After nine seasons of playing zombie survivor Rick Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln has some pretty strong ties to the character, the crew and the franchise in general. But with Rick set to leave the show midway through the ninth season, some had assumed that’d be it for his involvement with the series.
Well, think again. The actor’s confirmed today in an interview with EW that he’s indeed returning to the show for its tenth season next year – albeit behind the camera as a director.
“I’m going back. I’m going back to shadow a director, and my intention is to direct next year.”
The plan is for him to head back to set for the second half of the ninth season and shadow a director there to learn the ropes, before making a return as a proper director for an unspecified episode next year.
The Walking Dead has past form for this, too, with Fear the Walking Dead‘s Coman Domingo taking up directorial duties at one point and Michael Cudlitz (who played Abraham on The Walking Dead) directing the current season’s seventh episode. Interestingly, both of these actors also shadowed directors before taking up the reins themselves, suggesting that the production team have some kind of director-in-training program going.
So, why is Lincoln so eager to return? Well, longtime fans will certainly sympathize with his answer, as he told EW:
“I can’t be that far away because I can’t bear it. That’s how much I am invested in the show and the continuation of the story.”
We still have no idea whether Rick will make it out of season 9 alive – let’s face it, happy endings are a rarity on The Walking Dead – but who knows, the character’s survived some pretty terrible situations before, so fingers crossed there’ll be room for him to make a triumphant return a couple of seasons down the line.
In the meantime, The Walking Dead will be back for its ninth season on AMC on October 7th.