Rick Grimes Star Andrew Lincoln Wanted to Do a ‘Walking Dead’ Movie “for Years”

Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln, who exited The Walking Dead earlier this season in favor of a three-movie deal, has wanted to make the switch to movies “for years,” according to former co-star Chandler Riggs.

“He’s been wanting to do movies for years. He was saying since Season Three or Four, he was like, ‘Dude, we should do a movie, it would be so cool to do a full-on movie in theaters,’” Riggs said at San Jose Fan Fest.

“I was like, ‘That would be so sick, I’m super down,’ and it really became a thing. But for it to finally be announced and actually be confirmed, it’s super, super sick.”

Lincoln inked a deal to reappear as Rick Grimes in a trilogy of television movies to be produced by AMC Studios, the first of which will explore where the severely wounded Rick was transported to after being rescued by Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh).

The self-exiled Anne absconded with the now presumed dead Alexandrian leader in a helicopter headed to parts unknown before a six-year time skip brought The Walking Dead into the future, having moved on from Rick as Lincoln is confirmed to not be returning to the television side of the quickly expanding Walking Dead Universe.

AMC will mine the brand under chief content officer and former Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, who will shepherd additional films, specials, series, and other digital content out of that universe, currently comprised of the flagship series and spinoff Fear the Walking Dead.

“It is really important for the audience to know that we are going to be continuing to tell the story of Rick Grimes in these AMC Studios original films. We don’t want this thing to be like, ‘Oh, well, he’ll be back on the show any moment now,’” Gimple previously told EW.

“We are telling Rick’s story in another medium, and it’s going to be these AMC Studios original films. They’re going to be on AMC, most probably. They’re centered around Rick Grimes. We’re going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments.”

Where Rick is headed has yet to be revealed, with Gimple saying only “he’s flying off in a helicopter, away from Virginia, and it’s going to be a new world — a very new situation with its own history, and very, very different from what we’ve seen before.”

Lincoln had a say in how his exit was handled, showrunner Angela Kang told ET when explaining the writers’ room engaged in “many great conversations” with the Rick Grimes star concerning his future.

Following an eight-year run as the character, Lincoln was adamant when it came to Rick’s fate: he didn’t want his former sheriff’s deputy killed off, at least not quite yet, but wanted to ease his Walking Dead duties, which took him away from his family overseas for most months out of the year.

“I mean, I know he loved being on the show and loved being a part of it, but I think the main reason was his family. He’s a very family [oriented] man,” Riggs said of Lincoln when asked if he believes Carl’s death played a part in Lincoln’s decision to leave the show.

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When told by the panel host it would be “cool” if Riggs reappeared in a Walking Dead movie of his own, Riggs only smiled.

The Walking Dead Season Nine continues with new episodes Sunday, February 10 on AMC.