The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus has discussed the forthcoming departure of Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and revealed a little about the final scene Lincoln filmed on the show. Prior to the currently running ninth season of The Walking Dead, it was confirmed that Rick would be gone by the season finale, with Lincoln exiting the show to spend more time with his family. It now seems that the character has but one final episode left and this week's effort, 'The Obliged', perhaps hinted at how Rick may meet his demise, with the protagonist finding himself in deep trouble during the episode's final scene.
For any television series, losing your lead actor is a difficult obstacle to overcome but has perhaps been exacerbated in the case of The Walking Dead due to last season's death of Carl Grimes and the impending exit of another main character, Maggie. This huge cast upheaval has caused some fans to speculate as to whether or not The Walking Dead can, or indeed should, continue without Rick and despite an upturn in critical reception for season 9, viewership has still been dropping.
In an interview with EW, Norman Reedus addressed Lincoln leaving the show and described what his final day on-set was like. In addition to revealing that the actor delivered a stirring, no-phones-allowed speech after his final scene and that filming without Lincoln has been "weird as f**k," Reedus also described his co-star's final moments in front of the camera as Rick Grimes:
"The very last scene that we shot, he’s supposed to smile. He was supposed to smile, and it was a close-up. So I kept sneaking in and tickling his feet and making him smile on this one line. And I thought it was funny. And he liked it. He kept asking me to keep doing it. So the last scene that he shot on this show, I’m below camera tickling his feet."
Given the dramatic ending to the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, it's difficult to imagine what Rick could possibly have to smile about in next week's installment. Perhaps this moment will tie in to the much-rumored dream sequence that will see the return of various faces from the show's history including Shane, Hershel and Sasha. Alternatively, it could be that, however Rick goes out, he leaves feeling content and is able to summon up one final smile before departing for good. It's worth remembering, however, that just because the smile was shot last, it won't necessarily be Rick's final scene. In either case, viewers can at least have fun trying to spot the exact moment Norman Reedus was tickling Andrew Lincoln's feet as he attempted to film what was presumably a very emotional and moving sequence.
Despite having only one episode left, it's still not clear what The Walking Dead will look and feel like after Rick's departure. The ninth season has, so far, still been very much centered around Lincoln's character and many other big names in the show such as Carol, Negan and Ezekiel have all had limited screen time in the early part of the current run. Clearly, this is something that will need to be addressed soon but with The Walking Dead yet to introduce the likes of Magna and The Whisperers, both confirmed for season 9, Rick's friends may not have much time for mourning.
The Walking Dead season 9 continues November 4th with 'What Comes After' on AMC.