-yet-undepicted backstory (wouldn't you just know Simon sold subprime mortgages before the zombie apocalypse), and what's ahead with Simon and Negan's "Plan B."
Moviefone: It is no small feat to create a villain that stands out against Negan. Given that you had, of course, the writing to start from, how did you create Simon?
Steven Ogg: Simon was created for me. It's a product of the words and how fortunate we are on that show to have such amazing writers. I'm a big believer of "its all about the words." So when you are given these delicious words to say, and the way Simon speaks and the words and phrases he uses, it's all right there. So when you're given that, your job as an actor is easy.
What was the aspect of Simon that you really latched onto and said: "Yeah, I can do something with this?"
The way he speaks, the way he talks and teases and has fun -- and in a world like that, to have sort of that level of bullying -- it's very interesting. It's like: "What are you getting at, man? Why are you being such a d**k?"
I read that you came up with a bit of a backstory for Simon. Tell me a little bit about where that inspiration came from.
Scott Gimple and I were talking and I was like, "What is his backstory? Go through the backstory," because not being in the comics means there is no blueprint for him. We were sort of talking about "Glengarry Glen Ross," and that combined with "The Big Short." So the idea of someone like Simon being a character who might have been one of those f**king d-bags that sold subprime mortgages and did all this s**t. And living in New York, I went through it. I knew these people, I saw these people. They really didn't believe they were doing anything wrong.
I believe Negan in the comic books was a gym teacher. And so Simon is like the guy who does these things, that it's a job for him. He doesn't really see anything wrong with it. Like a criminal defense lawyer, right? Someone defending pedophiles, some disgusting human beings. How do you do it? Well, someone has to.
You've paid your dues as an actor, and now you have a year like this last one, where you've had a great character to play on "The Walking Dead," and also you had "Westworld." Tell me what that sort of extraordinary opportunity has meant to you.
It's been wonderful. The universe is always balancing everything out. So the attention and the notoriety doesn't appeal to me. I've just always wanted to work. I'm only gonna be better if I work with better people, and so the opportunity to work with these people and to be on these sets has just been great. I'm very grateful and very blessed, and I feel very fortunate to do it.
Simon looks to be pretty integral to the next season. What can you tease about him and perhaps "Plan B?"
Well, in Season Eight, Simon takes over the entire world, he kills everyone and it becomes sort of a rom-com. He falls in love with a zombie.
You guys are going to win all thee Emmys!
[Laughs] No, it's gonna be huge! Oh, it's huge. Good Lord! It's fun -- [the new season] is a lot of fun and sh** goes down. We're on to more solid matters and it is all-out war. And the show changes and it gets fun, it gets crazy. Hopefully, the bar will be raised and everyone should enjoy it.