Andrew Lincoln is "itching" to get to work on The Walking Dead's first feature film marking his return to the Rick Grimes role after spending nearly two years away, says screenwriter and Walking Dead Universe chief content officer Scott Gimple. Lincoln permanently exited the television series after eight years in 2018, stepping away in its ninth season to spend time with family, but the actor wasn't through with the Dead: following his final episode of the zombie drama, Gimple and AMC immediately announced a planned trilogy of feature films following Lincoln's Rick on a new adventure in a different corner of the zombie apocalypse alongside foe-turned-friend Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh).
"So much of what we've been doing is honing and tweaking and experimenting, and we're just in the lab with it," Gimple told ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis during this weekend's virtual Comic-Con. "And we've been playing around a lot. We were doing that before and now it's forced upon us. We don't know when we would be doing it if everything was finished right now, we just don't know, but we're still in the lab. We're still goofing around with it. We're still playing around with it."
Lincoln is "super involved" with the project, Gimple added. "He throws around the football with the rest of us. He's very, very interested in this thing."
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and franchise executive producer David Alpert previously said the film, slated to be distributed into theaters by Universal Pictures, can only benefit from the extra time allowed by an extended pause on production during the pandemic. Lincoln's Rick Grimes will return on the big screen as soon as it's safe to shoot.
"And I got to tell you, he's itching to get back, too," Gimple told us. "We all are."
Beyond revealing what happened to Rick Grimes after the helicopter flight that shuttled him off The Walking Dead, the movies will unravel the "vast mythology" behind the Civic Republic Military, or CRM, which has emerged as the connective thread linking all three Walking Dead shows.
Helicopters marked with the three-circle symbol appeared in The Walking Dead before popping up in the fifth season of spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, and the shadowy organization will first play a large role in the Gimple co-created limited event series The Walking Dead: World Beyond when it premieres on AMC this October.
AMC, Skybound Entertainment and Universal Pictures have not set a date for the still untitled Walking Dead Movie. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.