The Walking Dead panel moderator Chris Hardwick started the panel by introducing Angela Kang, Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman, Dave Alpert, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Mellissa McBride and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Hardwick asks Kang about crafting Lincoln's exit from Rick Grimes.
"We really kind of ran with it in the writer's room, just really trying to thin about what has Rick's journey meant to him on the show," Kang said. As for being showrunner, she says it's a lot of responsibility. "I get to grow as somebody in this career. That's been really exciting."
Did Gimple have a plan for Lincoln's exit?
"It was a possibility that we talked about," Gimple said. "There were things that you build things into the story, maybe it'll go this direction, maybe it'll go that direction," "Things started moving in that way and we followed the story threads that were laid out. We were able to fulfill it this season. There was a plan. There were little turns here and there but it generally stayed with the plan."
Kirkman is asked about Lincoln's embodiment of Rick Grimes.
"There was a moment where I saw Andrew Lincoln talking to Steven Yeun for the first time," Kirkman said. "Seeing two characters that I had spent so much time with, speaking in real life, seeing that this world was coming to life, and no one had seen this show. I didn't know what this was eventually going to become. Just seeing the characters come to life, it was moving. It was very unnerving. It's something that has never gone away...It's tough when anybody leaves the show, it's tough every single time people leave the show. Before I stopped being in the writer's room full time, I remember sitting in the room saying, 'How about we try not killing someone for an entire season!'"
To conclude, Kirkman says, "I love you, Andy. I love you."
Alpert's favorite Rick Grimes moment?
"Besides Coral?!" Alpert joked. "It's the scene from the first episode where he's riding in on the horse and he finally sees the horror of what's happening in downtown Atlanta...and the premiere of Season Three where he's basically leading a swat team in complete silence and he's reinvented himself."
What's it like to direct Lincoln?
"It's been amazing," Nicotero said. "One of the advantages I have...is I've been able to gain the trust of the cast. With Andy, we've been together since day one. When the scripts come in, he'll come to my house and he'll sit on the couch, and he'll read his part and I'll read every other character...He'll call somebody and talk about the day, how much fun it was, how exciting it was...I will say, when he's in that zone, you don't go near him! You can't put your hand anywhere near him, you'll get bit!...I remember the episode that he finds Lori was devoured by a walker and his descent into madness...and we scheduled it all in one day and we went through it and by the end of the day, he was spent, and it all comes out!"
"There was a point I think, two weeks into shooting when Frank, we were doing the sequence when I woke up in the hotel corridor," "Frank saddled over to me, very quietly, and he said, 'I think we might have something here.' It meant an enormous amount to me. I thought we might be onto something and they're not gonna fire me!...When we went to my first comic con, I remember being on the other side of the walls and hearing the noise."
Lincoln admits he does get nervous when he meets fans and shares the work. The fans, however, make it a lot easier.
"My last day was amazing," On the way to it being a very moving farewell, I pulled down the set on top of the A cameraman...I was inspired. I thought, 'This is a really good idea, I'm going with something!...It was Norman's fault...and he started slapping me in the face and I started tearing down the set on Deke and I knocked him out. I shouldn't have ripped down the set and Norman shouldn't have been slapping me!"
The last scene ended up being funny. "We did the last scene, in which I had to laugh and sort of chuckle a bit, so what happened was I was doing one take and I felt my toe being tickled...it worked, it was terrific, and it was this dude, who happened to be directing! It was the most unprofessional moment of my nine years! I finished, like a fool. Thanks, boys."
Is the prank war over?
"I think Andy could prank me 3,000 more times and I'd still be the winner," Reedus said. He explains how the two actors were doing an emotional scene in the woods and Lincoln had someone else wrap Reedus' car in toilet paper. Lincoln says Reedus was "smile crying" in the scene, so "he deserved to have a toilet papered car, his muscle car, his mid-life crisis car."
"He drives a Prius, so!" Reedus quipped.
McBride says she would bring Shane back, if anyone. Lincoln says he would like to play Shane "because I'd actually get to sleep with Lori."
Working with Andy as Negan?
"I f---in' hated him," Morgan said. "No one is happier that he's gone than me. No. I was you guys. I was a fan of the show forever. Right up until I tore into it. One of the reasons I wanted to so badly be a part of it was to work with this cast...Working with him is gonna go down as one of the greatest pleasures of my life. No one prepares like he does. No one sings Coldplay's 'Yellow' quite like he does."
Morgan profoundly thanks Lincoln's family for allowing him to be a part of the show for so long.
Hardwick introduces the clip which fans voted on as their favorite Lincoln scene before turning attention to the future of the show.
Kang confirms Jon Bernthal, Scott Wilson, and Sonequa Martin-Green are returning to the series in Season 9.
Gimple says he is most looking forward to Whisperers in Season Nine and Kirkman calls their look "breathtaking."
"I have to go rogue for a moment," Kirkman said. "I got word just before we came out here that...we've successfully negotiated with Telltale Games...for our company Skybound to come in and see Season 4 of the Telltale game to completion. We can't lose Andrew Lincoln and Clementine in the same year."
What's been different?
"It's been really, really cool to juxtapose [the action] with some serious meatiness this year," Gurira said.
"I did some stretches and squats," McBride joked. "We have horses! I love to ride horses but if you don't ride all the time, you can ride for an hour and just be broken for a week, so squats, stretches, lunges."
"I think it's just a wholly different side of Negan that we're gonna see this year," Morgan said. "We'll see. I think Negan's fighting a lot of internal battles this year. It's tough in a 10x10 cell and he's finding out a lot about himself. It's been a very interesting year for both Negan and myself."
What did Rick and Michonne learn from each other?
"One of the greatest things of the last few seasons is this relationship when it happened," Lincoln said. "They recognize something in each other. There's a formidable warrior...Rick and Michonne's relationship has depend to a much more profound, understanding love which has been really, really satisfying to play."
"The thing that Michonne learned from day one from Rick is that he figured out how to retain community and retain to connection to people and to take responsibility for people," Gurira said. "That's something that Michonne had stepped away from. She decided to be a loner. She decided to walk literally with the dead...It's a responsibility he must take from a place of love."
What was it like without Lincoln?
"The last day that he was in there, he was covered in blood, and I still won't let him clean the chair," Reedus said.
"He also has a coffee mug that Andy drank out of that has blood on it and he won't let anyone wash it," McBride adds.
What will Lincoln miss the most?
"These guys and everybody back in Atlanta, and everybody here, and all of you," Lincoln said. "There's three of us left that have done the nine years and they continue. I watched the first episode that I ever watched of the show and I wasn't in it. All of these guys, they're immaculate. This guy's a leading actor like I never season." He proceeds to hand out compliments to McBride, Gurira, and Morgan. "You're gonna be blown away by the work their doing...I've loved every minute of it and thank you."0comments
Did he take anything from set?
"I tried to steal my boots but Norman steals everything every year," Lincoln said. "I've seen him leave on two motorbikes with several crossbows. I think he steals three a season."