THE BEST LIFE
THE BEST LIFE
Lincoln learned to handle weapons when
starring in the British series Strike Back. His
character, military intelligence officer Hugh
Collinson, was eventually shot about 80
times—and then blown up. This explains why
Lincoln looks so natural in the firing lane, feet
planted, his left palm cradling the pistol butt
while his right hand guides and fires. What it
doesn’t explain is why he’s so damn accurate,
consistently ripping tight clusters of holes
into Zombie Chuck, a common target at firing
ranges. (Zombies really are everywhere.)
When his agent suggested he audition for
The Walking Dead, Lincoln hadn’t heard of the
graphic novels. Then, visiting a comic-book
store, he saw a wall dedicated to the series. It
was a pivotal moment. “I’d played sort of jokey,
Jack the Lad kinds of roles. Romantic roles.
Period dramas.” This? Very different.
So he made a tape of himself speaking in
a Southern accent for the new zombie show
on American cable. Thanks to long nights as
a new dad, he began to look more haggard.
It was hardly part of a master plan, but it
“Of course I want
to be in good shape
and be fit, but I want
to have stamina.
It’s not an exercise
in vanity. It’s about
being able to do stuff.”
worked. Lincoln beat out about 100 rivals for
the part—and has embraced it so fully that he
stays in dialect on set between takes. The attitude has rubbed off on the rest of the cast.
“Andy keeps this show alive,” says Steven
Yeun, who plays Glenn, one of the deputy’s
most innocent charges. “He’s always there
early and leaves late. He always knows his
lines. He’s always pumping everyone up when
he sees a drop in energy in the scene.”
On days off, Lincoln sometimes has cast-
mates over to his Atlanta house, where he
shows off the cooking skills that he honed out
of school. “He made this spaghetti Bolognese
that was ridiculously delicious,” Yeun says. “I
said, ‘ Why don’t you tone it down at being so
good at everything?’ ”
Lincoln even makes keeping fit look easy.
Like most leading men, he appears leaner in
person than onscreen. When I ask what his
exercise regimen is, he’s almost flip: “Eat less.
Exercise more.” So it’s no surprise to learn
that Lincoln doesn’t work with a trainer and
hates going to the gym.
“The whole vanity aspect of building up
different muscles—I have no interest,” he says.
“I’m probably talking to the wrong magazine,
but this six-pack phenomenon in acting, I just
don’t subscribe to it.”
Fortunately, the physical nature of The
Walking Dead—sprinting, fighting, crashing
through the Georgia pines in 90° heat—gives
Lincoln plenty of exercise. And when he wants
more, he runs. A few years ago, after his
mother announced at 59 that she wanted to
run her first marathon, Lincoln decided to join
her, finishing under 4 hours. Today he does
shorter distances, learning his adopted city
street by street. Running is work, but it’s also
improvised—a lot like his career arc.
“Of course I want to be in good shape and
be fit, but I want to have stamina,” he says.
“It’s not an exercise in vanity. It’s about being
able to do stuff. On Friday I did an 18-hour day,
including travel. I was up at quarter to six in
the morning and got home at half past midnight. The day before we’d been outdoors all
day. It was 90 to 95, and the humidity was up.
So I don’t need a trainer. I’ve got a zombie
apocalypse to keep me fit.”