Lennie James has revealed the coming second crossover centered around former Walking Dead co-star Austin Amelio, who joins James in Season Five of spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, was in the works before James jumped over to Fear in its fourth season.
“It’s a very weird situation but not in the way most people might expect. Because I knew Austin was coming over from almost the moment I knew I was, so I’ve known for a while,” James told Metro.
“Austin is a mate so he had a tricky old time because there was a year delay for him before he could get started so he had to keep the secret a lot longer than virtually anybody else has had to, and he did a remarkable job.”
Amelio hails from Austin, Texas, where Fear is now filmed, and the star emerged as James’ “touchstone and my guide through Austin of where to eat, where to live, where to set yourself up, how to dress, and all things music in Austin, was down to Amelio.”
“So he’s been much more help to me than I’ve been to him,” James said.
James’ Morgan switching from The Walking Dead to Fear marked the first-ever interaction between the two series and was masterminded by Walking Dead chief content officer Scott Gimple, who boarded Fear as executive producer in Season Four and approached James as the sole choice for the first crossover.
Joining Fear “wasn’t a case of it being if it wasn’t me or it wasn’t Morgan then it would be somebody else,” James said last April. “They were very much saying, ‘We were thinking about doing this thing and if you’re really not up for it, then we’ll go [in] a completely different direction.’”
Though initially hesitant to switch series, it was ultimately James’ decision to leave The Walking Dead — a call he reached only after consulting Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln, who would later make his own exit from The Walking Dead early on in Season Nine.
Amelio remains tight-lipped about the spoiler-filled role he plays in Fear, but Gimple teased the season with an enticing hook when he revealed a story first seen on The Walking Dead will carry over into Fear.
“There will be this — beyond Austin — this very interesting commonality, this story strand that’s gonna be furthered on this show that started on The Walking Dead,” Gimple said at WonderCon. “And who knows where it will go? But that’s the thing on tap right now.”
Fear the Walking Dead Season Five premieres Sunday, June 2 on AMC.
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