Goodbye, Rick Grimes. Following season 9, Andrew Lincoln will leave The Walking Dead, multiple sources confirm to Us Weekly. The actor, 44, is only set to appear in six episodes of the ninth season.
“Andrew is leaving because he’s had enough of it and wants to focus his energy on movies,” an insider close to Lincoln tells Us. Additionally, a source tells Us exclusively that Lincoln’s costar, Norman Reedus, negotiated a $20 million paycheck to stay on.
Following the season 8 finale, Lincoln opened up about what’s next for Rick Grimes after taking down Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
“I think there is always going to be a sense of he’s lost all of the most important parts of himself, and yet he has the legacy and gift that Carl gave him that is going to fuel his ambitions for the future,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s got a renewed purpose because of this and because of his son. So it’s absolutely a new man. This is the man who couldn’t see what Deanna saw about the future and still couldn’t see it for a long, long time even throughout all of this and the battle he was hell-bent on vengeance.”
He added: “And now you will meet and find a man — depending on how much time after the events that we just witnessed — that has changed, radically, in ideas and purpose.”
This isn’t the only change coming to the show – Lauren Cohan, who portrays Maggie Rhee, will only appear in six of the first eight episodes, Deadline reported. She also booked the lead in ABC’s action-drama Whiskey Cavalier, opposite Scott Foley, so she will be splitting her time between Los Angeles and Atlanta.
She confirmed she’d be back on the AMC drama in April, telling EW, “I’m going back. There’s a lot more Maggie story to tell … You know, we’re not allowed to tell you anything, but it’s good.”
The Walking Dead will return to AMC Sundays in the fall.
AMC did not immediately respond to Us Weekly’s request for comment. Collider was the first to report Lincoln’s departure.