Former 'The Walking Dead' Star Steven Yeun: I'll Be "Forever Grateful" to Andrew Lincoln

Pizza boy-turned-apocalypse runner Glenn saved the life of Rick Grimes, but it's former The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun who will be forever grateful to soon-to-exit Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln.

In a letter penned by Yeun in honor of Lincoln, who steps down from the series after an almost nine-year run in Season Nine, Yeun hails Lincoln as "an incredible leader" and "one of the greatest" (via EW).

I think you'd be hard pressed to find people like Andy. He's that perfect mix of class, humor, and talent. I remember my first days with him on our show and remember how calm he made everyone. As a totally green kid starting work on my first ever show, I was absolutely terrified, but somehow on that first day I couldn't help but feel a sense of ease, as if someone had taken all the difficulty and nerves out of the situation for me. That was totally Andy Lincoln.

I learned quite a bit during my seven years on that show with him. Sometimes it was direct, like him taking the time to work through a scene on our off days with me. Other times it was passive, just me just looking up to him, asking myself if I could ever do that; if I could be so resolute in the face of enormous pressure.

I heard this from my cousin and it seems to encapsulate the environment that Andy generated around him: kindness breeds safety; safety breeds confidence. To know that things will be taken care of because your lead actor is also an incredible leader is something that I will be forever grateful for. I owe Andy quite a bit for helping and guiding me throughout my time with him on that show. I'm just trying to catch up to his example.

Congratulations, Andy. You're one of the greatest. Love you.

Yeun's fan-favorite Glenn Rhee was responsible for rescuing Rick from a zombie horde in the series' second-ever episode, bringing Rick into the small pack of Atlanta survivors where the fresh-out-of-a-coma sheriff's deputy reunited with his missing family.

After finding love with farmer's daughter Maggie (Lauren Cohan) on the Greene farm in Season Two, Glenn came into his own under Rick's leadership and emerged as the moral compass of a quickly-dwindling group decimated by frequent losses. Shortly after learning Maggie was pregnant when they found a new home in the relative safety of Alexandria, Glenn was brutally murdered by the barbwire-wrapped baseball bat of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

Yeun said Glenn's death meant giving the character a "lasting impact," saying at Walker Stalker Con Nashville in 2017 that the memorable and gory death prevented Glenn from fading into the background and gave him "this great exclamation point."

He later opened up to Vanity Fair about the controversial death, saying the moment was "like holding up a battered skull to the world to be like, 'Don't forget, this Asian person existed in this medium and now he's f—ing dead," Yeun said. "That's super cool! I'm cool with that."

Yeun admitted in March he no longer watches the show — he's been working on projects like Voltron and thriller Burning — but said he maintains friendships with his old castmates.

"I think the friendships are much more necessary to keep up with, so it's been nice," he said.

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Glenn lives on, in part, by way of baby Hershel, who has since been born in The Walking Dead Season Nine. The healthy baby boy is raised dutifully by single mother Maggie, who ferociously leads and defends the Hilltop community.

The Walking Dead Season Nine debuts Sunday, October 7 on AMC.