There will be more blood, reveals Andrew Lincoln, the very British actor who nails his impression of a Georgia sheriff heroically hacking and leading his group through the zombie apocalypse that is The Walking Dead. Halfway through the show’s third season, he’s flashing plenty of firepower. So as a precursor to our Speakeasy with TWD’s Michael Rooker next week, we asked this accomplished thespian about firepower, fitness and, keep reading, Keira Knightley.
“The sheer physical nature of the show—fighting, climbing, running, smashing through the Georgia woods in ninety to one-hundred degree heat and humidity, plus fighting off bugs and critters—keeps me fit.”
MADE MAN: How does a theatrically trained Brit prepare to play a modern-day American cowboy?
ANDREW LINCOLN: My dad, brother and I used to watch The Magnificent Seven over and over, and we can quote it verbatim. So that appreciation and understanding of the classic genre helped. I also knew about weapons and I had some riding skills. But when I read the script, I was thinking about Gary Cooper, a law officer, taking on a gang of killers in High Noon, another of my favorite Westerns. And the producers said that’s exactly what they wanted, Gary Cooper taking on the zombie hordes. So, here I am playing this modern day heroic cowboy, and it feels very much like an extraordinary apocalyptic Western.
MM: For a Brit you know a lot about guns, why is that?
AL: Well, because I always liked Westerns, I had an interest in guns. But I learned how to handle weapons when I was doing a British television series called Strike Back, playing a military intelligence guy. In The Walking Dead, my gun is a .357 Magnum Colt Python. Simple and efficient. But I’ve also used a Glock 17. In fact, we have an arsenal of weapons, including various shotguns and rifles. In spite of all this firepower, my right hand man Daryl uses a (Horton Scout) crossbow as his weapon of choice. Walkers and bad guys, we’re coming for you!
MM: What are the advantages of filming in Georgia rather than LA?
AL: We’re on our own in this bubble in the South, and everyone mucks in, there’s no hierarchy, everyone gets their hands dirty to get the job done. And it’s a really good atmosphere for people to enjoy their work and to push themselves. The crew is magnificent. But, we actors all live in fear that we’re going to get offed! And then you have to go to zombie school!
MM: How do you deal with being away from your family for eight months of the year?
AL: As soon as I walk in the door back in England, I cheerfully hop on one leg and pretend to play the flute like Ian Anderson, the founder of Jethro Tull. I’m joking, but I am married to Ian’s daughter, and he’s an extraordinarily talented man. God help my children. They’ve got a zombie slayer for a father and a prog rock genius for a grandfather!
MM: How do you keep in shape to fight off all those marauding walkers?
AL: Luckily, the sheer physical nature of the show—fighting, climbing, running, smashing through the Georgia woods in ninety to one-hundred degree heat and humidity, plus fighting off bugs and critters—keeps me fit. But I’ve actually done a marathon with my mother and I also jog through my adopted neighborhood. It’s about stamina for me, not some exercise in vanity. It’s about being able to do stuff like trans-continental travel and living in two worlds and making it work.
MM: What would you recommend about Atlanta?
AL: I love it there. You get that feel of the Old South nearer to Savannah and Charleston, but Atlanta is very cosmopolitan with a great, cool music scene. Amazing restaurants. It’s become this hub—they call it the Hollywood of the South now. English mates of mine, like Colin Firth who was doing a movie there, we meet up. I’ve become this sort of English attaché, the go-to guy. It’s hilarious. I show them where all the nice restaurants are.
MM: And at home, what do you recommend to cook in a pinch?
AL: I’m in no way a chef, but I can whip up some pasta dishes when friends are visiting. The great thing about Italian cuisine is that it’s so simple. A great Carbonara basically has five ingredients. I can do a pretty good pasta Bolognese. And I’ve found that the love somebody brings to making even a simple dish is what makes the taste.
MM: Last but not least, how was it being obsessed with Keira Knightley in Love Actually?
AL: It wasn’t a tremendously difficult job… actually. She’s one of the world’s most beautiful women. Who wouldn’t want to work with her, no matter what scenes you have? When I read the script, that scene with my character flashing the cards outside her doorway read as a sort of classic cinematic moment, and the scene has stayed with people.