Lennie James Consulted With Andrew Lincoln Over His ‘Walking Dead’ Exit

Lennie James met with his longtime Walking Dead co-star Andrew Lincoln when mulling over a decision to leave that series and join spinoff Fear The Walking Dead.

The Morgan Jones actor was approached by Walking Dead Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple, who asked, “‘How would you like to continue Morgan’s story over at Fear?’”

“And all I heard was ringing in my ears. And he carried on talking, and I wasn’t really listening, because the only thing I could think was, ‘If I say yes to this, it means I’m leaving the show.’ And that was the first thought,” James said during Comic Con Honolulu this weekend.

“And then at the end of it, he said, ‘You have any questions?’ And I said, ‘I don’t. I don’t have any questions because I don’t know what I think and I don’t know what I feel. I need to speak to my wife and I’d like permission to speak to Andy.’ And he said, ‘Let me speak to Andy first, but absolutely.’”

After first consulting with his wife, Giselle, James connected with Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln to discuss what would become the first major shake-up to hit both shows this year as the flagship show and the spinoff would officially connect for the first time.

“And then me and Andy, went to the cinema and we watched a film, and then we had a meal afterwards and we kind of talked it through,” James said. “And then I started to formulate questions and figure out whether or not it was a good thing — not just for me — but most importantly, whether it was a good thing for my character. And in the end, I decided that it was, and I was being offered a very unique experience as an actor.”

Two months later, the world would learn Lincoln had his own exit in mind: after eight seasons in the driver’s seat, Lincoln would be stepping down from the series in the upcoming Season Nine. James first entered the Walking Dead universe in its 2010 pilot alongside Lincoln, later resurfacing in Season Three and Season Five before enlisting as a full-time series regular in Season Six.

Asked by ComicBook.com if he ever foresaw outlasting Rick Grimes, James said, “Of course not.”

“My character is dead in the comic books, dude! I’ve outlived Rick, I’ve outlived myself! It’s a surreal one. I have some notion of what happens and how it happens and it’s gonna be an exciting thing for people to follow and see. He made the choice that he had to make for the right reasons,” James said, referring to Lincoln electing to end his time with the series in favor of spending more time with his young family.

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Rick and Morgan bid farewell in the opening minutes of the Fear Season Four premiere, when Rick unsuccessfully tried to convince the distant Morgan not to run from people. In the back half of the season, Morgan intends to head home to Virginia, extending invitations to his newly-encountered allies.

Fear The Walking Dead resumes Season Four with its mid-season premiere Sunday, August 12 on AMC. Lincoln’s farewell Walking Dead season launches Sunday, October 7.