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Andrew Lincoln logs life into ‘Dead’

'Love Actually' co-star to make U.S. TV splash in AMC series

New Faces for Fall:
Sharon Horgan | Jon Michael Hill | Billy Gardell | Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe | Andrew Lincoln | Holt McCallany | Michael Pitt | Maggie Q | Ruth Wilson | James Wolk
Fall TV Preview 2010

Andrew Lincoln was born into the world with a far less celebrity-friendly surname: Clutterbuck.

“Why do you think I changed it?” he jokes of the clunky old English moniker. “My first agent laughed and said to me, ‘If I sign you, you can’t have that name.’ ”

When the new AMC drama “The Walking Dead” premieres in October, Lincoln is the name that American audiences will remember.

“It’s an amazing role,” says the British import — who made a splash in Richard Curtis’ “Love, Actually” and in the cult hit U.K. TV series “This Life” — of his first foray into American television. “It’s a real honor to be involved in it.”

Exec produced by writer-director Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd, “Walking Dead” is based on Robert Kirkman’s best-selling graphic novels and revolves around Rick Grimes (Lincoln), a Georgia cop that shepherds a group of survivors in an apocalyptic world overtaken by zombies.

“It reads like a Greek play,” says Lincoln of the thriller. “It’s so high-stakes in the world that they are inhabiting. It’s all life or death, and this always makes for high drama.”

Lincoln began acting in Bath, England, at age 14, playing the Artful Dodger in his all-boy private school production of “Oliver.” He then joined the National Youth Theater of Great Britain.

“I was fully infected by the virus,” he says of the realization that acting was his calling. When it came time for university, the budding thesp enrolled at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Ironically, it wasn’t Lincoln’s resume but the birth of his son that helped him nail the “Dead” audition.

“I’m absolutely convinced I got this gig because I hadn’t slept in two weeks,” he cheerfully recalls of the long, late nights with a newborn. “I looked apocalyptic and gaunt. It was very ‘zombie chic.’ (Darabont) must have thought, ‘This guy is the real deal.’ “

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