Andrew Lincoln has been playing Rick Grimes so well for so long on The Walking Dead that it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Interestingly, however, I doubt that many people in 2010 could’ve predicted that this guy:
Would’ve been the perfect actor to ultimately play this guy:
Believe it or not, however, Andrew Lincoln wasn’t the first choice to play Rick on The Walking Dead.
As most of you may know, The Walking Dead‘s journey through the development process was not an easy one. The original showrunner Frank Darabont had shopped the series around to a number of networks, but no one was interested in a grim serialized drama about a zombie apocalypse where major characters were frequently killed off. NBC, of course, won the award for most baffling reason why they passed on the series, as one executive at that network saw the pilot and said, “This is awesome. I really love this. Does it have to have zombies in it?”
Of course, AMC wasn’t exactly Darabont’s first choice for the series, either. When The Walking Dead was pitched, AMC was basically the home of Mad Men, and that was it. It may not have felt like a natural home for a grim, post-apocalyptic drama.
In fact, Darabont first took the series to HBO, three years before it began airing on AMC. When he brought it to HBO, however, he had someone else in mind to play the nominal lead in the series, Rick Grimes.
Yup. Thomas Jane, who had starred in The Mist, directed by Frank Darabont. Here’s Jane with a Rick Grimes beard.
I could see that.
Unfortunately for Thomas Jane and fortunately for Andrew Lincoln, HBO passed on The Walking Dead and by the time that AMC had picked it up in 2010, Thomas Jane was already committed to another series, Hung.
The rest is history.