As The Walking Dead nears its final farewell for actor Andrew Lincoln and his longtime leading man Rick Grimes, few fans of the show will feel the loss as deeply as Lincoln’s co-star Norman Reedus. Reedus, who plays Rick’s right-hand man Daryl Dixon on the show, has forged a brotherly bond with Lincoln over the nine seasons of TV — which means losing his zombie-fighting partner was always going to be a heavy blow.
Speaking to EW, Reedus explained what went down on Lincoln’s final day of shooting and what it’s like going back to work without him. Apparently, it was a gory day. “In my trailer right now, one of the chairs in there is covered in blood and it’s from Andy Lincoln’s last day,” Reedus said. “He had somebody’s blood all over him, and he left my chair covered in blood. And I still won’t let the cleaning guys clean off that chair, because that bloody chair reminds me of Andy every day. The whole trailer’s really clean except for one chair that’s covered in blood.”
Last we saw of Rick, he was impaled on some rebar with two herds of walkers closing in. It’s a safe bet that it’s at least a healthy portion of his blood — and now, some other party’s, covering him in what looks to be a bloody final showdown.
But apparently, in the last scene that he shot, Lincoln was supposed to be happy. Or at least smiling. “The very last scene that we shot, he’s supposed to smile,” Reedus said. “He was supposed to smile, and it was a close-up. So I kept sneaking in and tickling his feet and making him smile on this one line. And I thought it was funny. And he liked it. He kept asking me to keep doing it. So the last scene that he shot on this show, I’m below camera tickling his feet.”
That goodwill carried over after it was a wrap for Mr. Lincoln. The actor apparently gave a rousing farewell speech — undocumented by social media per his request — encouraging The Walking Dead team to “tell the best stories we can, and give it 1,000 percent in his honor" — and also “Don’t you dare f—ing slow down one second.” The cast also put together a farewell video for the departing actor:
Reedus’ connection to his co-star still holds strong, even after they parted ways on the show. “I still send him scripts. When no one’s looking, I email him scripts, and he gives me notes still to this day,” the actor said. So even if Rick isn’t there in person, his influence lives on in Daryl.
The next episode of The Walking Dead, “What Comes After,” says farewell to Rick on Nov. 4.