Why Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln Returned to 'The Walking Dead' Universe (Exclusive)

Gurira and Lincoln star in 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,' which premieres on Feb. 25.

Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln say they both wanted to return to The Walking Dead universe so they could continue telling their characters' epic love story.

Talking with ET's Ash Crossan from Wednesday's premiere of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, the pair -- both cast members from the original AMC series -- said there were many reasons they decided to reprise their characters years after they each left the show. 

"Well, I think what motivated me was the fact that every time I was out and about, people would stop me and say 'When are you coming back? Where have you gone and when are you coming back?'" Lincoln, 50, joked.

The Love Actually actor portrayed Rick Grimes for nearly a decade until leaving the show during season 9. Gurira, 45, who played Michonne Hawthorne, left the series in season 10 after seven seasons with the show. 

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Lincoln told ET that it was the conversations he had with writer Scott M. Gimple about unresolved storylines involving his character and Gurira's that led to the show being put in motion. From there, the Black Panther actress joined the spinoff and became a full-blown writer for the show.

"At that point, when I joined and it became the six episodes that now exist, it was -- you know, we collaborated on it," Gurira said. "And so, yes, Scott's the germinator and then it was also Andy's, you know, development with him [Scott], and then we came along. And we developed this particular format together." 

"And then you wrote it," joked Lincoln. 

"No, no, no. I wrote an episode, an episode," Gurira responded, sharing that her willingness also stemmed from the series' devoted fans who wanted more of "Richonne," the couple name for Rick and Michonne. 

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"There's quite a lot of Richonnes out there," said Lincoln. 

"Oh yeah, I mean look, we love the fans. That's another big reason why we do it. We needed to, you know, accomplish what we proposed. We proposed that these two had this very epic love and that they weren't going to let anything separate them," Gurira said. "And the fact that we all knew as an audience that he was still out there and Michonne left the mothership in search of the very clear clues she had, that hunch she had always had in her heart that he was still out there, we had to accomplish what we proposed." 

Fans who are eager to find out if the mission is accomplished will have to tune in to the new show, which is described by the network as "an epic love story of two characters changed by a changed world."

The series also stars Pollyanna McIntosh, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Terry O’Quinn, Matthew August Jeffers, Craig Tate and Andrew Bachelor. 

You can watch a trailer for the spinoff series in the player below: 

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres Sunday, Feb. 25 on AMC and AMC+. 



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