In the words of Andrew Lincoln himself, “Season 7 sucked for Rick Grimes.”
It was a rough season arc for the lead character of The Walking Dead, watching everything he’s built in the face of a zombie apocalypse start to crumble before him.
At first, Rick let Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) take over the community he’s been cultivating in Alexandria — and in Lincoln’s eyes, Morgan was the new lead of the show, taking up the mantle that he’d carried for the previous six seasons.
It took eight painstaking episodes for Rick to get his shit together and begin to fight this monstrous villain. But even when he tried to do that, things blew up in his face. His season-ending plan didn’t end in total disaster, but his group still lost a key player in Sasha, and found out that the (literal) garbage people they made a pact with had turned on them and aligned with Negan’s Saviors.
So it wasn’t a good time.
But according to Lincoln, that all changes in Season 8. “He’s getting his strut back.”
He says that even though Rick is ready to fight, his goal is peace. But it also seems like getting revenge on Negan is enough to motivate Rick, and it clearly has an effect on Lincoln.
“He had a taste of [peace], then this goddamned Negan guy showed up … I hate Negan,” Lincoln whines, pinching the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes as if he feels real pain just thinking about it. “I love Jeffrey, but I hate Negan.”
Lincoln compares the Rick we saw in last season’s finale to the one in the Season 7 premiere. Though he’s in similar positions in both moments — on his knees with Negan looming over him — his mental state is worlds different. Instead of being afraid and demeaned, Rick is focused, willing to die, and free.
“I’m so happy to be playing that man, and not last season’s Rick,” says Lincoln.
And we’ll be happy to see it, buddy.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 on AMC.