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The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln: 'I stand by everybody telling this story'

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Andrew Lincoln has heard the complaints from some fans about The Walking Dead’s season 7. And he admitted to EW that it was even “painful” for him during filming of the first half of the season. But he tells viewers to have faith and insists that his faith in the writers and producers crafting the story has never wavered. “This season made a lot more sense once we got the last role of film in the can for episode 716,” says Lincoln.

We asked the star about his reaction to any negative fan feedback and he talked about the “brave, bold, and also challenging story that we’re attempting.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You all warned us that the first half of season 7 would be pretty brutal. What do you make of complaints by some that it was too brutal?
ANDREW LINCOLN: [Showrunner Scott M. Gimple] explained it to me in one way, which I found very helpful, which was that rather than just have a very cool exciting buildup to war between between Negan and Rick, he wanted people to want more than that — to really feel that they wanted justice, and then to also acknowledge the cost of what had happened and why they were willing to risk it all again while realizing that they were putting many, many, many lives back in the firing line. I think he really wanted it to feel like the audience, rather than just baying for blood, wanted justice for what had happened. And that, for me, was quite a helpful way of understanding why it had to be so immersive and so painful — certainly for all of us on set and acting in it, but also, I think, for the audience.

You’re pretty good about distancing yourself from all that outside noise and chatter, but when you put your blood, sweat, and tears into this, is it difficult when you hear people complaining about it?
I mean, look, that’s the whole point of when you create something. It opens the discussion, doesn’t it? And ultimately you have your own individual reaction, whatever it may be. And you know, obviously, you don’t want it to be negative, but if you’re endeavoring to make something different and unique and challenging — and hopefully dangerous and new — sometimes it might provoke different reactions from people. And I stand by everybody telling this story, particularly the writers and everybody directing it. I think it’s a very brave, bold, and also challenging story that we’re attempting.

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And you guys have always paid it off. I remember back in season 2 when the search for Sophia was taking seemingly forever, yet then we got to the barn and the payoff was totally worth it.
As I said before, people are absolutely entitled to feeling exactly what they want to feel about the show, and it’s interesting the way that people view it differently now. And I know people want to watch more than one episode a week at a time just because it’s kind of compulsive, the storytelling, and they want to know what happens next. And I think sometimes having to wait is a good thing because you get to recap on other things and view it in a different way. Although I would say that this season made a lot more sense once we got the last role of film in the can for episode 716. The brilliant writers that we have take some risks, and I admire them for it. I admire anybody taking risks.

For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.