'The Walking Dead': Andrew Lincoln talks Rick's 'reckless' and 'ruthless' new direction

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andrew-lincoln-rick-grimes-walking-dead-season-3-seed-amc.jpgLast night on "The Walking Dead," viewers saw just how much Rick Grimes has changed in the time that passed between Season 2 and Season 3.

Now that he's successfully led the group in securing the prison as a base, he's willing to do anything necessary to protect their new home. So when the gang ran into some prisoners who had been trapped inside, Rick wasted no time in taking out anyone he saw as a threat (brutally murdering the most dominant of the prisoners, and ensuring the death of another by locking him outside in a courtyard full of walkers).

We already asked showrunner Glen Mazzara to weigh in on the new, darker, Rick. And today Andrew Lincoln joined a conference call with reporters to speak about the season so far.

Here are some of the highlights of what he said:

On the status of Rick's "humanity"...
"I think [Rick's] humanity is pretty intact but I think his ruthlessness or his decision making has very much moved into the Shane point of view ... [Rick] is the most isolated within his group and in his relationship with everybody in the group, especially his wife. I don't think he's the most stable. I wanted to play almost a Pavlovian reaction to [the prisoners]. Certainly in Season 1 and Season 2, I don't think he would've been so quick to make that judgment call.

"That's one of the joys of playing Rick. Moral ambiguity in the show is not the interesting part for me as an actor. In any other situation that wasn't hell, you wouldn't make these judgment calls, you wouldn't be pushed into this corner. But the thing that dignifies it and helps him justify the decision is that he always has the group's safety as a priority. It is a selfless act even though it's incredibly brutal. But as for his humanity, certainly throughout this season it diminishes and diminishes."

On the potentially reckless decision to chase down the prisoner who ran...
"I think [Rick] is behaving in an incredibly irrational and reckless way. I wanted that to be the case. I wanted him to feel almost like a serial killer running after his prey, like 'American Psycho.' Certainly over the course of the season people start to doubt many things in Rick. His decision making as a leader is very much called into question. I wanted it to be born out of fury and rage at protecting the group, a primal pride that's a strength and a weakness as well."

On whether there's any hope for Rick and Lori...
"I do think the major focus in his life now that he's succeeded in securing the prison is his relationship. I do think the end of episode 2 -- that's the first time they've touched each other in eight months, that's what we played. It's a tiny increment of a movement but it is in the right direction. I do think, for the time being, that's the largest obstacle he has to hurdle. Other problems may occur... Sarah [Wayne Callies, who plays Lori] and I have always [played] that these people, they love each other at a cellular level. They've been sweethearts, they're each other's first and last love. Now that they've found a place that potentially could be the citadel where they can start over for the future... for his wife, for everybody else, for the baby, they have to heal."

On possible similarities between Rick and The Governor...
"Perhaps The Governor is an evolution of Rick or a mirror to Rick a little bit further down the line. I always think the thing with Rick is that every death costs. Every death changes him which is one of the great things about playing him. I think The Governor has maybe made peace with that, he doesn't carry the responsibility and the guilt so much as Rick, so maybe that's where they'd diverge."

On what happened to the characters in the unexplored time between Season 2 and Season 3...
"Sarah and I spoke at length, and also Chandler [Riggs, who plays Carl]. Everybody came around to my house, we had dinner and we just talked out what had happened so we're all on the same page. I was very keen to set up the ritual [the group] worked out in intervening months: The convoy stops. Daryl chooses a place that's safe. I get out and take a few steps. My son joins me because he's the youngest, he has the best ears and the best eyesight and he starts to count because 15 minutes is what we've got. [Beth] is the second youngest, so she goes to the back because she's got the best eyes and ears. I just wanted little things like that that [the group] developed over time. As an actor it's my job to fill in the gaps."

On Rick's relationship with Daryl...
"Norman [Reedus] is an incredibly instinctive actor. I always say he went to cool school, everything he does is intrinsically cool. He's also a very fluid actor. I wanted every time you saw them there was a common understanding. Everything is unspoken, he's the wingman, Rick is smart enough to realize that he's probably the strongest warrior in the group at the moment. They're both men who aren't particularly good at articulating their interiors. Shane and Rick were brothers who knew each other and had history, these guys don't, but there's an incredible respect between them. Out of everyone else I think Daryl understands the most the incredible responsibility Rick carries in the group."

On Michonne...
"Michonne is extraordinary. I've seen a sequence [from a later episode] once it's been edited with their magic work in post. This samurai sword wielding woman taking out zombies... I've never seen anything like it. This world we inhabit is wild and it's kind of crazy but somehow it works."
Photo/Video credit: AMC