James, who starred in The Walking Dead on-and-off since its pilot episode in 2010 through April’s Season Eight finale, boarded spinoff Fear The Walking Dead at the start of its semi-rebooted fourth season.
He joined just as former series lead Kim Dickens’ Madison Clark was marked for death — she was killed off this past mid-season finale — and The Walking Dead will similarly have to navigate the loss of longtime leading man Andrew Lincoln, who takes Rick Grimes with him when he departs the flagship series just six episodes into Season Nine’s 16-episode run.
“The only thing I can really say about those without giving any spoilers is that they are both these stories that have to be navigated,” the British actor told Metro.co.uk of losing Dickens’ Madison and Lincoln’s Rick.
“The essence of both of those characters is going to be felt not just through the remaining episodes of Season Nine but possibly for seasons to come in the future. I doubt the fallout of those characters will be glossed over in what remains of our seasons. I think both of those characters cast huge shadows and both those shows will exist in the shadows that they left behind.”
The stars of Fear are already on the record dishing Madison’s absence will carry through the back half of Season Four, pushing forward the narratives of the left-behind Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Victor Strand (Colman Domingo), and the tight-knit survivors of The Walking Dead will also “deal with” the no-longer-around Rick Grimes.
“It’s not taking the easy path. I think it’s important to say that when we talk about the Walking Dead universe, it’s not just lip-sync to prove anyone can die, we mean anybody can go,” James said. “No one is secure in this world and sometimes we have to remind the audience and remind ourselves of that, and to a lesser — or greater — extent, both those passings are brave and great examples of that.”
Dickens’ exit came as a surprise — the actress was told of Madison’s planned death going into Season Four, admitting later she was “heartbroken” and “devastated” to learn Madison’s fate — while father-of-two Lincoln chose to step away from the series in favor of spending more time with his young family.
Fear The Walking Dead airs its Season Four mid-season premiere Sunday, August 12. The Walking Dead Season Nine premiere airs Sunday, October 7 on AMC.