‘Walking Dead’ Star Lennie James Speaks Out on Andrew Lincoln Exit

The Walking Dead-turned-Fear The Walking Dead star Lennie James “completely” understands and [...]

The Walking Dead-turned-Fear The Walking Dead star Lennie James "completely" understands and supports Andrew Lincoln's decision to step away from the role of Rick Grimes after nearly nine seasons.

James' Morgan intends to return home to Alexandria, Virginia, and reunite with Rick Grimes after running away from people at the start of Fear Season Four. Arriving back east only to learn Rick is dead or gone would "have a profound effect on Morgan," James told ScreenRant.

"They still remain oldest friends. They are touchstones the way their stories have been told to a greater or lesser extent when their paths crossed. They do act as kind of options of which way to take, you know. Right at the beginning when Rick left to go to Atlanta and Morgan stayed, that was a fundamental choice between the two of them."

The pair parted ways early on in the first season after Morgan and son, Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), took in a disoriented Rick Grimes, just out of a weeks-long coma and freshly awakened in the zombie apocalypse. Rick and Morgan wouldn't meet again until Season Three, when a now-crazed Morgan revealed Duane was killed by his mother, Morgan's reanimated wife, Jenny (Keisha Tillis).

Season Five revealed Morgan was working his way towards Rick after discovering a message scribbled by Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) on a left-behind map in the church where Rick and co. holed up before deciding to head to Washington, DC. In Virginia, Rick finally reconnected with a reformed Morgan.

"And I think, as I've said before, when Morgan's lost everything, it's not by coincidence the person he went to find after that was Rick because Rick is the only other person that he knew still alive in the world," James said. "I think that connection will last for life between those two men, however long that life is."

Morgan has long nursed a fragile mental state, and should he make it back home and find Rick isn't there, it could prove deeply damaging.

"Should Morgan return to Virginia or should he cross paths with the people of Alexandria, or Hilltop, or the Kingdom, or Oceanside, or the Heaps again, I think him finding out that Rick is not amongst them will be a profound discovery for Morgan — and I'm not absolutely sure the effect that might have on him and what that might push him to do or be," he said.

"On a personal level, I completely understand the decision that Andy made, and I support him 100%."

Lincoln, a father of two, publicly confirmed his exit for the first time at San Diego Comic-Con where he said he was stepping away to spend more time with family.

Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. The Walking Dead returns with Season Nine Sunday, October 7.