The big news surrounding the ninth season of The Walking Dead has nothing to do with zombies or even Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan. Instead, the long-running AMC survival drama is losing its main star, as Andrew Lincoln has confirmed that he will be exiting his role as Rick Grimes sometime during the upcoming season.

While the specifics of Lincoln’s departure are being kept under wraps, the void he will leave is most likely to be filled by Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon, who is widely expected to become the star of the ensemble series moving forward. That doesn’t mean Reedus is keen on moving forward without Lincoln by his side though.

“I was depressed,” Reedus admitted to The Hollywood Reporter during a press event at the show’s Atlanta set, referencing the moment he found out about Lincoln’s plan to leave. “We always had a pact that we weren’t going to leave the show without each other. ‘If you want to leave? Tell me.’ We were going to stay with it. So I knew [about Lincoln’s decision] before AMC knew. I knew before anyone knew. I tried to talk him out of it a thousand times. But I get it. He has two little kids outside of London. I have a little boy in New York, and I spend a lot of time [bouncing around between home and set], and I get it. At that age, you need to be able to be there. You can’t fault him.”

AMC

As sad as Reedus is about his friend leaving, he has no intention of honoring their pact either, as he is currently enjoying a deal that nets him a reported $20 million per season.

“I started on season one of the show, and I would love to bookend it,” Reedus said. “I’ve put so much effort into this. For me to walk away now would seem so cowardly. It’s a fight every day, in a million different ways, but it’s a fight I’m invested in. My family is here. I like my life here. I like riding my motorcycle through the country to work. I’ve lived in New York for a long time, and every time I go back to New York, I just want to go back to Georgia. It’s crazy [for me] there, especially as the show has become so big; I’m very recognizable with my long hair and my beady, scary little eyes. It’s hard for me to go anywhere, to be honest. I like it here. This is my family out here. I would love to see it to the end.”

It also helps that Reedus feels a close kinship with Daryl, the character who was written specifically for the actor in the first place. “It’s weird how the lines blur sometimes. For a long time, I would see people dressing [at conventions] as Daryl. Now, I see them dressing as me. They’re leaving their jobs to go on tours to dress as me, right now. It blends, sometimes.”

“As Daryl has gone from a crook to having a chip on his shoulder to not trusting anybody to having no friends and then slowly being trusted, slowly being part of a group and a family, to being a leader? My life has been like that,” he continues. “I’m a better friend. I’m a better father. I’m more responsible. I like my job. I pay attention more. I remember getting movies way back in the day and saying, ‘I don’t want to go.’ And they would say, ‘You have to go. It’s the studio paying for it.’ And I would try to get out of it. Now I’m making it work and having a good time doing it — and so is Daryl. He’s not having as good a time as me! But they’re very similar in some ways.”

Although Reedus will indeed be filling the void left by Lincoln’s departure, the actor doesn’t see it that way and downplayed the reports that he will be the new face of the franchise.”All of the characters are stepping up this year,” he insists.

AMC

Of course, Reedus could always see his plan to stay with The Walking Dead indefinitely cut short if the writers were to decide to kill Daryl off. However, if there ever comes a day when Daryl has to leave the show, he hopes it’s not as Walker meat.

“People used to ask me, ‘How do you want him to die?’ I don’t want him to die. I want him to walk up over a mountain and a little dog joins him, and people wonder, ‘Whatever happened to that guy?’ Almost like The Outlaw Josey Wales. Now … the building of the community and the group has never been a Daryl thing. It’s not him. You take care of your immediate family, and that’s it. I wouldn’t mind him heading west, wanting to go see what’s left, not caring about building these communities and fighting for what’s right. He just wants to go and see what else is out there. That would be an awesome show. I think that would be cool. Maybe I listen to too much Fleetwood Mac.”

As for a Daryl-focused Walking Dead spinoff? Yeah, Reedus is down for that too:

“Possibly,” he said. “If it looked cool. I just want to tell honest stories. This show is a huge show. The scripts are so long, and you have this many days to shoot them. It’s work. It’s tough. We shoot scenes on this show in an hour that if it were a movie, it would take four days to shoot. You have that luxury on a film. Not on this. I would like to slow the pace entirely. Don’t rush me. I’d like a tiny script and stretch it out. I think that would be fun. If it was like that? Yeah.”

The Walking Dead premieres Oct. 7 on AMC.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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