Since his character, Rick Grimes, woke up to find the world overrun by “walkers” in the first episode of “The Walking Dead” four years ago, Andrew Lincoln has endured no shortage of on-screen heartbreak, including the betrayal of his best friend (Jon Bernthal) and the death of his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies). “I probably didn’t anticipate how painful it would be making these great friendships with people and then invariably losing them,” said Lincoln in our recent video chat (watch below) about the show’s high character mortality rate.
But that wasn’t the only surprise for Lincoln about playing this role: “When I first read the pilot I had no idea that I was going to go grey, turn 40, and become an action hero … One of my favorite parts of my day job is that I show up to work, I put my cowboy boots on, strap my gun to my waist, and start slaying zombies. Who’d have thought it?”
Last season, he narrowly survived a violent siege by the Governor (David Morrissey), which ended when Michonne (Danai Gurira) impaled the Governor with a sword. “It took, I think, the day [to shoot Rick and the Governor’s fight], but I felt it for the week,” Lincoln remembered. “Both of us, these two old Brits, had been waiting to weight into each other for a time, so I don’t think either of us held back. And we very quietly the day after said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘In a little bit of pain.'”
After the Governor’s siege, Rick was forced to flee with his son Carl (Chandler Riggs). Now 14-years-old, Riggs has grown up on the show, but “he came as 32 trapped in a 10-year-old body,” said Lincoln about the young actor’s maturity. “And we have a laugh. I call him Riggs. Each season I’ve got a new name for him. Last season was ‘the Kid,’ and now he’s too old to be called ‘the Kid.’ He’s Riggs … He’s got this incredible deep voice, and so I have to drop my voice now … to out-butch my son, which is very disturbing.”
Lincoln has yet to be nominated for an Emmy for his performance, but in 2013 he earned a Best Drama Actor nomination at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards. The series has also won a pair of Emmys for Best Prosthetic Makeup, earned Best Drama nominations from the Golden Globes (2011) and Critics’ Choice (2011), and picked up a Program of the Year bid from the Television Critics Association (2013).
“It’s always incredibly flattering,” said Lincoln about awards recognition for himself and the series. But he was especially thrilled for his co-star Melissa McBride, who earned her own Critics’ Choice bid this year for her performance as Carol: “It makes me so happy. It makes me more happy than getting recognition myself … I came to this country to work with people of that quality.”
Will Lincoln and the series break through in major Emmy categories this year? Watch our complete interview below and predict Best Drama Actor: