The Walking Dead - and now spinoff Fear the Walking Dead - star Lennie James recalls being unsure that the show would be a success early on. In the world of Hollywood, movies and TV shows are rarely a safe bet to catch on with audiences. Projects seen by insiders as a sure thing often fail, and those seen as fringe releases unlikely to captivate the masses can quite often surprise everyone by becoming the next big thing.
While it might be the highest rated show on TV now - albeit not by as large a margin as it used to be - The Walking Dead was definitely not anticipated to be a big hit. In fact, several networks passed on the series before AMC opted to pick it up. Doing that was obviously a smart move, as while shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad earned AMC critical prestige, Walking Dead transformed the network into a major power player.
That all said, it's not surprising to learn that members of The Walking Dead's cast also viewed it as a project likely to be nothing more than a blip on their resumes. After all, no one had ever tried to tell a serialized zombie apocalypse tale on American TV before, leaving those stories up to movie directors like the late George A. Romero. During a panel at Comic Con Honolulu (via Comic Book) this weekend, James recalled his early impressions of the show.
"The general feeling while we were doing the pilot was, ‘This probably won’t go anywhere. But if it does, we might give you a call and you might come back.’ So that was all I knew right at the beginning. It was only really in Season Two and then when it went onto Netflix and people caught up on Netflix that it turned into the phenomenon that it’s turned into now. But at the beginning, you know, they said, ‘This character comes back in the comic book, so he might come back in the show.’ But if I got a dime for every time someone said, ‘Your character’s coming back,’ I’d be a millionaire."
Needless to say, James was wrong when he assumed The Walking Dead would be short-lived, although it would still be a while before he really got to reap the benefits of that as an actor. Following his memorable role opposite Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the pilot episode, Morgan disappeared, and wouldn't reappear until the episode "Clear" late in season 3. He would also only appear in three episodes of season 5, before becoming a series regular from season 6 onward. Now, Morgan has of course left the main TWD series to join spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, currently in its fourth season.
Just because he's hopped shows though, that doesn't mean James' Morgan might never return to original recipe Walking Dead, as the actor has hinted there's an opening for him to come back sometime in the future. If he does, one wonders how Morgan - never the most stable of men since losing his family to the zombie apocalypse - will cope with the loss of his old friend Rick, as Lincoln is set to depart the series during season 9. It remains to be seen whether or not Rick will die, but either way, Morgan is sure to have complex feelings on the matter.
The Walking Dead season 9 premieres October 7 on AMC.
Source: Comic Book