Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira Are Back. Will ‘Walking Dead’ Fans Follow?

When Rick Grimes, the rugged, righteous former sheriff played by Andrew Lincoln in AMC’s zombie horror series “The Walking Dead,” was written out of the series at Lincoln’s request in its ninth season, the show seemed to lose its hero, its heart and its hopeful moral center. A well-weathered and much brutalized leader, Rick was part of an ever-expanding ensemble but always felt like the main character.

Rick’s departure created a vacuum that the show — which concluded in November 2022 after more than 150 episodes and 11 seasons — could never quite fill, even as a six-year time jump moved the story ahead into the future. Audiences seemed to lose interest, too: Ratings plummeted toward the end of the show’s run to a fraction of what they were during its mid-2010s peak popularity.

Rick was never actually killed off: He left “The Walking Dead” under mysterious (and somewhat contentious) circumstances, whisked away by an unexplained helicopter with the promise of one day returning in a planned series of movies. Those movies instead morphed into a new six-part mini-series that reveals what happened to Rick after his sudden departure. “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” premiering Feb. 25 on AMC and AMC+, finds Lincoln reprising his signature role in a new setting: a dystopian metropolis called the Civic Republic ruled by a military police force called the Civic Republic Military, or C.R.M.

“The Ones Who Live” reunites Rick with his wife, Michonne, the katana-wielding firebrand played by Danai Gurira, who left “The Walking Dead” early in the show’s 10th season. Gurira and Lincoln have stepped up to serve as executive producers on “The Ones Who Live,” with Gurira also credited as a creator alongside Scott M. Gimple, the former “Walking Dead” showrunner and current chief content officer for the “Walking Dead” universe.

Lincoln and Gurira starred together for many years in “The Walking Dead” until Lincoln left in Season 9, and Gurira in Season 10.Credit…Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

In a video interview from Los Angeles just before the premiere screening of “The Ones Who Live,” Lincoln and Gurira were chatty and playful, with the air of old friends who are totally at ease together. Lincoln, blithe and funny, kept insisting that Gurira answer questions first, while Gurira, trying to hastily scarf down a salad, mimicked him back: “You go ahead.” “No, you go ahead!” “No, YOU go ahead!” They eventually managed to discuss why they left “The Walking Dead,” why they came back and how “The Ones Who Live” differs from the original. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

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