‘Fear The Walking Dead’: Lennie James’ Morgan is New Series Lead

When Fear The Walking Dead returns with its second half of season 4 this August, it looks to be [...]

When Fear The Walking Dead returns with its second half of season 4 this August, it looks to be with The Walking Dead transplant Morgan Jones (Lennie James) in the starring role.

In a press release published by AMC Networks announcing the second half of Fear The Walking Dead season 4, the series is noted as starring "Lennie James, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Colman Domingo, Danay Garcia, Garret Dillahunt, Maggie Grace and Jenna Elfman."

Previously, as of the mid-season finale, star Kim Dickens was billed first, followed by Frank Dillane (Nick), Alycia Debnam-Carey (Alicia), Maggie Grace (Althea), Colman Domingo (Strand), Danay Garcia (Luciana), Jenna Elfman (June) and Lennie James (Morgan).

Fear's mid-season finale killed off Dickens' Madison Clark, long the lead of both the Clark clan and their expanding group of tag-along survivors. The move to axe Madison came just episodes after Nick was shot and killed — a result of Dillane asking to leave the franchise.

Unlike Dillane, Dickens' exit did not come at her request: the actress admitted she was "shocked and disappointed and heartbroken" to learn Madison would be killed off halfway through season 4.

Despite there being "so many more stories to tell and so many more places to go" with Madison, according to Dickens, newly minted season 4 showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg said killing Madison was the direction they wanted to take for this new season of Fear — the first to crossover the spinoff series with flagship show The Walking Dead.

The start of the season famously relocated James' stick-wielding Morgan from Alexandria, Virginia, to Texas, where he quickly joined up with series newcomers John Dorie and Althea, who found themselves running afoul of series veterans Nick, Alicia, Strand and Luciana.

By the midway point of season 4, both camps found their issues with the opposing side mostly resolved, and the back half of the season will move forward by building up its new roster of fresh faces.

"We're excited about all the characters we get to play with," Chambliss told ComicBook.com.

"There's a lot of work for them to do, but we're starting to see some of the connections forming between all of them. And we're really excited to see how this group struggles to be together, how they grow together, how they've become almost a new family, moving forward."

Morgan has long been a pet character of former The Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, who boarded Fear as executive producer in season 4 after being elevated to the position of chief content officer of the entire Walking Dead brand for AMC.

Gimple scripted 2013 The Walking Dead episode 'Clear,' which first brought Morgan back into Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) gravity after the characters parted ways in season 1. He also scripted season 6 bottle episode 'Here's Not Here,' which put the focus on Morgan as it developed his newfound "all life is precious" philosophy, which went on to play an important role in the first half of Fear season 4 in his dealings with Nick and then Alicia.

James told Digital Spy earlier this year the crossover between the two shows was only ever going to happen with Morgan at its center, revealing he was approached by Gimple with the idea to send Morgan to Fear.

"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,'" James said. "It wasn't a case of, 'This is going to happen,' it was genuinely a case of what I thought about it, there was absolutely a choice."

He later told Entertainment Weekly he was intrigued by the idea of Morgan having more breathing room on Fear, as the spinoff wields a smaller cast than its counterpart:

"My first reaction [to switching shows] was the idea of exploring a slightly different pace the way we can possibly explore Morgan here that we couldn't necessarily on The Walking Dead because it's such a big cast," James said. "So your story arc happens over a bigger arc, as it were, and that might be different here."

Fear The Walking Dead debuts the back half of season 4 Sunday, August 12 on AMC.