The Walking Dead Actor Argues Rick Grimes Is a Villain

The Walking Dead actor Jayson Warner Smith argues Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was a villain to the Saviors, the antagonistic group led by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Smith, who played high-ranking outpost leader Gavin, one of the more diplomatic members of the Saviors, says Negan's crew were "not the villains" despite going to war with Rick's band of survivors in the show's seventh and eighth seasons. After uniting the four communities subjugated by Negan and the Saviors, Rick ended the war between the two sides when he captured Negan and called for the remaining Saviors to surrender without further loss of life.

"I always joke about it when people ask me about what it's like to be a villain, and I reply, 'Who is the villain? Rick is the villain. They are the villains, we are the good guys, we are the Saviors,'" Smith told Walking Dead BR, making an exception for Negan's former right-hand man Simon (Steven Ogg).

"Simon is a character who, without Negan's control, becomes dangerous," he added, comparing Simon to "psychotic" Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton). "Negan is more of a sociopath, he is a narcissist, everything is about him. But he was very good at dealing with groups of people and managing it, and Simon flourished under him as he had control over Simon. Simon off the leash is dangerous."

"So we were villains out of necessity because everyone is a villain out of necessity in this kind of world," Smith continued.

Asked what might have become of his character if he survived the war, Smith said Gavin "would be able to redeem himself" and assimilate into one of the allied communities that welcomed other ex-Saviors, including Laura (Lindsley Register) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe).

The Walking Dead Gavin Jayson Warner Smith
Smith (center) as Gavin. Photo: AMC

Morgan pointed fingers at Rick in a 2018 interview with Good Morning America, where the Negan actor said Rick was "just as bad" as his enemies:

"I think at this point in the story, everybody who has made it this far in the apocalypse has done some very horrible things," Morgan said. "If we had been following Negan for eight years, we would be on Negan's side and Rick would be horrible. I mean, look at the stuff these guys have done. They're at least as bad as what I've done."


Lincoln's Rick Grimes returns to the Walking Dead Universe in the untitled Walking Dead theatrical feature film now in development from AMC, Skybound Entertainment, and Universal Pictures.

The Walking Dead Season 10 finale, “A Certain Doom,” premieres Sunday, October 4 on AMC, followed by the series premiere of new spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.