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As Andrew Lincoln eyes his exit from The Walking Dead, the AMC drama is busy finding new faces to fill in the void — and in the case of the latest actor added to the mix, the series is even finding some Fantastic Beasts.
Dan Fogler, best known for his role as Jacob Kowalski in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the forthcoming sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, has signed on for a role in season nine of The Walking Dead, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Fogler is playing Luke, a character who is part of a new group of survivors that encounters the Alexandria gang. In the comics, Luke’s time is short-lived, but as Skybound notes, fates often change between the source material and the TV adaptation.
Additionally, Eleanor Matsuura (already an AMC veteran with her role as Baron Chau on Into the Badlands) is also joining the Walking Dead cast for season nine, THR has confirmed. She will play Yumiko, a survivor of the zombie apocalypse who appears in the comic books. In Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s source material, Yumiko is part of a group that encounters Rick Grimes (Lincoln) and the Alexandria Safe-Zone some years after All-Out War, serving as one of a few new points of view into the story’s status quo following the significant time jump.
Fogler and Matsuura’s castings follows news of Tony nominee Lauren Ridloff joining the cast as Connie, the first main character who is deaf in The Walking Dead. In the comics, Connie makes her first appearance alongside Yumiko and their group. If the TV series sticks to the comic book script, a few other key castings could emerge from that group, including a woman named Magna, who is Yumiko’s girlfriend. It’s unclear if all three new faces are recurring or for larger more permanent roles. They join new season-nine series regulars Avi Nash (as Siddiq) and Callam McAuliffe (as Alden).
The three new actors arrive on the Walking Dead scene in the midst of a creative sea change. Not only is there a new showrunner in town in the form of longtime Walking Dead writer and producer Angela Kang’s promotion, but the face of the franchise — Lincoln’s Rick Grimes — is set to depart in the season ahead. Comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman finally opened up about Lincoln’s departure, without spilling the details on what it will entail: “I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, but anybody who has been a fan of his journey, who loves Rick Grimes, who loves the world of The Walking Dead, you’re going to want to see what we do.”
In addition to Lincoln, season nine will see the departure of another series regular: Lauren Cohan, who has played Maggie since season two, and has since been cast in a series regular role on ABC’s forthcoming thriller Whiskey Cavalier. In that regard, Kang has been more open about plans for Cohan’s exit, while not weighing in on the buzz about Lincoln.
“With Lauren, she has said that she would like to come back to the show and we would love to have her back; we think there’s more story with Maggie to tell,” Kang previously told THR. “We already have some plans brewing that I think are pretty cool.”
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