And now the battle is joined. Rick Grimes and Co. infiltrated Woodbury in Sunday’s midseason Walking Dead finale and if you don’t want to know any more about it, then I suggest you stop reading right now. (SPOILER ALERT: Look away immediately unless you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.) Not only did the two sides battle it out, but the episode also saw the return of Jon Bernthal as Shane, who appeared as a figment of Rick’s imagination during the fight. We talked to the man who plays Rick, Andrew Lincoln, about finally paying a visit to the town he and costar Norman Reedus had derisively dubbed “Woodbury 90210″, as well as his off-screen taunting with the man who plays the Governor, David Morrissey, and the super secret return of Shane.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, you finally got to pay a visit to Woodbury 90210. What did you think of the place?
ANDREW LINCOLN: I hate it there. [laughs] I just can’t bear it. It’s so funny because every time Norman and I have to shoot around there, we just go, “Ugh, I hate it!” I love the prison. I love the dirt. I love the fact that we never clean up. I don’t know, there’s just something not right about that place. It was great shooting the hell out of it! We took it to them. There weren’t as many of us but we took the battle directly to them. But it was weird because David and I – we still haven’t quite met yet in the season. He’s been texting me all the time when I’m not there, just saying certain things. And that’s all we’ve been doing is just texting derogatory things like “Get out of my prison!…Leave my friends alone…Get your creepy British hands off one of my friends.” It’s all that kind of stuff going on. So it’s good fun.
EW: Yeah, Rick and the Governor have not even shared a scene yet at this point.
LINCOLN: I know! It’s kind of hilarious that all of this has gone down. But that’s the thing I love about the structure of it, using something completely not from the comic — the two brothers — as the lynchpin, which I thought was a really smart way of connecting these two worlds that nobody would have ever anticipated. And also to have Merle be driven by the same familial instincts was great. It’s a great dynamic for Merle because everybody thinks, oh, I know what he is. And then you realize that his motivation is exactly the same as his younger brother’s, which is true probably, isn’t it? Even if you didn’t get on with a relation, you’d still want to find them.
EW: Of course, the biggest shock of all may have been the return of Jon Bernthal as Shane — or at least Rick’s hallucination of Shane. What was it like having Jon back in the mix?
LINCOLN: Man, it’s just always a joy to have him. He’s a great, great man and a great talent and I love him. He’s my brother and it was so strange seeing him there — and yet, so familiar. And it was very moving. He came back and was on his way to doing the Scorsese movie [The Wolf of Wall Street]. I could see him and he was being very respectful and standing back and letting us do our thing and not interfering and just watching. And I could see him itching to go so I said, “Jon, I need to run lines for this.” And he came on set and he wasn’t supposed to be working that night but suddenly he just said, “Right. I’m just coming. I’m coming back. I can’t not work.” So he got changed and we started acting the scene. He was only supposed to shoot the day afterwards.
And it was weird because Laurie Holden said to him, “What’s it like? You’re just living the dream. You get to go work with Scorsese.” And he said, “This is the dream here. This is the greatest atmosphere I’ve ever been involved in on any set.” And it’s amazing. Sarah [Wayne Callies] said the same thing as well. It really is this extraordinary family. Only in my job can I keep killing my friend. This is the third time I’ve killed Jon. Well, it’s actually the second time, but I like to think of the other one as a family killing, via my son. Only in this crazy job can I still keep bringing people back form the dead in my imagination — and shoot them again.
For more on ‘The Walking Dead’ midseason finale, check out Dalton’s interview with showrunner Glen Mazzara, who also previews what to expect next, as well as Clark Collis’ interview with creator Robert Kirkman, and Darren Franich’s episode recap. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.