'The Walking Dead' 's Andrew Lincoln on Rick's 'Morally Ambiguous' Decisions

Lincoln's costar Steven Yeun also addresses Glenn and Maggie's "downfall," and showrunner Scott M. Gimple calls the series "expensive fan fiction"

Photo: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Before The Walking Dead returns from a long, cold, zombie-free winter hiatus on Sunday, star Andrew Lincoln wants to revisit that gruesome neck-biting scene from the season 4 finale – and what it means for his character Rick’s motivations moving forward.

At a TimesTalks panel on Monday, Lincoln, Steven Yeun (Glenn) and showrunner Scott M. Gimple sat down to discuss all things Walking Dead, including Lincoln’s perspective on Rick’s “morally ambiguous” decisions and whether Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are “doomed.”

“There’s a certainty in [Rick] that people follow,” said Lincoln, 41. “It’s one of his strengths. It’s also one of his weaknesses as well because he’s defiant. … There are morally ambiguous decisions that he makes, and that’s the thing that hooks me into the story, like, ‘Hey, he’s just bitten [another man’s] throat out! … But it’s for his son.’ ”

Indeed, Lincoln is not so desensitized to the general mayhem and gore of The Walking Dead that that scene didn’t give him pause. “I called up [Gimple] and I went, ‘You know, we’ve always been very responsible with the violence on this show. There’s a line in the sand – are we overstepping it?’ ” said Lincoln, prompting laughter from the audience. “And [Gimple] said, ‘Which bit are you talking about?’ “

However, the violence on the show is always “grounded in something incredibly powerful and humane,” continued Lincoln. “You can do things that are terribly inhumane in this show, and that’s the kind of juxtaposition that really gets people’s … juices … flowing,” he trailed off, regretting his choice of words immediately.

As for Glenn and Maggie, they’re not necessarily “doomed” but it is something that will be “explored” in the latter half of season 5, said Yeun, 31. “Not necessarily just their relationship, but, what does your constant hold on humanity do to you? … Will ultimately loving someone bring you down and be the downfall for both of you?”

For now, as Yeun points out, we don’t yet know to which measures Glenn would go to protect Maggie, though we do know what he would do to find her. As the season goes on, the writers will explore where the “moral compasses” of our intrepid heroes lie – the show will explore “what they’re made of as this world continues to batter them over and over.”

Finally, for those whose violent appetites weren’t sated by the first half of the season, there will be plenty of gore to come – and the actors love filming it.

“We had fun just choreographing,” said Yeun. “We’re like, ‘I’m gonna do this, and you can come in and do this, and you can come in and do this, and when he falls, I’ll jump on top and do that!’ Like, we’re idiots. Just, like, smiling idiots. We’re so happy to hack and slash.”

For your weekly dose of hacking and slashing, The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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