Mega-spoilers ahead for folks who aren’t caught up on the latest episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Andrew Lincoln has been a major part of The Walking Dead since the very beginning of the hit AMC drama. His name is now synonymous with that of fictional sheriff Rick Grimes and just as integral to the success of the franchise as its creators Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. Now, as Collider originally reported exclusively back in May, Lincoln has indeed departed the post-apocalyptic survival show … but it is not the end of Rick Grimes, nor is it the end of Lincoln’s portrayal of the character.
As was revealed shortly after the recent episode’s closing moments, current TWD content-shaper Scott Gimple has bold and ambitious plans for the franchise and for Lincoln’s place in it. A trilogy of films centering on Rick Grimes and his journey–wherever and whenever it may take him–is in the works, but that’s just the start of the planned expansion of the undead universe. (Keep an eye out for more news on that subject.) Lincoln obviously had some thoughts, feelings, and insights to share on this whole new revelation, some of which we’ve provided below.
Here’s what Lincoln had to say about the fate of Rick Grimes right after the airing of “What Comes After” on Talking Dead:
“It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of the beginning. And I like the idea that we get to tell a bigger story, maybe with a sort of wider vista. And I’ve always been interested in what’s going on out there, you know, whether or not there is contact with the wider world. I want to know the meta of it all. And I suppose to be able to kind of touch upon that in a contained story for me is a very exciting proposition … Maybe it’s the start of a bigger story.”
That bigger story includes the aforementioned Rick-centric movies, but it also goes far behind Lincoln’s character to include those in his orbit and even some folks from far beyond it. In an interview with THR, Lincoln addressed his final episode on the flagship series, his future in the franchise, and more; we’ve highlighted some of his comments below. (If you want some specific on-set and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, be sure to click through to read the interview.):
Here’s how the latest news came to be, in Lincoln’s words:
It goes back quite a way. Scott and I spoke in season four — and we share a similar domestic situation in that we both have young families and we were plotting out the rough shape of the next potentially two, three and four years of our lives. We plucked a number out of the air which sounded quite reasonable: if we could make it to season eight. That coincided with my personal reasons — which, on my end, are that kids become less portable as they get older. And yet there was a part of me that thought, “I don’t think I’m done with the guy.” I love this character [of Rick Grimes]; I love the world that we inhabit. So why don’t we try to potentially continue this story in a different way and maybe complete his story so the mothership can continue.
Lincoln also commented on the novel approach to spinning a cable TV show protagonist off into his own movie-verse:
There were many iterations of the story and it became rather late last year that this [came together] because it was a pipe dream. I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do this.” It’s never been done by a cable TV channel and I didn’t think it would come to much. Quite astonishingly, at the end of last year they said let’s go for it. This organically grew out from last year. There were versions [of the episode] that Rick wasn’t going to make it. But thankfully it went this way!
You might have caught that part where Lincoln said “versions that Rick wasn’t going to make it”, meaning … was Rick originally intended to die?
Yes. There were many iterations [of Rick’s endgame]. A lot of it was down to the good people at AMC, who just said no and they thought it would be an interesting and exciting proposition to expand rather than contract the show. Realistically, this decision was all about time. For me to want to do a limited number of episodes [of The Walking Dead] a year wouldn’t feel like I was doing my job properly because playing this part has been so all-encompassing. I think I would get frustrated with that. So the idea of being able to contain the story and still work just as hard and tell a different story in maybe a more expansive narrative way seemed very exciting to me.
Though it’s early going for Rick and his burgeoning movie career, Lincoln teases that his character should indeed appear throughout:
I’m very relieved to hear that Scott seems to think that Rick has a place in three of these stories. But you probably know more than I do at this juncture! [Laughs.]
Considering Lincoln’s reasons for wanting to exit the show, you might be curious to know if he’d be up for a London-based The Walking Dead spin-off, possibly pulling from UK-based zombie sources as varied as 28 Days Later… to Shaun of the Dead:
That’s not going to happen for me. I wouldn’t want to tarnish what’s been the most remarkable, beautiful, creative experience so far in my career.
Since the TWD universe is now free to roam about in space and time, Lincoln shared his thoughts about another actor stepping in to play a younger version of Rick Grimes pre-apocalypse, should the need arise for a prequel series:
Why not? I think the possibilities are endless. It’s an extraordinary environment and landscape, the mythology that Robert Kirkman has created, and I love that. I want to see that with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). That’s a backstory that I want to see on the mothership; I’m fascinated by it. But [this franchise] can pull people backwards and forwards. I love to see Michael Rooker [who played Merle] back on screen in a miniseries. With these kinds of shows, we are afforded the opportunity to bounce around narratively and be able to play with time.
For much more from The Walking Dead, be sure to get caught up with these recent write-ups:
- Scott Gimple and Angela Kang on Where ‘The Walking Dead’ Universe Goes from Here
- Andrew Lincoln and Jon Bernthal Reunite In ‘The Walking Dead’ Behind-the-Scenes Image
- Walker Stalker Con: Over 35 Images Reveal ‘The Walking Dead’ Cast, Cosplay, & More
- ‘The Walking Dead’ Storyboard Art Shows How the Season 9 Premiere Came to Life
- How ‘The Walking Dead’ Is Changing, with or without Its Core Characters