EMMYS Q&A: Andrew Lincoln

Michael Ausiello is Editor-in-Chief of TVLine.

If there were an Emmy category for rawness, Andrew Lincoln wouldn’t just be under consideration for a nomination, he’d be the frontrunner for the win. The work the actor did on AMC’s The Walking Dead this past season as grieving Sheriff Rick Grimes felt so real that, at times, it was difficult to watch. (He didn’t even watch himself!) Here, the 39-year-old Englishman opens up about how he approached his widowed character’s breakdown and whether he thinks Emmy voters will be able to overcome their genre bias to give him and his hit cable series a chance.

AwardsLine: It was such an intense season for you. How did you recover and wind down after playing all of that rage and desolation?
Andrew Lincoln: It is a brutal and dark place you have to inhabit, but I’m very good at disengaging. And there’s no better way to unplug than having children. Changing diapers is one of the most leveling things that has ever happened to me. Realizing that my children are the center of the universe and not me is probably one of the greatest ways to acclimatize.

AwardsLine: Your former leading lady, Sarah Wayne Callies (who plays Lori, his TV wife), told me last fall, “When Andrew goes down the rabbit hole, he goes all the way down.” What did she mean exactly?
Lincoln: I love acting. I just love it. It’s in my bones. I remember when I was a kid, I watched an interview with Dennis Hopper talking about Jimmy Dean on the set of Rebel Without A Cause. Jimmy said to him, “If you’ve got to cry in a scene, you’ve got to cry. Make it real.” And that’s all that I believe in.

AwardsLine: Sarah also mentioned that you didn’t want her on the set the day you shot the big scene where Rick learns Lori died. Why?
Lincoln: Because she (had already been killed off). A lot of it is about feeling relaxed enough to make mistakes, or to look like a fool, or to dare to go to a place that I wouldn’t necessarily go to. Maybe I was a bit self-conscious with Sarah being there and not wanting to turn that scene into a spectator’s sport. I admire her so much as an actress, and I was so upset about losing her as (a costar) that I just wanted to do it justice—do her justice.

AwardsLine: How did you gear up mentally for that scene?
Lincoln: I just took myself away for a couple of hours while they were setting up and listened to a song and got into a place that wasn’t very happy.

AwardsLine: What song were you listening to?
Lincoln: It was Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright’s “Set the Fire to the Third Bar.” Don’t listen to it. You might end up collapsing. (Laughs.)

AwardsLine: Your TV son Chandler Riggs (Carl) played a big role in that scene. He essentially telegraphs the news to Rick about Lori’s death. What was it like playing a scene like that with, essentially, a child?
Lincoln: Chandler Riggs is just the most intuitive, wise boy; he’s a wonderful actor. And as a father, as a human being, you just see that. (Rick getting) confirmation from (Carl that Lori died) broke me. I spoke to the director and said, “I think it’s vital that this guy that’s been so stoic and the linchpin of this group needs to drop his gun. And you need to see him fall to the ground. I think you need to see him taken down by this news.” This is a man whose instincts to survive have been driven primarily by two people—and one of those people is dead. It’s like taking his balance away.

AwardsLine: Why do you think the Emmys have been slow to embrace the show?
Lincoln: I don’t really think about it too much, in all honesty. It was (former exec producer) Frank (Darabont) and everybody at AMC’s intention to elevate the genre. As soon as I mention the word “genre,” people make an (assumption), don’t they? It never occurred to me that this would be a genre show. I think this is a family drama set in Hell. That’s what I see it as. It just so happens that there are zombies. I absolutely understand that this isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but all I would urge people to do is give it a chance. There’s some incredibly bold storytelling.

AwardsLine: Should you find yourself with a nomination, is there an episode you are personally proud of?
Lincoln: You’d have to tell me. I don’t actually watch the show.

AwardsLine: Really? You didn’t even watch your big breakdown scene?
Lincoln: No. I kind of know what happened—I was sort of in it. (Laughs.) I kind of thought, you know, when I was on my knees wailing, “Well, I left everything on the ballpark here.”

  1. His ‘acting’ last season was some of the most embarrassing I’ve seen in ages. When he found out his wife was dead – what was that? An Emmy for most convincing southern accent by a Brit, maybe.

    1. Agreed. One could criticize Darabont for indulgence, but I thought he got MUCH BETTER performances from the main cast. Since then, Lincoln has been trying to out-D’Onofrio D’Onofrio, throwing in a bucnh of weird physical and vocal mannerisms that have nothing to do with the character or situation and EVERYTHING to do with Lincoln wanting to show that HE IS ACTINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. I liked his previous work on British TV (as well as his watchable turn in the terrible French rom-com ‘Heartbreaker’) but I have NO IDEA what he is doing on ‘The Walking Dead’.

    2. When you have haters, you know you’re doing something right. Great job this season, Mr. Lincoln.

    3. Agreed. If he was consistent I could buy it but he wavers wildly from plausible believability and the absurd.

    4. Are you kidding me?!? This was one of the most realistic and heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen! It felt so real and not rehearsed or anything like some other actors do. Emmy-worthy!!

  2. Andrew – thanks for bringing up the late Dennis Hopper in your interview…the man lived in the moment.

  3. Emmys and Walking Dead should not be in the same sentence. Please. Script is so bad in Walking Dead. It always was. They turned cool Shane into some crazy idiot, they give that Carl such bad story-lines that people hate him, they destroyed Andrea as character, they kept that super villain Governor for another season when everyone wanted him to be gone… And even turned Sheriff Rick in this season to annoying idiot. I would really not care of Rick would die. So awful he was.

    Everything is bad in Walking Dead except visuals and zombies. But even zombies this season were completely harmless, you could probably kill them even with the book or pillow. And they only showed up when script needed some tension.

    Walking Dead does not deserve to even be mentioned with the word Emmy.

  4. Looks like someone is trolling. Do us all a favor and just quit watching. Sounds like your jealous. Still waiting tables huh. That’s to bad!

  5. Do you think that rick will kill more people in season 4 and is the Governor still a Threat

  6. I watched the last half of last season all in two sittings and I was devastated by it. I felt for the entire cast and felt like I was there sharing their situation. It certainly made up for last season that spent too much time on the farm. If there is any criticism, it would be on the writers. I can’t believe that someone who had such a serious break with reality (seeing his dead wife), could make such a miraculous comeback. It seems like it would have taken some serious drugs and years of counselling to come back from. It did seem like he should have been killed either by the zombies or his own people. But he did a good job.

  7. The acting is NOT the reason people watch this show. If it was it wouldn’t be a hit. Lincoln is pretty bad when he has to do anything but scowl.

  8. Honestly, I think he over acts his scenes. I agree with the persons who say that Emmys and this show should not be in the same line. unless you talk about special effects. But I think Once upon a time is better at that.

  9. The acting IS EXACTLY why I watch this show. I hate zombie stuff, but this is no longer a zombie show, just as Lincoln stated. The character development is better than anything I’ve seen on television. And while there are some ‘what the h-ll were they thinking?’ Moments, overall the writing on this show is fantastic. Some of the things that are said, and how these actors (most of them) seek out their own characters, is just poetry to me. IM jealous of what these actors get to play with every day in this show. Kudos!!

  10. I love watching this show. I’m glad there is a show that can still scare and frustrate me at the same time. So tired of all those CSI and police/detective/talking too much shows. Great cast and writers.

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