1:53pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead': Andrew Lincoln Eyes Season 10 Return as Director
Earlier this year, in announcing his departure from The Walking Dead, star Andrew Lincoln stressed that his "relationship with Rick Grimes [was] far from over." It would appear the outgoing star of the AMC zombie drama is living up to his word, with an eye on a new role in the Walking Dead universe.
In a new interview, Lincoln states his intention to return to The Walking Dead, albeit in an unexpected capacity: as a director. The erstwhile Sheriff Grimes tells EW he intends to direct an episode of the AMC series "next year," a process he's beginning by returning to the show's Georgia shooting location to shadow a director.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed Lincoln's return to set to shadow, though representatives for the show would not confirm that Lincoln is directing an episode in season 10; indeed, the series has yet to be renewed past the forthcoming ninth season.
As for Lincoln's motivation for directing, the actor tells EW, "I can't be that far away because I can't bear it. That's how much I am invested in the show and the continuation of the story." The remarks line up with what Lincoln said at Comic-Con, when he announced his exit from the series: "Norman [Reedus, who plays Daryl] and Danai [Gurira, who plays Michonne] send me scripts so I can keep one eye on the series."
Lincoln becomes the latest Walking Dead cast member to make the leap from on-screen work to directing, following Fear the Walking Dead actor Colman Domingo and Michael Cudlitz, who directed season nine's seventh episode.
Before he leaps behind the camera, Lincoln will first depart the Walking Dead universe as Rick Grimes. The exact details behind his departure are still a large question heading into the ninth season. Rick remains alive and well in the comic books from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, as does his son, Carl (Chandler Riggs), who was killed off in season eight of the show.
Even without Rick and Carl, The Walking Dead (now under the leadership of Angela Kang, taking over showrunner duties from Scott M. Gimple, who has been promoted to oversee the franchise as chief content officer) stands poised to adapt one of the most celebrated arcs from Kirkman's comics: the Whisperer War, which introduces survivors who wear suits made out of human flesh in order to blend in with the dead and walk among them. Samantha Morton joins the cast this season in the series regular role of Alpha, leader of the Whisperers, while Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst has signed on as Beta, Alpha's lieutenant.
Follow THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage.