During The Walking Dead panel at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, actor Andrew Lincoln spoke candidly on why he is leaving the show. The upcoming season of The Walking Dead will mark Lincoln's ninth as the series' lead. His character, Rick Grimes, will depart the show following this latest batch of episodes.
Andrew Lincoln officially confirmed that he would be leaving the series during the show's panel at Comic-Con. Prior to filming, the cast had renegotiated their contracts for season 9. For Lincoln, there was a stipulation in his contract where he would take on a much smaller number of episodes than his usual, with only 6 appearances planned for season 9. For added verification, series creator Robert Kirkman confirmed Lincoln's departure during an interview with Kevin Smith.
During The Walking Dead press conference at Comic-Con, Lincoln shared some information about planning to leave, and how long he had been considering parting with the show. According to Lincoln, there was not a solidified plan behind announcing his departure ahead of time. Rather, Lincoln wishes that fans could have experienced the departure of Rick Grimes when it happened, instead of preparing for the eventuality. On the thought that went into leaving the show, Lincoln said he had been considering when he would leave for quite some time. Moreover, he had hoped the show would get to a point in the narrative where other characters could lift the story.
Well, nine years I was thinking about it because that’s [U.K.] where we live. But I suppose it was a lot to do with a conversation that Scott and I had a few years ago, maybe in season 4, about the shape and finding some way to complete something that was never going to be completed. And then, obviously, not disturbing the mothership, y’know? There was a certain sense that this story has a man waking up and you experience this world through this one man’s eyes and it opens up into the extended family.
Now what’s exciting, I think for me, is the fact that the narrative has been freed up and it’s really been freed up. And from the beginning of this season, you see the trailer it’s a different time. It feels like the show I always felt we would head toward when we wrapped the pilot. And so yeah, in short, it was something that I started to think about as my children got older and less portable.
Season 9 will offer up the possibility to explore multiple stories. With the new trailer straight out of Comic-Con, the huge ensemble is growing into a new phase of the story as time is moving forward. Not to mention, the trailer also highlights new additions to the cast, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them star Dan Fogler, among others. Thus, the opportunity is ripe to focus on someone other than Rick.
Still, Lincoln's impending departure from the show is a huge blow for fans of The Walking Dead. Since the series premiered in 2010, devotees have followed Rick Grimes through the whole story. Now, as the show enters a new phase, Lincoln will likely pass the reigns on to cast member Norman Reedus, who wants to stay with the show until the very end. The transition away from focusing on Rick's POV could well be a rough one, but there's no reason to believe that the series can't find it's footing and emerge stronger on the other side of this move.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 on AMC.
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