Lennie James has admitted that news of The Walking Dead ending “took [him] by surprise” when the announcement was made last month.
The long-running zombie drama will draw to a close in 2022 following an extended 24-episode 11th season, though spin-off Fear the Walking Dead – on which James now stars as Morgan Jones – will continue, with two new spin-off series also in the works.
“The announcement took me by surprise, I can’t say otherwise,” James told RadioTimes.com. “But that moment was always going to happen at some point. It just had to. There’s only so far it can go.”
Though the news might be disappointing for fans, James suggested that having a “long run out” with the extended final season will allow The Walking Dead – a show which he says has “earned its place in television history” – to “say goodbye in the way that [the creative team] would want to”.
“On one level, it’s a hell of a gift, but it’s also what that show deserves,” he insisted. “I mean, it’s been a worldwide monumental behemoth and has redefined television in its wake, really, and I think that having a long lead out is just fair testament to what that show is and what that show will always be.”
Alongside James’s Fear the Walking Dead, a new anthology series Tales of the Walking Dead and a spin-off focusing on the characters of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are also being developed, alongside a series of movies featuring Andrew Lincoln’s former Walking Dead lead Rick Grimes.
Lincoln and James both appeared in the very first episode of The Walking Dead back in 2010 and while they haven’t shared the screen since James left the original show in 2018 – with Lincoln exiting later that same year – James is keen to be reunited with his old co-star.
“Obviously the answer to that question is yes – whether it happens or not is up to the powers-that-be,” he said. “But there’s talk of a Daryl/Carol spin-off and there’s also talk of Tales of the Walking Dead, so there’s possibilities. We’ll just have to wait and see – but to be back on set with Andy, in any shape or form, on any show, would be a day that I would certainly show up to work!”