On Saturday, the cast of The Walking Dead took the stage at MSG at the Hulu theater to partake in what has grown into an annual pilgrimage to
New York Comic Con. Moderated by Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick, the event was both a celebration of the new direction of the show and a solemn NYCC farewell for actor Andrew Lincoln, the man that made Robert Kirkman’s comic book character Rick Grimes into a household name and one of the top TV protagonists of all-time.
With the ninth season being Lincoln’s last, Kirkman was asked to recollect the first time he saw Rick Grimes come to life.
“There’s a moment where I saw Andrew Lincoln talking to Stephen Yuen for the first time? Stephen Yuen had come to the set to shoot a scene and I actually got a shot of it. I met Andy briefly, I had seen his auditions and we had talked for a few days already. It was amazing,” he recalled. “Seeing two characters that I had spent so much time with speaking in real life and seeing this world come alive. No one had seen this show, nobody knew what this was going to become. But, but seeing the characters come alive was very unnerving and it’s something that’s never really gone away….(H)e always made me feel like I wasn’t trying hard enough on the comics.”
Though the British actor is very popular in America today, it wasn’t like that 10 years ago when he first stepped on the set. He told the collective of his trepidation regarding playing a character with such a rabid fanbase.
“I think it was two weeks into shooting with Frank (Nicotero) when I woke up and walked into the hospital corridor. It was a crazy, 16 hour day and Frank sees me sitting quietly between takes and he walks over to me and says ‘I think we might have something here.’ And I thought ‘Good, then that means they’re not going to fire me.’
Andrew Lincoln on his very first Comic Con experience.
“When I went to my first comic con, we were behind the wall as a sign that we were getting it right, and my knees went. We were getting it right. And I thought ‘Oh, thank God.’ My brother warned me. He said don’t mess this up. This is very A intelligent, fervent fanbase. I’ve always known this. This is not my natural habitat. I like being presented as being Rick Grimes. So, I get nervous because of my expectations and friends of mine go ‘You just have to chill and enjoy the whole experience’, but I still find it hard. But you guys make it a lot easier.
“I just watched my first ever episode. I don’t watch the show. I’m kind of allergic to my own face.”
“I did DVD commentary with Andy where he was not watching the show,” added director Frank Nicotero.
“Some of my best work,” quipped Lincoln.
Danai Gurira’s Michonne is both a fan favorite and a pivotal protagonist. The relationship between she and Rick has grown before our eyes.
“I had already watched the first two seasons of the series and it was very clear that the show was anchored in him,” said Danai of her initial impression of Lincoln. “It was very palpable and that he was committed 150,000 percent and giving his all. So that already sets off the nerves. I got to work with Mr. Lincoln at the end of episode six and the beginning of episode seven.”
“What really struck me was, oh my God, he’s a maniac! I loved it! Screaming really loud, running up and down. I thought ‘Yes! He’s a maniac! Finally, I get to be my maniac self!’ I got full permission to do my ‘slapping myself’ thing and do what a scream that they now call the Michonne Warcry, which is a bellow I make. I could get out of my own way. I thought ‘Thank you, Andy!’ It was great to see that number one on the call sheet was actually insane.”
The Walking Dead has killed off many of our favorites over the years. Indeed, that’s a part of the show’s appeal. Showrunner Amy Kang gave us a hint of what we can expect this season but didn’t specify in what capacity.
“We can confirm that Jon Bernthal was onset. We can also confirm that the wonderful Scott Wilson had visited the set as well as the beautiful Sonequa Martin-Green.”
Norman Reedus plays the motorcycle riding, crossbow shooting country badass. Here he answers a question about what we can expect this season.
“This season reminds me of what I felt about the show in the beginning. It’s like a western. I have a different feel to it, a different look to it. I’m going to say something nice about Andy. I always rag on him because it’s fun, but he and Bernthal really set a tone that we always tried to live up to. When you’re in this type of world, with all these zombies, the story could easily steer off in the wrong direction. But they always played it so honest, had the most integrity with their work ethic, and just how they hold themselves onset. Everybody is just trying to keep that going. That’s a testament to the people who started the show, and our cast, crew, and writers. He’s gone, but he’s not gon’, know what I’m sayin’.”
The Walking Dead has been a monster hit for AMC for the past six years. However, it was reported yesterday that Andrew Lincoln, who played Rick Grimes, will be leaving after the season 9. The post-apocalyptic series.
“The interesting thing is there’s just more words in Michonne’s mouth. I really enjoyed that,” said Danai when asked what we can expect from Michonne. “It’s very meaty when you get to do scenes with characters one-on-one. Just really delving into the impact of characters on one another and coming into a scene having one thing in mind, but the interaction just takes you to another place. I love all the stuff, I love all the action and I think it’s really cool to juxtapose all of that with the serious meatiness this year.”
Danai on why she believes Michonne fell for Rick.
“I think Michonne fell in love with Rick because he figured out how to retain community and retain connections to people and take responsibility for people even through the mayhem of an apocalypse and the uncertainty of the terrain. That’s something that Michonne stepped away from. She decided to walk, literally, with the dead as a way to protect herself. What attracted her toward him, and what opened her up him, was seeing how this man took responsibility for others. Not from a place of needing to feel aggrandized but from a place of moral responsibility. I think that’s what really opened up her heart to him.”
Season nine of The Walking Dead premiered on AMC on Sunday, October 7th with a bang as our favorite allies come to grips with the aftermath with their war with the Saviors a year and a half later. Friendships are strained as threats long thought extinguished begin to lurk in the dark. I can’t wait for the next episode!