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The Walking Dead: These Actors Almost Played Rick Grimes Instead of Andrew Lincoln

Published on January 23rd, 2021 | Updated on January 23rd, 2021 | By FanFest

Andrew Lincoln is the perfect Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. Yet did you know that Lincoln almost didn’t get the part?  The Walking Dead‘s original Showrunner may have had someone else in mind.  Plus, there were several big Hollywood names attached to the part, including one of your favorites from The Walking Dead.

Let’s start with one of your favorites from the show, Jon Bernthal. Bernthal originally auditioned for the part of Rick Grimes. The original Showrunner and the person responsible for bringing The Walking Dead, to television, Fank Darabont, had Bernthal audition side-by-side with Lincoln.  Darabont even had the pair audition sitting together in a car, eating burgers.  Bernthal, ultimately, was awarded the part of Shane and lasted two seasons on the show until his character was killed.

Photo: Walker Stalker Con

Bernthal would go on to play Frank Castle in Netflix’s highly acclaimed The Punisher TV series and a slew of other great roles.

Speaking of Darabont and The Punisher, originally he wanted his prior collaborator, Thomas Jane, to star as Rick.  Jane is best known for playing Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher in the feature film.


Darabont had collaborated with Thomas Jane on the Stephen King adaptation The Mist. If that film sounds familiar or you feel like there may be some other familiar faces in it from The Walking Dead, then you are a spot-on super-fan! Melissa McBride (Carol) and Laurie Holden (Andrea) both had roles in The Mist.

Darabont had originally tried to sell The Walking Dead to HBO (my word, how amazing would the show had been on HBO – can’t you just hear Negan now?).  When Darabont pitched it to HBO, Thomas Jane was actually all set to play the part of Rick Grimes! Whoa! Lucky for us all, HBO did not move forward with the show.  Instead, Darabont sold it to AMC and with Thomas Jane now no longer available, due to being set to star in the show, Hung, it was necessary to find a new star to play Rick Grimes.

Other actors who auditioned for Rick Grimes included Battlestar Galactica star Jamie Bamber; League of Extraordinary Gentlemen star Stuart Townsend; and Mark Pellegrino (Lost).


And guess what? There was one more actor who was on The Walking Dead that almost played Rick Grimes too! Ethan Embry, star of Can’t Hardly Wait. He later came on to play the character, Carter, who, if fans remember, didn’t make it too far on the show.


We’re certainly thrilled with the way the events unfolded and landing on Andrew Lincoln as the star of The Walking Dead. Now, it’s time to get those Rick Grimes movies to the big screen!

What are your thoughts on these actors? Let us know in the comments below!

Next Article: Actors that almost played Daryl Dixon? Was Norman Reedus the first choice?



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12 thoughts on “The Walking Dead: These Actors Almost Played Rick Grimes Instead of Andrew Lincoln

  1. I’m glad Andrew Lincoln got the part as Rick, it wouldn’t be the same, he’s such a great actor, hope he returns to the seasons again. Also be quick and sort this movie cant wait to see it, and it will be great to see Andrew in it.

  2. The guy who played Morales was also in the Mist as one of the soldiers in the grocery store. Also Sam Witwer who played the tank zombie in season 1 episode 1 was also in the Mist. As for casting, Andy’s perfect as Rick.

  3. Don’t get me wrong…I loved Andy as Rick, but now I’m kind of depressed that I’ll never get to see Thomas Jane as Rick! My wife & I were among the few people who loved the Punisher movie, and it means a lot for her to say something like that!

  4. Out of the actors listed the one that I feel would have been great as Rick Grimes is Thomas Jane. Watch him in the Punisher.

  5. I love Andrew Lincoln in the part, but I can also see Thomas Jane playing Rick. Loved The Mist.

  6. Even though i love jon berthanal im so happy Andrew Lincoln got the job. He is so talented and AWESOME in TWD. I miss him so much cant wait for his movies. It’s been way to long to see him in action

  7. Rick didn’t use the granede (SP) In that episode. Carol took it out of his pocket when she washed his pants. The granade was in Carol’s purse and Rick threw it through the windows at the CDC. And that’s how the escaped right before the bomb blew up.

  8. I think Thomas Jane would’ve made a good Rick. Bernthal too, though he’s indelibly associated with Shane. Interesting that those two both played the Punisher. But I think we can all agree that Andrew Lincoln was and is perfect in the role.


as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic