‘Walking Dead: Ones Who Live’ Stars Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln Tease Return to Zombie Franchise

Rexa Vella

‘Walking Dead: Ones Who Live’ Stars Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln Tease Return to Zombie Franchise

For the first time since 2018, Rick Grimes and Michonne will be back together onscreen.

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” is now the seventh series in the zombie survival franchise overall and the third spinoff to feature main characters from the mothership show after “The Walking Dead: Dead City” and “The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.”

The show was originally planned as a series of movies, which were announced as soon as Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln departed the main show in 2018. According to Lincoln, Michonne actress Danai Gurira, and “The Walking Dead” chief content officer Scott Gimple, the conversations around how to bring the two characters back together began as soon as they were separated.

“When Andy was leaving the mothership, his idea was to carry on the story in a different form,” Gurira said. “And then he’d said to me, ‘I want you to be a part of that.’ So when I left the mothership, that was contracted into what I was going to do next.”

In the original plan, Lincoln would have starred in the first film solo, with Gurira appearing at the end in a cameo, setting up the remaining films. But, as Gimple put it, “possibilities and probabilities kept changing.” That included working around Gurira’s packed schedule, taken up in no small part by her commitments to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All three remained in close contact in the intervening years to hash out the creative of what would become “The Ones Who Live.” Thus, Gimple, Lincoln, and Gurira are all credited as co-creators on the new series.

But how to recreate the magic that made “The Walking Dead” one of the biggest shows on television?

One way was to bring in a number of high-ranking members of the production team from the original show. Per Lincoln, nearly a dozen department heads on “The Ones Who Live” had previously worked on “The Walking Dead.” Lincoln also praised the new director of photography, whom he said “knows more about ‘The Walking Dead’ than [Gurira and I] do.”

Working with so many familiar people helped contribute to the family dynamic behind the scenes for which “The Walking Dead” was so well known. But Lincoln says something else helped bond the new crewmembers during shooting as well.

“There’s something about a week of night shoots in the middle of winter in New Jersey that’s galvanizing,” he said with a laugh.

Aside from the familial comradery, the show was also able to rely on the undeniable chemistry between Lincoln and Gurira. It’s something both of them noticed from the first time they worked together back in Season 3 of the mothership show.

“I remember I said to someone, ‘This weird thing happens with Andy. There’s this energy,’” Gurira said. “It was one of those things where you just lock in with someone like that. You don’t have to work for it.”

Will the return of that “Richonne” energy restore the franchise to its former glory? After all, linear ratings are nowhere near what they were in “The Walking Dead’s” heyday, and the continued fracturing of the TV audience makes pulling together a meaningful viewership all the more difficult.

So can the franchise continue beyond the current slate of shows?

“I think it can go on forever,” Gimple said. “Robert Kirkman pitched it as the zombie movie that never ends. And even though he ended the comics, I am trying to fulfill his vision and keep it going in classic ways, with characters you know, that you wouldn’t even expect very different experimental way.”

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” premieres on AMC and AMC+ on Feb. 25.


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