‘The Walking Dead’ Star Andrew Lincoln Talks Rick Grimes’ New Look in Season 9

Departing The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln lobbied for Rick Grimes’ much-shorter haircut in the revamped Season Nine, which sees the Alexandrian leader sporting an all-new look with a buzzcut and a bushier beard.

“Everybody gets a little over-excited, I think, when people do a time-jump. You think, ‘how can I look different? Feel different? Scars. Hair color,’” Lincoln said during The Walking Dead Season Nine preview special. “I mean, I’ve got no choice in the matter, I’m just going grey. I thought it would be a really good idea to cut my hair.”

Lincoln took issue with Rick’s first attempt at a new ‘do, which left the rugged zombie-slayer looking “too handsome.”

“And then we got it cut once — someone came in and he said the wrong word to me. He said, ‘you look really handsome,’” Lincoln said.

“And I went, ‘Rick Grimes does not look handsome, that’s not the point of what Rick Grimes is about. He’s a sheriff’s deputy from Atlanta, Georgia, he doesn’t give a f—k about being sexy and good-looking. He’s an apocalyptic warrior who kills zombies for a living.’ Before I knew it, I was almost bald.”

Then, laughing, Lincoln recalled reacting to Rick’s new cut, which he anticipated would make co-star Danai Gurira — who plays Rick’s lover, Michonne — “furious, because she loves my long hair.”

Also in-store for new looks this season are Aaron (Ross Marquand), who after an 18-month time-jump now sports a full beard, and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who has since gone blind in his right eye, as revealed by The Walking Dead Season Nine trailer.

Other status quo changes include a new romance for Carol (Melissa McBride) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) — who may strike up a family unit of their own with Ezekiel’s young ward Henry (Macsen Lintz) — and an even bigger leadership role for Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who has since given birth to baby Hershel Rhee.

The new looks and re-positioning of some of its biggest characters are just a part of what is making The Walking Dead Season Nine a better show than it has been in years past: stars Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) promised during San Diego Comic-Con the show is tighter and better than ever under new showrunner Angela Kang.

“The stories have more depth, this All Out War thing is not happening anymore, it’s internal. I’ve done scenes this season that I’m more proud of than I’ve done in five years,” Reedus told MTV.

“It’s a different show. You’re gonna love this season. I know we come here every year and we say the show is better than it was last year, but it’s true this time.”

Added Morgan, “I think where the show has gone, storytelling wise, is stronger than ever. Even Andy’s like, ‘This is the best season we’ve had since I shot the pilot.’ That kind of feel. It just has a different feel, it’s a new world.”

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That new world will emerge in part due to the loss of Lincoln, who closes out his time as Rick Grimes this half-season to spend more time with his young family.

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