Sunday April 14th, 2024 10:07AM

Richonne rises in 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live' starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira

By The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Danai Gurira remembers a moment filming “ The Walking Dead ” which she now believes contributed to the future pairing of her character Michonne with Andrew Lincoln's Rick.

It was during season three, Gurira's first season on the show. The scene featured Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan and Michael Rooker. Gurira recalls Michonne wielding her trademark samurai sword, ready to kill Rooker's character Merle. Lincoln's Rick stood in between Michonne and Merle, preventing Michonne from going too far.

“You said to me afterwards, 'It was like there was only the two of us in the scene,' Gurira reminded Lincoln in a recent sit-down interview with The Associated Press. ”I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of true... What was that about?’”

Moments like those that added up, leaving an impression on the cast, crew and fans, and inspiring the writers to diverge from the comics and unite the two fan favorite characters as a couple, known as Richonne.

Gurira and Lincoln return to “The Walking Dead” universe on Sunday in “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live," debuting on both AMC and AMC+. The actors are executive producers, along with “The Walking Dead” Chief Content Officer Scott M. Gimple and others. The cast also includes Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”), Lesley-Ann Brandt (“Lucifer”), Craig Tate and Matthew August Jeffers.

In this sixth spin-off of the original show, viewers find Rick and Michonne still trying to find their way back to each other after being physically separated for years (or, the show's ninth season finale, when Lincoln departed.) The actors were careful to not reveal any spoilers, but spoke about their characters, the original series and working together.

Answers have been condensed for clarity and brevity.

AP: Andrew, for the nine seasons you were on the original series, it's been said you had a producer-like role and took a greater interest in the show as a whole. That all encompassing role must have been very taxing at the time.

LINCOLN: I used to come home exhausted after eight months and it took about two weeks to decompress because it was such a sort of monastic effort of just control day to day, to not miss a scene, “Let’s make sure we lock this down. let's make sure we do this right.” I (left the show), had two, three years and then COVID and all that, but I missed it. I missed that responsibility. And then I started to get less and less respect in my house from my children. And they know all of my best jokes. They know my worldview. I’ve got no currency in my household, so really, I want to get some creds back with my family.

AP: Danai, you joined the show in season three when it was already a hit. The Michonne character was well-known to the comic readers but were you nervous about how your version would be received? Do you remember how you felt at the time?

GURIRA: I really, really wanted the Michonne role and was surprised I’d never come across the story of her before, I thought she was just such an interesting Black woman. I'd never seen a character like her and (as a playwright), I’m busy trying to write Black women. The show was already a juggernaut so it was scary. And not just because she was already this cool character that deserved justice, but also because these guys had already done all this work. Also, I’d never watched the show. I’m a scaredy cat. I don’t watch that stuff. I don’t watch horror, I don’t watch zombies ... but I had to watch it and I was like, "Oh, this is so not about zombies." And sometimes as a writer you just want to write, but I wanted to be a part of that. Then it was like, “Now this four-foot sword and me have to become friends.”

AP: Andrew, from the pilot episode, the character of Rick was the heartbeat of the show. Viewers obviously loved him, but what are your thoughts on Rick?

LINCOLN: I love him a lot. I miss playing him. I missed his heart. There was a quote that I loved: A hero is a man who does what he can. I think that’s him.

AP: Danai, do you think Andrew shares some of Rick's leadership qualities?

GURIRA: Andy definitely was very much a leader on the set, and set the tone and set the energy. There was no ego on the set because he didn't have an ego.

LINCOLN: That was set by (show creator) Frank Darabont and all of the ensemble.

GURIRA: I had never met Frank so when I got there all I had was you. You were all I had.

LINCOLN: OK, but that was Frank.

GURIRA: Yeah, but you could've had it or not. You could've kept it going or not. Whatever! Just take the compliment! You really grounded the energy of the space and made it a place you wanted to go to every day so that everyone loved each other. There was respect. There was joy. It was a joyful place to come to work as we killed each other. You were No. 1 on the call sheet driving the same Ford Focus for nine years.

LINCOLN: It was a hybrid. I was saving the planet way before anybody else.

AP: Do you look at “The Ones Who Live” as a chapter to a story or a bow that ties up loose ends?

LINCOLN: I'd like to think both. I like to think that it would exist as its own thing, but with a dot, dot, dot afterwards.

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