Andrew Lincoln finds joy fighting zombies in AMC's 'The Walking Dead'
Remember the eerie opening of "The Walking Dead"?
It was spooky and compelling, but ... was it funny?
It was to Andrew Lincoln, who plays the dazed and confused sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who walks out of a hospital into a zombie apocalypse on AMC's hit series, "The Walking Dead."
"When I did the looping for episode one, the opening three-minute sequence with Rick walking into the gas station and the girl zombie, I laughed out loud," Lincoln said during a phone interview on Thursday. "I knew what was coming but I laughed out loud. I was so shocked by it. It's certainly an intense sequence."
The British actor says he's been so surprised by scenes they've filmed -- especially the one in the second episode in which Rick and a few others chop up a zombie and smear the blood on themselves to avoid being attacked by more zombies -- that he often wondered during the filming of the first season if the series was going straight to DVD.
"I’ve never been on a show where everything we spoke about from the beginning of the show has been so clearly appreciated at the end after the edit," Lincoln said. "Sometimes it gets lost along the way. That all that gore made the final cuts is astonishing, really. I think in one sense I admire AMC for the courage of their convictions and the fact that they’re not pulling any punches in regards to the brutality of it. If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t have the extremes of the emotional content that the characters go through. Once you establish the rule of the world and the place they inhabit -- and they are so brutal and so extreme -- then you can afford to push the ante a little bit with the acting as well. They go hand in hand."
An instant hit, "The Walking Dead" is AMC's biggest success story to date. Executive-produced by Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption"), the series garners more viewers than AMC's other critically-acclaimed and award-winning series, "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," combined. [Updated at 11:10 a.m.: In an earlier version of this post, Frank Darabont's name was misspelled; the error has been corrected.]
"I suppose the most overriding sense that we all have at the moment is joy that people got what we were trying to do," Lincoln said. "People's reactions have been extraordinary. It feels like a big old Trojan horse. You go in under the guise of a big old zombie and then we get into people’s front rooms and we start making people feel things for these characters.
"It’s like nothing I’d ever read before. I love it. I think that’s always a good place to start."
The actor says he's been more surprised by the show's quiet quality than its high level of gore.
"That’s the bit I didn’t expect so much," he said. "I think it has to be noted that the sound design on this is amazing. Their job has been to strip it of sound -- more harrowing, more surprising and epic, I suppose. You take the sound of this world and it becomes a terribly lonely place."
"All I can say is that I chose to do this job primarily because I wanted to work with Frank Darabont and I trust the man completely," he said.
Production on the second season, which will consist of 13 episodes, hasn't begun, which Lincoln says is driving him a little crazy because he wants to know where the story is headed.
"As in most, if not all of this show, it’s important that the audience doesn’t get too comfortable," he said, teasing the season finale. "You wait. It seems to be that we’ve found the promised land, but hold on to your hats. You'll see that when we drive off at the end there's a definite sense of where, what, how, now what do we do? I think there’s something brilliant about that. There’s no end to that. Robert Kirkman was adamant about that -- he wanted his comic book to keep going. So it’s more about how these characters change, how they’re corrupted, exulted, and irrevocably damaged by the situation. There’s no right or wrong answers in this world and I think that’s going to be one of the most exciting things of the future -- seeing how that changes all of these characters over time."
-- Maria Elena Fernandez
Photo: Andrew Lincoln on the set of "The Walking Dead." Credit: Scott Garfield / AMC