Chandler Riggs Describes How He Felt When Andrew Lincoln Left The Walking Dead

Chandler Riggs opened up about TV dad Andrew Lincoln's exit from The Walking Dead, coming not long after Riggs' Carl Grimes was killed off midway through its eighth season. The leading man, who played Rick Grimes for almost nine seasons, originally planned to step away in Season 8, and quietly prepared for a future exit with then-showrunner Scott Gimple as far back as Season 4. Lincoln ultimately decided to renew his contract for five more episodes under showrunner Angela Kang in Season 9, part of an exit strategy spinning off Rick into a planned movie trilogy with a less exhaustive schedule allowing for Lincoln to spend more time with family.

"Honestly, I’m super happy for him. Because I’m pretty sure he spent more time on set with me than he did raising his own kids in England," Riggs said of Lincoln's exit during FAN EXPO Vancouver. "So when he was gonna be leaving the show — I knew kind of [before]."

"He had told me in Season 8, after he found out that I was leaving the show. He said, like, 'Man, I’m tired. It’s been a long time, every day,'" he continued. "So I couldn’t be more happy for him that he’s home and he’s with his kids, he’s with his wife and his family. I’m just super happy for him to be able to be a normal dad for a while instead of working for 16 hours every day."

Since the exits of both Grimes men, the zombie drama now in the middle of its tenth season has introduced a slew of new faces, including an aged-up Judith Grimes (now played by Cailey Fleming), lead villain Alpha (Samantha Morton) of the Whisperers, as well as fan-favorite newcomers like Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff).

"As sad as it is to see Rick go, I think they’ve done an incredible job kind of picking up the next storylines and developing all the other characters," Riggs added. "I’m super happy with the way the show is going, and it’s really turned around. I’m really happy with it."

Riggs still keeps in contact with Lincoln, who is "all around such an amazing guy." Like Carl and Rick, Riggs looks up to Lincoln, described by Riggs as being "very engaged" in his life off-set.

"I feel like with Andy, over the years, I really tried to learn from him and I wish I had appreciated it more in the early seasons. Because that dude showed up every day knowing every single word of the script that we were shooting that day," Riggs said. "He knew, obviously, his lines from top to bottom … he knew everybody else’s lines word for word, he knew all the stage direction. It was insane how well that dude knew everything on the show. He just showed up so prepared every day and really just inspired everyone around him to push as hard as he did."

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Riggs continued, "He was just so excited to be there every day. He would show up and greet everyone on the crew, and I’m pretty sure he knew everybody’s names. It’s just so crazy. I really, really looked up to him and I really tried to learn from him. I still try to learn from him rewatching old episodes. He just brought a level of professionalism and passion to the show. It was just a great role model for me to look up to, and inspired me to be that passionate on all my other projects."

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays on AMC. For more TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.