‘The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln “Picked the Wrong Time to Leave”

The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus says best friend and former series lead Andrew Lincoln agrees the long-running zombie drama has undergone a creative renaissance under Season Nine showrunner Angela Kang. “It’s funny because I talked to Andy the other day,” Reedus told EW with a laugh. “And he was like, ‘Man, I picked the wrong time to leave the show because it’s so f—ing good right now.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you did, dude. You picked the wrong time.’”

“I love the risks that she’s taken,” Reedus added of Kang, a writer-producer on the series since its sophomore season in 2011.

“I love what Angela’s doing to the show. She’s very punk rock, Angela Kang. She jumps in. There’s a confidence with our crew and with our cast and with our storytelling that we’ve earned over the years. If you’re going to take risks, now’s the time to take them, and they’re all paying off. After nine years, you have to reinvent yourself a little bit. I just want to make the show that we want to make, and it feels like that’s what we’re doing. You can feel it in the crew. You can feel it in the cast. You can feel it in the scripts. It’s the show that we want to make.”

When appearing at San Diego Comic-Con in July, where Lincoln publicly announced for the first time he was exiting the show, Lincoln said Kang’s stewardship brought with it a feeling reminiscent of the early day vibes ushered in by original showrunner Frank Darabont.

“We have to talk about Angela Kang if we talk about this season because she is the creative force this season,” Lincoln told ComicBook.com. “She’s been on the show since Season Two and I think she's breathed new life into it and given us a collaborative feel on set and also just an energy. A real positive energy. It feels like the show that I always thought we would get to when I shot the pilot in Atlanta nine years ago.”

Lincoln, who stepped away from the mothership series five episodes into its ninth season in November, famously has never watched the show but lingered on set to prep for his Walking Dead directorial debut in Season Ten. He’ll next return as Rick Grimes across a trilogy of television movies explaining Rick’s six-year disappearance, a shift that allows Lincoln an abbreviated film shoot — and much-needed family time.

“I mean, there’s only so many sports days you can miss and really call yourself a father, so I think it was time for me to get back for some important days and just be around and have some continuity back home,” Lincoln told Access in September.

The Walking Dead next airs its game-changing Season Nine finale Sunday at 9/8c on AMC. The first Rick Grimes movie is expected to hit AMC in 2020.

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