After nine seasons as Rick Grimes, one of the main protagonists of AMC’s The Walking Dead, star Andrew Lincoln is slated to leave the show this year. His departure is sure to be an emotional one, since we’ve followed Rick since the very first moments of the pilot episode. For Lincoln’s castmates, saying goodbye has got to be even tougher.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, current and former Walking Dead cast members penned tributes to Lincoln on the eve of his final season. Each one is a little bit more heartbreaking than the last, and they all have special memories of Lincoln from his costars. Nearly every statement calls out how hardworking and dedicated Lincoln is as an actor and how kind and welcoming he is as a person.
“I always say he hatched from an egg because he’s such a rare breed,” wrote Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne. “It really amazed me when I joined the show in 2012, the lead actor was selfless, eager for all to excel, celebratory, passionate, funny and kind to boot. He also had an endless well of joy.”
Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays Lincoln’s on-screen wife, Lori, said he taught her and the rest of the cast “how not to be a star. To be the first one to set, the hardest worker, to never complain. To give your best work off-camera for someone else.”
Chandler Riggs, who played Rick’s son, Carl (who died in season eight), said, “There were times on the show that I felt unmotivated or exhausted, but then I looked to Andy and saw how much work he put into his role and became inspired to push forward.”
“I love Andy,” said Jon Bernthal, who played Rick’s best friend, Shane, in the first two seasons of The Walking Dead. “I can’t think of another actor in my life that has had more of an impact on me, and that is more important to me. He is fiercely dedicated, but also unbelievably available and kind.”
Norman Reedus, who joined the show in season one as Daryl Dixon, said, “Andy is the best leading man on television, and a glowing example of what everyone that’s come onto this show has tried to follow, and he’s done that since day one.”
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) September 28, 2018
Are you crying yet? These are just brief excerpts of each of these stars’ quotes about Lincoln; their full statements are even more heartfelt. EW’s The Walking Dead cast tribute to Lincoln also featured quotes from current and former series stars Lennie James, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan (who also leaves the show in season nine), Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Steven Ogg, Khary Payton and others. Seriously, get the tissues ready now. You’ll need them.