It's the boy. It has to be the boy. [Carl] and Lori were the driving force that got him out of the hospital and drove him through meeting Morgan and eventually being reunited with them. That was one of the great attractions of playing this part, the fact that he wasn't an outsider, he was a cop, he's an ordinary guy. He's just your average Joe. But he was a father, and a husband in a problematic marriage. All of these things I loved, because I thought, "Yes, that's grounded. That's authentic." I do believe that people do extraordinary things, superhuman things in those situations. You hear about mothers moving cars to save babies, extraordinary feats. Almost on a primal level, your instinct to protect your loved ones can put you in a place that you would never imagine going.
It's funny, because I'm constantly … you know when you get something in your head and you start tuning into something? I'm a magpie when I do a job, I just collect things, and everything seems to inform the job. I start reading about survivors or heroes … my antennae are very much aware, they pick it all up. I was reading a book about Ernest Shackleton, an extraordinary English adventurer at the turn of the century. Last century, not this century. He tried to go to the Antarctic three times to do three different challenges, and he failed on every one. But he kept 27 men alive on an iceberg for two and a half years.
It's the greatest story of survival I've ever read. It's mind blowing. You just keep … just Google it and read what he achieved. All of those people, he kept everyone that was on the trip alive. No one died, and it was astonishing. All the other 26 men, obviously, just said he's the greatest leader. He was lorded … [People] asked him, they said, "How did you do this extraordinary thing? How did you do it?" He said, "It was the men." He had to do it for the other guys. If he'd been alone, he wouldn't have made it. It's that simple with Rick. He's just one of those incredible people that other people just stand behind. The thing I love about him is the fact that he's right. He's one of these people who is certain, and he makes his decision. It may be a bad decision. It may be a morally corrupt decision, but he stands by it. There's something incredibly powerful about that, and incredibly dangerous about it. I think that he's also a moral guy, but he recognizes the danger in leadership in this new world. He sort of understands the possibly intoxicating effect that power has on leadership. I just think he's a complicated man and rightly so. He's Job, he's been tested beyond all tests. He keeps coming back. He's at his lowest with the death of Lori. But I think Morgan was a pivotal moment in him, recognizing that if he continues isolating himself he will turn into that, into Morgan.
Inside the making of "Clear":
That episode, "Clear," was just brilliant. Can you pick one of the episodes from this season as your favorite?
Yeah, that one, I read it, I loved it. I was thrilled that they decided to almost complete the circle somewhat with the Morgan story. That's always the thing when I watch long running TV shows that capture you and ask the audience to really invest in the characters. There's something so lovely about planting something in the pilot and then going somewhere to resolve the story three years later. It almost rewards the audience. It certainly rewards me as an actor. And there's something amazing about working with an actor that you haven't seen for three years, and the last time you saw them [your character] was a completely different man.
I also thought that "Prey" was a completely different episode, and it said a lot of things very quietly and very subtly. I'm really excited about Season 4 because of this. Because I think that we have the collective weight of three years of people knowing these characters. You don't have to do what a lot of movies have to do, which is that they have to explain who these people are in the first hour of the movie and then tell a story for the next hour and then resolve it in the last half an hour. People come with three years, 30 odd episodes, 30 odd hours of living with these people. … The most exciting thing is when you can just drop an episode like ["Clear"] in, or push it in a different direction, or completely pare down the storytelling and just make it about a boy going to find a photo of his mother to show his sister who doesn't have a mother anymore. That's breathtaking.
That's the thing that when people go, "Oh, zombies. That's a zombie show." I'm thinking, it's really not about zombies. (Laughing) But, of course, it is, and that's the cool stuff that we get to do, the brilliant stuff. We wouldn't be able to tell such grand things or such simple stories without the cool stuff and the exciting and the thrilling stuff. But certainly, yeah, that was an episode that I adored.
Check back for part two of our chat with Andrew Lincoln next week, when he discusses his cast mates, "The Walking Dead" crew, and what it's like to film outside Hollywood; the difficulty of bidding adieu to cast members and friends; and his hopes for the show's future, including his plea to the producers and writers: "Let me live long. Please!"
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC, and the Season 3 finale airs on March 31.