On a Television Critics Association panel earlier this week, Andrew Lincoln teased that he and costar Danai Gurira “watched a lot of Bridgerton” to prepare for their characters’ romance in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.
It turns out the Netflix binge was Gurira’s idea, as showrunner Scott M. Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s L.A. premiere on Tuesday.
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“There was some Bridgerton homework that Danai assigned,” Gimple said, to both he and Lincoln.
Lincoln and Gurira reprise their roles as Rick and Michonne in The Walking Dead spinoff series — as well as serve as executive producers — after both left the show before it came to an end in November 2022. After establishing themselves as a couple and becoming separated in the original series, the spinoff follows Rick and Michonne’s love story as they try to find each other amid the zombie apocalypse.
As for how that storyline relates to Bridgerton, Gurira explained, “It’s not about relating to it, it’s about a love story that accomplished what it was proposing. It had a very clear world, it had very clear characters, very clear pursuits, very clear storyline arc.”
“The satisfaction that I feel, the reason [the show] is so popular, is there’s a satisfaction that the love stories cumulate and I wanted [Andrew and Scott], because of course they hadn’t watched it, so I wanted them — I would just text them key scenes, I’d tape them on my phone, just for them to see what this is and you see why this works,” the star continued. “There are really scenes where even the characters aren’t sure of what they’re doing, or they’re doing things that aren’t quite what they want to be doing or they’re working against their real goals or their real heart, but the love is clear and the language works with it so beautifully.”
Gurira compared it to how as a writer herself, sometimes when she gets writers block she reads an August Wilson play, “not because I’m trying to be August Wilson, not because I’m trying to find his words in my head, it’s because his narratives accomplish what they propose. He has a very specific world, and he’s got an unabashedly unapologetic voice, so it reminds me of my own. So that’s what I was trying to do for these dudes.”
For what has been called the most romantic of The Walking Dead stories, Gimple said the spinoff explores “love being the fuel for a survival story,” and “these two characters’ love, being as intense as it is, being the soulmates that they are, the crazy that they both possess, it was a no-brainer” for what the new series would focus on.
The trio also took inspiration from “Casablanca, Somewhere in Time, old school — we talked about a lot of romances and aspects of it. It’s not a one-to-one comparison in our world but a love story always has an obstacle; now in our story the obstacle is massive: It’s the dead, it’s the situation that they find themselves in,” Gimple added. “Whether it’s a rom-com or Bridgerton or whatever, there is something keeping people apart. In this though, there’s a world that has changed these people, and in some ways they’ve got to find themselves first before they find each other.”
The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres Feb. 25 on AMC and AMC+.
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