June 26, 2018, was Andrew Lincoln’s last day of filming on The Walking Dead TV series. He will now be moving over to star in a trilogy of Rick Grimes movies for AMC. It was a day full of emotion as the man who has been No. 1 on the call sheet since the very start bid farewell to the cast and crew, and Entertainment Weekly was fortunate enough to be there and take it all in.
I wrote about a few of the most incredible moments from Lincoln’s last day already, and you can read about those here, but there were plenty of other things that went down that day on set. Here are some odds and ends from what I saw, including Lincoln destroying a set, a big scene that never made it into the episode, and some original Walking Dead souvenirs. (You can also read what Lincoln had to say about his final episode.)
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “What Comes After” episode of The Walking Dead.
• “Alright! Let’s go! Let’s f—ing see it!” Far from somber, Lincoln stormed the outdoor set at 7:54 a.m. where Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, and Melissa McBride were filming the big reaction scene where Michonne screams upon watching Rick blow up the bridge. The pep talk was welcome for Gurira, who had to endure this emotionally draining moment over and over again for take after take. She often could be found pacing right before a take with her earbuds in, screaming and crying even before director Greg Nicotero callad “Action!” (Fun fact: This scene was filmed a few feet away from the cabin seen earlier in the episode where Rick battled zombies and had his vision of Shane. An even more fun fact: It’s not accidental that this cabin resembled the one from The Evil Dead. Nicotero worked on Evil Dead 2 and if you look closely, you could see a Necronomicon on the cabin’s table)
• The majority of Lincoln’s day was filming inside in Raleigh Studios on Soundstage 2. The entire studio was one huge blue screen — blue on the floors, and a giant blue screen over the walls. In the studio with Lincoln was a white horse and a blue-and-white Kings Country, Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy police car.
• Lord, does Andrew Lincoln love to sing. Music has always helped put Lincoln in the right mood and frame of mind for a big scene and his last day had a lot of big scenes. “In my arms…oooooooh, in my arms,” he sang out while listening to his iPhone waiting for a take. Another time, it was just “You leave my life! I’m better off dead.” That’s the thing about Lincoln: He doesn’t exactly sing every line. He just sort of belts out a few words here or there. “It’s like a game of Name That Tune,” he tells me. Today, Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s” is on his playlist, as are plenty of other songs I am unable to pick out by his sporadic crooning. At one point, he stands in the middle of the room clapping the Car Wash theme to no one in particular. Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap-clap-clap. I have no idea what that was about.
• As already documented, Lincoln never sits still in between takes either. He’s always either pacing, squatting, running in place, hitting his hand or head, rolling around — you name it. Once, back in season 6, he ran in between every take to appear sufficiently exhausted for a scene in which he was being chased by walkers. (He must have run 10 miles that day.) On this day, he spends a lot of time doubled over with his face pressed against the floor, getting into the zone before his last scenes ever on the show.
• Of course there are handlers on set whenever an animal is present, but Lincoln at this point is an expert on horseback. While filming an interior scene with the horse he was able to direct it back behind a partition before each take without any assistance. Ever the gentleman, Lincoln took time to shake hands and thank the handlers, even posing for a photo with them.
• In the big scene in which Rick imagines walking through that pile of bodies from which Sasha stands up, there was a mix of current cast members and 100 extras as well as body doubles and actual dummies of former characters. It looked like a post-apocalyptic game of Twister. Director Greg Nicotero had the job of placing them. “JDM, you’re over here,” pointed Nicotero to Jeffrey Dean Morgan. “Maggie and Rosita over here,” said the director to Lauren Cohan and Christian Serratos while motioning to their spots.
There were body doubles for Tyreese, Sophia, Dale, Beth, and Sasha [due to scheduling conflicts, Sonequa Martin-Green would shoot her scene at a different time], and full-size dummies for Carl, Shane, Hershel, Glenn, Abraham, and one of what kinda looked kind of like Nicotero himself. After all the real and fake bodies were placed, the director had to make sure everything was right. “This guy in the beige shirt needs blood,” instructed Nicotero as he looked over the extras. “This woman needs blood on her hip.” Once everyone was placed and ready for filming, King Ezekiel had a simple request. “If anyone’s holding a fart,” bellowed Khary Payton. “Keep holding it.”
• You never saw it in the final episode, but as it was originally filmed, Sasha was not the only one to rise up and speak to Rick in this scene. Negan also had some choice words for his former nemesis. “Now that I’m gone — the widow aced my s—,” Negan said while launching into a speech with blood on his forehead about how Rick had messed everything up. (Clearly in this vision, Rick believed Maggie followed through on her plan to kill Negan). Showrunner Angela Kang explained to us why this scene was ultimately cut from the episode.
Not only that, but other bodies from the pile —like Daryl, Carol, Maggie, and Michonne — rose up slowly almost like zombies as well during this scene in what was originally a more harrowing vision for Rick in seeing what had happened to the people he might be leaving behind.
• It was during this scene while walking through the bodies where Lincoln had a remarkable moment of using the emotion of his departure to propel him through a take. Go read about it at the top of this article. It’s worth it.
• What happened at lunch (The Final Supper, if you will) is also at the link above at the end of the article. It was a pretty cool moment as Lincoln — who was sitting at a table with Gurira, McBride, Morgan, Cohan, Serratos, Josh McDermitt, Norman Reedus, and Callan McAuliffe — gave a speech to the cast and crew. Make sure to check it out.
• You never know who is going to show up on the set of The Walking Dead. Today, it was Tony nominee Lauren Ridloff (Children of a Lesser God), who would be starting on the show soon as Connie. Ridloff was getting the lay of the land on set and at 4:15 p.m. was able to meet Lincoln before he signed off from the series. (He told her he would hug her but was too bloody and didn’t want to mess up her clothes.)
• Sometimes it’s the little things. In a nice touch, on set medic Tasha Wdowin handed out toy Deputy Sheriff badges to the cast and crew as a tribute to the departing Lincoln. Here’s mine:
• Funny moment late in the day when Norman Reedus looked in the monitor at a shot of Lincoln. “The weirdest thing is, he looks so much older now,” laughed Reedus. Lincoln later got his revenge by reminding Reedus of the $3,200 the man who plays Daryl owed him in backgammon losses. While Lincoln was happy and ready to transition to leaving the show, he also was sad to not to be a part of what new showrunner Angela Kang had in store moving forward. “This is so weird,” Lincoln told me during a break in filming. “It is f—ing bittersweet.”
• All throughout the day, there were special one-on-one moments between Lincoln and castmates. At one point, Lincoln and Morgan had a long embrace before smiling and laughing at nothing in particular. Later, while Lincoln was sitting down cross-legged on the floor after a particularly emotional take, Reedus came over, leaned down, and hugged him before whispering something in his ear. But perhaps the most telling moment was when Gurira approached her on-screen love interest during a break in filming. As the two hugged, Lincoln pressed his lips on Gurira’s forehead and left them there, almost afraid for the kiss — and the moment and the day itself — to end.
• After finishing up on the horse and through the pile of dead bodies, Lincoln moved soundstages over to his final scenes in the hospital. His first scene there involved him recreating his famous walk down the hospital hallway to the “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE” doors, only now the word DON’T was crossed out and it read “DEAD OUTSIDE.” In the middle of one take, Lincoln stopped himself. “That feels f—ing fake,” he barked, clearly unhappy with his performance.
A few minutes later, he did the scene again, only this time much faster while pulling on wires hanging from the ceiling. And then the roof caved. In the ultimate display of on-camera intensity Lincoln had literally — and accidentally — pulled the roof down on top of himself. That led to a medical check from Wdowin and set work to put everything back together. Before shooting the next take, director Nicotero joked, “Let’s do the floor this time. Cue the trap door!”
• Lincoln’s last scene was where the apocalypse all started for Rick Grimes, in his hospital room. And that room in season 9 had many of the original props from the first ever episode, including the original vase, the original wrist band, and the original letter from Carl. In case you were wondering what that card from Carl said, it had “Get well Daddy” written on the front, and inside it read, “Dear Daddy. We miss you. Get well soon and come home! I love you, Carl.”
Other cards included one from Rick’s mother which read, “Feel better, Rick. –Mom”, and a message from the Gein Family: “You are the best cop! I hope you feel better.”
• “Are we rolling this entire scene,” asked Lincoln before shooting the scene where he looks over pilot episode Rick in the hospital bed.
“Yes,” replied Nicotero.
“Can I talk to myself?”
And that’s exactly what Lincoln proceeded to do: “Wake up. It’s time to go. Wake up. Yeah, wake up, asshole. Wake up.” After Nicotero called cut, applause broke out from the cast who had all returned to watch the final scene on monitors.
• Lincoln’s final take involved him playing hospital bed Rick. As he was lying down in the bed, Reedus tickled Lincoln’s feet off camera. The cast and crew then had a long goodbye in which everyone wore hospital gowns (to match Rick’s) while Lincoln — who asked everyone to put their phones away to preserve the intimacy of the moment — said his final farewell. And that — as they say in the business, ladies and gentlemen — was a series wrap on Andrew Lincoln.
Also make sure to check out our episode Q&As with Andrew Lincoln, showrunner Angela Kang, and chief content officer Scott M. Gimple. And for more Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
- Andrew Lincoln to return for The Walking Dead movies
- Andrew Lincoln on Rick’s final episode and what comes next
- The Walking Dead showrunner on that time jump shocker and Rick’s goodbye
- Goodbye, Andy! Walking Dead actors past and present write tributes to Andrew Lincoln
- Norman Reedus shares secrets from Andrew Lincoln’s last day on The Walking Dead