‘LA Noir’ Casting Hints At Possible ‘Walking Dead’ Departure

One of the stars of AMC's hit zombie series may join Frank Darabont on his new TNT project.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Possible Spoilers Ahead for the second season of "The Walking Dead"! Don't say that you weren't warned!

Last summer, "The Walking Dead" showrunner Frank Darabont was dismissed by AMC amidst rumors of budget battles with the network, which Darabont partially confirmed last week in his first public statement on the matter. Earlier this month, Darabont inked a deal to write, produce and direct "LA Noir" for TNT. And now it appears that one of the stars of "The Walking Dead" may follow Darabont to his new project.

Variety is reporting that Jon Bernthal is in early negotiations with TNT to portray the lead character, Joe Teague on Darabont's "LA Noir." In "LA Noir," Teague is a Los Angeles Police Officer during the '40s and '50s who finds himself caught in a war between the corrupt LAPD and Mickey Cohen's mob.

The obvious note to grasp is that Bernthal couldn't even speak to another network about a starring role unless he was no longer under contract to his current series. As played by Bernthal, Shane Walsh has long outlived his counterpart in the original "Walking Dead" comic book by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Cliff Rathburn. Shane is arguably a much more important character on the TV series than he ever was in the comic, serving as the second lead to Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and remaining at the center of the show's love triangle between Rick and his wife, Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies).

However, even if Bernthal is leaving "The Walking Dead," there's no guarantee that his exit will play out in the same way that it did before. In fact, Shane's very presence within the story has led to the deaths of two other characters who were around a lot longer than he was. So Kirkman and company aren't afraid to deviate from the source material when necessary.

"The Walking Dead" will return to AMC for the second half of its second season on Sunday, February 12.