Leaving 'The Walking Dead' Was Lennie James' Decision

Longtime The Walking Dead star Lennie James, who will be exiting the flagship series in favor of spinoff Fear The Walking Dead, tells Digital Spy he "absolutely" had a say in changing shows.

James, who first appeared in The Walking Dead's 2010 pilot, says Morgan's transfer to Fear was birthed out of talks with executive producer and then-showrunner Scott Gimple, who has since been elevated to overseer of the entire Walking Dead brand for AMC.

Gimple's promotion includes executive producer and creative duties on Fear, which introduces James' Morgan Jones to its ranks in its upcoming season 4 premiere.

"At the beginning of every season you have to sit down with Scott Gimple and he tells you what the arc of this season is going to be and what your character's arc is going to be," James said. "You mostly don't listen to anything he's saying because you just want to know whether or not you're going to die.

"A couple of days later he phoned me up, said he forgot to talk to me about something and would I come back. So, I drove back to his house thinking he forgot to tell me that I'm dying. I got there, I sat down, I got a bottled water and he said, 'By the way, this is not a conversation about you dying.'"

James had been with The Walking Dead on-and-off since the first season, popping up again in season 3 and throughout season 5 before fully integrating into the cast in season 6.

Having been spared the death talk with Gimple, James said, he was left with questions following the proposed crossover plans.

"My first reaction was, 'Oh thank God,' but then he said it was much weirder than that. He talked about his new role of overseeing both shows and then he said, 'How would you like to continue the story of Morgan in Fear the Walking Dead?'" James recalled.

"At the end of the conversation Scott said that he was sure I had loads of questions and, to be honest, I probably did but I couldn't bring a single one of them to my lips. He asked what I wanted to do and all I was that said I was just going to leave and get back to him."

James admitted he wanted to "let it sink in and figure out what I thought," adding he needed to discuss the move with his wife.

"We just started talking about it over the next couple of weeks and months as there was a lot to take on board," James said, revealing the on-the-table displacement wasn't mandatory.

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"It wasn't a case of, 'This is going to happen,' it was genuinely a case of what I thought about it, there was absolutely a choice."

The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead will cross paths for the first time as part of Survival Sunday, a one-night-only event that sees AMC airing the Walking Dead season 8 finale and the Fear season 4 premiere back-to-back Sunday, April 15 at 9/8c.