'The Walking Dead' Executive Producer Teases the "Weight" of Andrew Lincoln's Departure

The Walking Dead executive producer and former showrunner Scott Gimple has opened up about the looming departure of longtime leading man Andrew Lincoln, who exits his Rick Grimes role in Season Nine.

"The weight of the character and the amazing actor's departure ups the game of the entire writing staff, the cast, the crew," Gimple said live on Talking Dead following the Fear The Walking Dead Season Four finale Sunday.

"As we get closer and closer, it gets better and better and better, because the weight of that departure is being felt by everyone. But it has resulted in just some amazing storytelling, a real, new feeling to the show that Angela [Kang] has brought to it."

Kang succeeds Gimple as showrunner following his promotion to Chief Content Officer, overseeing the entire Walking Dead brand for network AMC.

The refreshed season under Kang, an eight-year series veteran, is a "remarkable season," Gimple said.

"Andy's performance, in and of itself, is... imbued with the weight of his departure and it's that much more powerful and exciting, and they're operating at the top of their game."

Kang previously admitted on Talking Dead that in handling the stepping away of Lincoln, who retires the Rick Grimes role to spend more time with his young family, she "just [didn't] want to mess it up" and she strived to "do service to this character."

"The writers, and everybody, the crew, the actors, everybody's just putting their all into it because we love him so much and we respect him so much, and we want to do service to that journey. I feel a great responsibility to the fans to try to write him out in a way that's worthy of his character, so I hope that we accomplished that," Kang said.

She elaborated on being tasked with sending off the series' central character when speaking to IGN, opening up about the difficulty in writing out "the person who brought us into the show."

"Obviously there's a lot of expectations and we really hope that we don't let people down; we hope that people come along for the ride, but I do think it's an incredibly emotional journey and I think the performances and the work that people have done are pretty amazing," she said.

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Having completed his acting work on Season Nine, Lincoln will be returning to its set to shadow a director as he gears up to make his first Walking Dead directorial effort in Season Ten.

Rick Grimes' final episodes begin this Sunday, October 7 at 9/8c on AMC.