Andrew Lincoln wasn’t exactly a nobody in showbiz before he landed the role of Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead, but he also wasn’t exactly a household name in the US. Luckily for Lincoln and viewers everywhere who have been transfixed by his portrayal of the zombie-killer extraordinaire, he nailed his audition thanks to some unexpected circumstances. According to Andrew Lincoln, just before his Walking Dead audition, real life intruded in a rather fortuitous way. Apparently, the birth of his second child caused him to look, well, very much like Rick Grimes does.
I hadn’t slept for three days, I was shell shocked. I had this apocalyptic chic that probably fit the bill. I looked like I’d survived a zombie apocalypse.

Method acting may not be an option when it comes to preparing for an audition to play a zombie apocalypse survivor, but Andrew Lincoln inadvertently perfected the right look and state of mind to embody Rick Grimes. His comments to The Guardian explain a lot about how he might have beat out any competition for the role. He’s definitely a phenomenal actor who only seems to get better year after year, but seeing him sleep-deprived and shell shocked must have made it easy for the head honchos to imagine him in the world of The Walking Dead. (Something definitely have helped the producers move on from Tom Jane.)

Interestingly, it seems as if Andrew Lincoln was later able to channel that shell shock in Season 3 when his character was faced with the birth of his daughter on the The Walking Dead. Sure, the circumstances were different during the audition than on the killing spree with a machete, but there’s no denying his look of desperation after Lori’s death and Judith’s birth. Exhaustion is universal, and he definitely mastered utter weariness in the first half of Season 3. Who knows? Maybe dads everywhere who couldn’t relate to the zombie apocalypse earlier in the series finally found some common ground with Rick.

It’s a good thing his baby wasn’t too late in arriving in the world. Television wouldn’t be the same if Andrew Lincoln hadn't been the person signed to play Rick Grimes. Imagining any other actor playing the character just doesn’t compute. He’s been fantastic at everything from playing the desperate father to masking his Brit accent for a Georgia one. The Walking Dead can conceivably carry on without most of the other actors, but Andrew Lincoln feels essential by this point. Hopefully, the show won’t pull a fast one and put Rick in Negan’s path in the weeks to come.

On the whole, Andrew Lincoln wears “apocalyptic chic” awfully well on the small screen, so we have to be grateful that his inadvertent shell shock look could have played a part in him nabbing the role of Rick Grimes. Lincoln has the acting chops to go on to a great career even after the end of The Walking Dead, but all the stuff and things he’s managed as Rick have made a lasting impression.

To catch Andrew Lincoln rocking the apocalyptic chic, be sure to tune into The Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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