The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Q&A — Danai Gurira & Andrew Lincoln on the Enduring Power of Love

In The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live fans are reunited with Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as they once again embody their beloved TWD characters Rick and Michonne, and their epic love story continues. We had a chance to speak with the pair ahead of the premiere and touched on what may surprise fans about the highly anticipated series and what’s truly at the heart of this new story.

Q: When you both started working with Scott Gimple on the series, were there specific themes that you hoped to explore? One that really sticks out for me is the idea that hope can truly be an infinite resource that propels you through the darkest of times.
Danai Gurira: That was definitely at the core of the entire premise of Michonne's journey. From her leaving the mothership—she left because the hope she had that he was still out there had been reinforced with some actual evidence. She’d always had that feeling inside of her, but she had to push through that feeling because she had no leads, she had no evidence. She just held him close in various ways, but she had to shift her focus and take care of those right in front of her, so she couldn't do that anymore. The hope never died, but then the hope was brought back in full force when she found evidence that he was still out there with his boots and the phone.
Going into this next stage, the drive for her is based on her daughter saying, "You've got to go find him. Go find my dad." She's functioning on her hope and her child's hope, and also her son's hope that he could finally meet his father. That in and of itself is driving her. The core of it for us was to create a story that was about the enduring and overcoming power of love.
I think in terms of character arcs. Themes come along, but I really think about what’s driving things forward. How do we accomplish what we're proposing? And what we're proposing [with The Ones Who Live] is a love story. We're proposing that the audiences tune back in for love, because the love between these two people can't just die. They're not going to say, "I'll just date someone else now." That's just not who Michonne and Rick are. And so, the proposal is this is an epic love story that's going to overcome so much, that these two people reconnect despite all these obstacles.
Q: Andy, what did it feel like to get back into character as this new version of Rick after so long? He’s a decidedly different man when we see him again—emotionally closed off to others and so deeply frustrated by his current circumstances. 
Andrew Lincoln: I think, "new version," is exactly it! We wanted to set up a mindset for Rick and a place that the audience hadn't been before with him—and certainly Rick hadn’t been before either. We wanted to dismantle him, I suppose, and get him to a place where he'd failed. Something that in the whole nine seasons that I was involved in the show, we'd never seen.
There'd been trauma, there'd been terrible things, but somehow, he was okay. This time it was about snuffing out that hope in him. How do we do that? Scott, I thought did a very clever balancing act of keeping the fight alive in him. Keeping that Rick DNA that the audience knows. Then, just as that light has gone out, they meet again. The timing was just thrilling!
Like every season that I've returned to do, we try and put Rick in a different place and hopefully tell a different story, but with the same heart, hope, drive and thrills and spills. It was a lot easier than I thought. And I love the sheriff man! He's such a great guy and a great character. I missed him.
Q: The show feels like an expansion of The Walking Dead Universe as opposed to a continuation of The Walking Dead. Building on what we learned about the CRM through World Beyond, it’s going to be exciting to see Michonne and Rick take on the CRM, General Beale and their old frenemy Jadis. They’re venturing into very dark territory here! How did that feel? There’s a familiarity there but this feels… different.
AL: Well, that's great! That was really the intention. I’m a bit of a genre nerd and I love operatic world building and Scott does that so well. I think this was an exciting thing for him because he got to lay all these breadcrumbs in all these other TWD shows and actually gets to deliver some answers in this show. It was great to be a part of and this is the first time I'm a producer, so I had to watch it! I had to make my children watch it first, the first cut. Then, I had to watch it with one eye for five minutes, and then the other eye.
DG: For all the episodes? Or just the first one? [Laughs]
AL: Just the first one. I was just going, "Oh my God" at myself. [Laughs] But the great news was that we've got Terry O'Quinn and we've got Lesley-Ann Brandt—we've got all these wonderful actors. Craig Tate and Matthew Jeffers. This wonderful ensemble of new characters that bring so much heart and a lot of this world building lands on their characters.
Q: It was really fun to see the anticipation grow with fans as we got closer to the series premiere. What do you think will surprise fans the most about the show?
DG: I think the level of conflict that Rick and Michonne get into will be unexpected. They’re going to be dealing with a lot of internal stuff. Wounds are manifesting and causing conflict. And that's a whole other level of intimacy, really. Plus, it’s also a whole other level of, "Oh shit. Are they going to be okay?" We want that. We want people to feel that surprise and concern.
And keep them on their toes a little bit.
DG: Absolutely and keep it real too because every relationship has to have its crisis.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Episodes are available to stream on (with a cable provider login), and the AMC apps for mobile and devices. You can also watch episodes via AMC+ at or through the new AMC+ app available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku plus Samsung and Vizio smart TVs. AMC+ can also be streamed through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ now.