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Hero Moment: Andrew Lincoln Says Goodbye to the Walking Dead

I like crying a lot on film, but not necessarily in public,” said Andrew Lincoln in a special conversation at the HFPA’s Comic-Con lounge yesterday. “So when I finished the (Hall H) panel yesterday, it was very emotional directly afterward.”

Indeed, it was the news that The Walking Dead fans didn’t want to hear, or believe: that Lincoln, who stars as Rick Grimes, would be leaving the series sometime during its upcoming ninth season. After a couple months of rumors, executive producer Robert Kirkman confirmed the detail in an interview during Comic-Con, so Lincoln reluctantly addressed it, provoking an emotional response from fans — and then himself.

“When I wrapped the filming, I think because I was so relieved, I wasn’t that focused on the grieving process,” he said. “But it’s been an incredible journey, more than a job, for all of us. I have sweated, breathed and bled The Walking Dead for almost the best part of a decade.”

For longtime fans of the show, Lincoln feels like their devotion won’t be in vain. “I think season nine, in particular, is the future that I had always wished we would get to,” he said. “As you see from both the trailer and last season, there are people that don’t necessarily believe in Negan still being alive. They have a very, very different conception of what civilization means and future means, and what justice looks like. So we are moving into a much more philosophical and interesting area — the stories are really deep and nuanced. And it also involves the five principal characters, who dearly love one another. So you are sort of wrestling with these (big questions with) family members, and it that makes it hurt even more, I think.”

“I think one of the most satisfying parts of the last three weeks of filming was just knowing that I left it all out on the field,” added Lincoln, wrapping up. “And I think the last two episodes for me were some of my favorite episodes that I ever have filmed.”