Continuing our coverage of The Walking Dead Season 4, I caught up with Andrew Lincoln ahead of his appearance at New York Comic Con to discuss the latest season. Not only does he tease what's ahead, but he also talks about what he read to prepare for the new episodes, catching up on the comic book series, and his interest in playing Rick Grimes if he survives the fourth season:
There’s a lot for fans of The Walking Dead to get excited for in the upcoming season, based on what I’ve seen in the first two episodes. What excites you about this season and how is it different from the past three?
Andrew Lincoln: The scripts, storytelling, and character development for this season have been astonishing. And just wait because it builds and builds in very different and unique ways.
They have character pushing drama in all aspects this season. I think we’re bringing back the scares as well. Last season was thrilling because it was an action-packed rollercoaster ride, but it’s almost like they’re making it much more of a psychological thriller and horror show. Don’t get me wrong… I think this mid-season finale is the biggest and bravest episode we’ve ever done, so we’re not without the action sequences.
I’ve always been of the opinion that repetition is death. We’re doing something so crazy anyway… why don’t we keep trying to push and reinvent it? We have a responsibility to the people on the other side of the camera to tell the story that you guys deserve. There are two episodes this season that I think are the best episodes we’ve ever had and I’m not in either of them.
When you prepared for Season 3, you told me that you read “The Things They Carried” and “The Road.” What did you do to prepare for Season 4? Were there any books in particular that you read?
Andrew Lincoln: I’ve been reading more books about philosophy. There’s an amazing book that I’m telling everyone about, written by John Gray. It’s a philosophy book called Straw Dogs and it’s one of the most profound and radical books. I’m really interested in society, because that’s what we’re working on right now. I’m also interested in the beginning of civilization and the history of man. There’s another great book I’m through, called The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson. It looks purely at the biological side about how we are social animals.
I’m reading Graham Greene novels in my spare time and I’m always reading Cormac McCarthy. But, at the moment, I’m very interested in society and starting over again. I’ve been reading less fiction and more factual books.
Last year, you mentioned that you were going to try to catch up on The Walking Dead comic book series. Were you able to read any of it?
Andrew Lincoln: I absolutely did! Robert Kirkman kept to his word and sent me a very heavy bundle of books. I read to a certain point that I felt was apt this season. I’m really pleased as well, because there’s one book in particular, and I won’t say much about it, but the hardcore fanbase is going to be thrilled to see one particular episode this season.
It’s an incredible thing and I love what you said about the pacing of the first two episodes, because the book is like that. [*Note: We discussed the first two episodes before the interview technically started, but it has been omitted to avoid spoilers] It was great to return to it because it’s slow and seeps in, and it’s terribly shocking. I love the rhythm of the book. Robert has done a tremendous job of exploring these new characters and having the shockingly terrible bursts. I like the balance of the book and no wonder it’s been so successful. That man has an incredibly twisted imagination…
Gale Anne Hurd mentioned that Chandler Riggs has been fantastic this season to the point that he would be able to carry his own episode. What has your experience been like with him this season? How is it to watch him growing up as an actor and a person year to year?
Andrew Lincoln: It’s been one of my great joys. I love that man and we struck gold with him. You can never guarantee what you’re going to get with young actors. He’s such a polite and well brought up young man. He’s very respectful and he works really, really hard. He’s also very funny and much more grown up than I am, believe it or not. I think this is going to be the breakout season for him. Chandler is doing some wonderful work. I don’t’ want to give too much away, but there’s an episode where he’s going to blow everyone’s minds and it was a thrill to see him. For me, this season is really about a boy becoming a man and the father accepting that. It’s a beautiful story and the zombie apocalypse adds a little spice to the mix.
Looking at the life of this series, it’s been mentioned by AMC and Gale Anne Hurd that The Walking Dead could go beyond the usual seven seasons we see for a TV series. Is playing Rick Grimes something you can see yourself doing for years to come?
Andrew Lincoln: I may not be doing it by the end of the season. It is one of those shows where no one is really safe. Of course Rick is in the comics still, but we do our own thing. All I will say is that, story wise, what we’re doing this season has got me so excited. One of the most enjoyable parts of this season has been seeing the wealth of acting talent and everyone getting a chance to shine. It feels like we’re going into deeper and darker waters this season, which I’m excited about.
If we keep doing that and are not able to repeat stories and push my character into different places, and keep him alive, I’d be more than happy to keep playing this role. If they keep coming up with great storylines, great character developments, and the scripts continue to be as good as they have been this season, I’d be thrilled if they kept me alive.
We're not done yet with our special features for The Walking Dead Season 4, so check back this weekend for more coverage. Until then, check out our previous coverage by visiting the following links: