The Walking Dead showrunners gave Lennie James the choice to leave

Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC /

Excitement over Lennie James’ move to Fear the Walking Dead is building. Now we learn that leaving The Walking Dead was his decision to make.

Longtime fans of The Walking Dead have heard the stories of cast members getting the dreaded call from Scott M. Gimple that usually signals their character’s imminent demise. When it comes to Lennie James making the jump from The Walking Dead to Fear the Walking Dead, however, the showrunners gave him a choice.

In an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, Lennie James talked about Morgan’s move from the world of The Walking Dead to its companion series Fear the Walking Dead in one of the more highly anticipated events in The Walking Dead universe.

The conversation with Gimple started out like previous years. “You mostly don’t listen to anything he’s saying because you just want to know whether or not you’re going to die.” But that’s when things got a little weird. James says that Gimple called him a few days later asking him to come back for another conversation, and this time James thought Morgan was a goner for sure. “So I drove back to his house thinking he forgot to tell me that I’m dying. I got there, I sat down , I got a bottled water and he said, ‘By the way, this is not a conversation about you dying’.”

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Imagine the surprise of hearing that!

Gimple went on to explain that he was transitioning to oversee both shows, and he had an idea: “How would you like to continue to story of Morgan in Fear the Walking Dead?’” 

James said Gimple sent him home to ponder his question and talk to his wife, leaving the matter completely open. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Morgan was leaving and there was a lot left up in the air. “We just started talking about it over the next couple of weeks and months as there was a lot to take on board. It wasn’t a cast of, ‘This is going to happen,’ it was genuinely a case of what I thought about it, there was absolutely a choice.”

What’s more is that James notes that this wasn’t an idea being shopped around to other actors. The showrunners wanted Morgan for the crossover, but if James didn’t go along with it they were going to go in a different direction. (Naturally, we have to wonder what would have happened if he said no. Would Morgan die on The Walking Dead, or would a new cast member take his place on Fear? The possibilities are endless, but we’re glad Morgan made the jump after all.)

Morgan’s arrival on Fear the Walking Dead comes as the show transitions into a very exciting fourth season that is very different from the previous seasons, making it seem like a whole new show at this point.

Next: Fear the Walking Dead: Characters to know ahead of season 4

Fear the Walking Dead premieres on April 15 on AMC.