“I found out five months before I was leaving the show that I was going to be going off and I was like, ‘oh, bummer.’ And then in a conversation they said, ‘but you’re going to go in a way that I think you’ll like.’ And it became a revelation that I was going to be taking him way,” McIntosh said at San Jose Fan Fest.
“And when I originally heard that in that conversation, I thought, ‘huh, I’m gonna be really, really hated.’ Like, ‘that’s scary.’ And then I thought, ‘that’s kind of thrilling, actually.’ Because what a new, strange experience.”
Anne ultimately rescued a severely wounded Rick after he washed ashore following his last stand at the bridge, which he exploded to halt an approaching horde of walkers.
Though Rick is believed dead by those closest to him, he was quietly scooped up for a helicopter ride to an unknown destination — a story to play out in the first Walking Dead movie.
“As I actually read the script when it came close to the time, I realized, huh, it’s not her being bad, it’s actually her being really good. And it was a huge relief,” McIntosh said.
“And then I was like, ‘oh, I don’t get to be all hated and stuff, I was getting interested in that.’ But it was also kind of really exciting and to be honest, I just felt really, really lucky. I just felt really lucky and excited to get to do it. We all love Andy so much, so to be part of that in that way was really thrilling.”
In the weeks since their shared final episode, McIntosh reported most fans have reacted “incredibly generously” to Anne’s last-minute rescue — even if it took Rick away from lover Michonne (Danai Gurira) and children Judith (Cailey Fleming) and RJ (Antony Azor) across a six-year time skip.
“Many, many ‘thank you, thank you, thank you for saving our Rick,’ and of course I didn’t, but I’ll take it. I love it,” McIntosh said.
“Now as the show’s progressing a little and it’s sinking in that they’re not going to get to see him for a while, it’s kind of, ‘what have you done with him, where is he, why won’t you give him back?!’ But not much meanness at all.”
Lincoln’s exit from the television series is a permanent one as the star gears up for a trilogy of original movies, the first of which will reunite him with McIntosh as Rick and Anne encounter the expansive community behind the ‘A’ and ‘B’ classification mystery.
“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,” Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple told EW when announcing the projects.
“We’re going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments.”
AMC has yet to date its first Rick Grimes movie, eyeing a likely 2019 production start. The Walking Dead resumes with its back half of Season Nine Sunday, February 10.