"I love Danai. She's such a force on the show," Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus told the Daily News. "Her last day on set, we gathered everybody together. And I organized an hour-long fireworks show because I love fireworks. It was big. There was a gigantic Michonne cake. It was a three-dimensional bust of Michonne as a cake. It was a very sad day, there were lots of tears."
Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln, written off The Walking Dead in its ninth season nearly a year ago, was similarly celebrated with a pool party. And like best bud Lincoln, who stepped away from leading man duties to spend more time with family, Reedus says he "can't be mad" at his longtime co-star for choosing to make Season 10 her last — even if he did beg her to stay.
"Yeah, it was really sad for me. I had become so close to Danai and I just adore her," Reedus recently told EW. "She's somebody that always shows up at and brings the noise every single time she's on camera and she's become a really good friend, a partner. I get it though, she has other things that she wants to do. Her dream is she'll run a show. That's what her dream's been for a while, and now's her time to do it."
Gurira will act as showrunner on coming HBO Max series Americanah, where she reunites with her Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong'o. When announcing her exit from TWD at San Diego Comic-Con in July, Gurira said she felt a "calling" to other works.
"The beauty is that TWD Family is forever and I came in in 2012 and felt this energy and this connection never ends. It's not connected to the decision I made," Gurira said. "It was about my calling and other things I feel called to and the opportunities I've had through the other things I do as a creator of work."
Gurira later admitted she "struggled" with that announcement, which ended with a teary Gurira received by a standing ovation from a packed Hall H.
"It's really what I shared at Comic-Con with the fans, which was really the key place to share it with all those amazing fans who devote themselves to coming and spend time with us every year," Gurira recently told ET. "And where I really felt the first embrace from what the TWD family meant was there, seven, eight years ago. So, it was very difficult to tell that to the audience and I struggled through it because it wasn't an easy decision to make, but it was time for me to start exploring other aspects of what I do as a storyteller."