Rick Grimes' journey on The Walking Dead is far from over.
Headed by executive producer Scott Gimple, Andrew Lincoln has inked a multi-year deal with AMC to star in multiple movies which will expand The Walking Dead universe. The first film is set to begin production in early 2019.
As per the network's press release: "In Lincoln's final appearance on the hit series The Walking Dead, the character of Rick Grimes is mortally wounded and last seen being flown away by helicopter to an unknown destination. The first film will explore the story of where Rick is taken and what he faces in a new corner of the zombie apocalypse."
"We have a lot on the horizon - starting with a new epic featuring one of the greatest leading actors in television history and one of the best people I've ever met," said Gimple.
"These films are going to be big evolutions of what we've been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features. We're starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show's past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that's captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead."
As to how viewers should interpret the final moments of Rick's last episode, co-showrunner Angela Kang said:
"We knew that he needed to fly off in a helicopter that was connected to Jadis and these helicopter people," Kang told EW.
"I do know a bit about what that mythology is. I can’t really talk about it, but there is a very interesting story about these people who clearly have certain resources. They’re flying around helicopters in a time when there’s a lot of scarcity of other things. They deal in human trafficking. They have a code for people that they take in, A’s or B’s. It seems that the people who are marked A’s, such as Gabriel and Rick, are supposed to get some sort of a zombie bite applied to them perhaps."
With Lincoln's departure, exec producer Greg Nicotero assured fans that Rick's absence will not affect the quality of the series.
“The thing I can really, honestly say with 100 percent confidence is the show will not suffer because of the loss of Rick Grimes,” Nicotero said.
“He’s a great character, he’s an amazing actor, but I just I feel that as this show evolves, I just really don’t want people to feel that this departure signals the end of the show, because we have a tremendous amount of story to tell.”
Kang answers episode 9.05's burning questions below:
On that time jump featuring an older Judith:
"We’re saying that this is a six-year time-jump, so Judith, when we start the season she’s about four, four-and-a-half years old, and we’ve now jumped to her being a 10-year-old just like Carl was in the comic books and when the series started."
On Lauren Cohan's final episode and whether it will be addressed:
"This was her last screen appearance for this season but we very much have more stories we want to tell for Maggie, there’s some stuff that we’re trying to hopefully make work out, so at this point it’s for the lawyers to schedule things, but she’s wonderful and we’re very, very hopeful that we’ll be able to have more story for her soon."
"There’s definitely a story point to the fact that Maggie is gone, we know what the backstory is and there’s pieces of it that are dribbled out. We have a very clear idea of what she’s off doing and what’s going on, but that’s part of the backstory of the story we’ll be telling going forward."
How Rick's absence will affect Michonne and co.:
"A huge part of the story going forward is just the ripple effect that this presumed death has had on these communities, and a part of why we didn’t stay right in the same timeline is because a lot of times I think - and we’ve explored this a lot on the show - in the immediate aftermath of someone’s death, people are just stunned and Rick would rage or people would be lost, and part of the story we wanted to tell is, what is the effect that they have on people for a long time going forward?"
"I think that Rick’s ideals and his ideas, they’re not forgotten and yet there are ways in which our characters have drifted from certain things and you feel the momentousness of that loss and you see how people have changed as a result and you see the ways in which people like Daryl and Michonne in some ways can’t even let go of what’s happened. That’s a big part of the story and we start telling that story as soon as the next episode, and I think there’s some really interesting emotional work that Danai and Norman are doing, just really beautiful performance work that I’m excited for people to see."
Additionally, below the Walking Dead newcomers seen on the time jump preview their respective characters:
Nadia Hilker (100) on Magna:
"I would want Magna to like me and probably try to impress her with no success. She’s an unpredictable animal — dangerous but also caring. No one should ever feel too comfortable around her, nor believe they figured her out. She loves her people and would, without a doubt, do anything for her group. Yumiko brings more a motherly type of energy to the group and Magna more fatherly."
Eleanor Matsuura on Yumiko:
"Yumiko is a fighter and a protector, but she’s thoughtful and knows how to keep a level head. She is fiercely loyal to her girlfriend Magna and the rest of her group whom she considers family. We’ve been surviving on the road together for a long time and I would do anything for them in order to keep them safe, including putting myself on the firing line and breaking the rules once in a while."
Dan Folger (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them) on Luke:
"Luke is part of Magna’s tight knit motley family of survivors. They all probably wouldn’t make it out of the proverbial lifeboat alive without each other. He’s more on the artist’s spectrum of personality — preaching the love of music as a necessity to maintain humanity during chaotic times."
Lauren Ridloff on Connie:
"Connie is a survivor. She’s deaf. She uses sign language and other methods to communicate, but because this is a wild frontier, she uses her inability to engage in small talk as a strength. Her deafness is an advantage — she is the one who stays on guard. She is her group’s eyes. But as Connie’s story unfolds, we see how independent and intelligent she is, partly from who she was before the apocalypse and who she connects with in season 9."
Angel Theory on Kelly:
"The meaning of the name Kelly is warrior. But she is also compassionate, protective, a fighter, quick on her feet, stubborn at times, but knows when to listen — especially when it comes to her big sister’s opinion. In the group, she’s a bridge between the hearing and deaf. Kelly is hard-of-hearing, but is able to act as an interpreter while still kicking ass. Kelly is her sister Connie’s keeper, making sure she always in the loop. I relate to Kelly in so many ways. I feel that she brings balance to the group. She doesn’t always fit in because the youngest isn’t listened to all the time — especially when most of the words she says are not her own, and Connie tries to make all of the big decisions for Kelly’s safety. She is a force, I just don’t think she knows it yet."
Cast inks new contract deal with AMC
Cast members Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride have signed on multi-year franchise deals with AMC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fellow original cast member Danai Gurira, is still in negotiations for a similar deal.
According to the report, sources say the new contract deals will cover 3 years of the TWD franchise.
An all new Walking Dead airs next Sunday on AMC.
Head over to The Walking Dead Spoilers page for the latest news.