Lauren Cohan on being Maggie

WARNING: This story contains major spoilers related to Season 6, Episode 3 of The Walking Dead.


Is Maggie Greene from The Walking Dead, played with just the right mixture of tough and tender by Lauren Cohan, the unluckiest character in all of television?
That question was very much up for debate after the Oct. 25 episode of the smash hit zombie-fest on AMC.


At the end of that program, her husband, Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), apparently fell prey to a crowd of the ravenous undead who tore out his intestines and devoured them like sausage during Oktoberfest.


And if that is indeed what happened, it would mean a trifecta of misery for Maggie, following the deaths of her father, Hershel, and her half-sister, Beth.


But “if” is the operative word, because the internet has been buzzing ever since with writers eagerly pointing out clues that Glenn is possibly still alive, including the fact that he didn’t appear immediately afterward on Talking Dead, the post-show chat session, like every other major character who died.


And show-runner Scott Gimpel dodged a variety of bullets by issuing this statement: “In some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn, or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story, to help complete the story.”


When we spoke to Cohan shortly before the episode in question aired, she obviously didn’t give anything away, even though that segment had been filmed months before.


But here’s what she did say. “There have been awfully high stakes for Maggie on the show all along. But I sometimes think that we only get to see Maggie’s experience as the person who loses.


“It’s also been hard sometimes for Lauren as a person to see her character just keep receiving things instead of pushing back sometimes. There’s so many strong voices out there, but I think you’re going to see me stepping up more now as this season goes on.”


She also spoke with evident fondness of Yeun, explaining their onscreen chemistry: “We decided to play out the very best couple we could be in our own lives, a very real and contemporary relationship.”


Cohan does such a convincing job with the Southern accent Maggie uses in the show that it’s doubly surprising to discover her background.


“I’m a Jersey girl and a British woman in the same body” is how she laughingly puts it. The 33-year-old actress was born in Cherry Hill, N.J., where she lived until moving to England at the age of 13.


“The funny thing is that even though I was a 100 per cent American girl, who played sports and went to malls and listened to pop music, I was also secretly this Anglophile who read books like Five Go to Smuggler’s Top and wanted to live in a storybook British countryside.”


And once she crossed the Atlantic, that’s just what she did, growing up in Surrey and changing from “a hyperactive sporty American girl to a kind of bookish British young lady.”


But despite her literary bent, she had never thought of going into show business until “some friends asked me to audition for a play. I wasn’t any good at all, but when I got to college at the University of Winchester, I tried it again.”


She recalls vividly that “when we did The Misanthrope by Moliere and I was playing Eliante, that’s when the magic happened. I liked doing it in rehearsal, but it was all fairly technical and I was worried about just getting it right.


“But when I finally performed it in front of an audience, that night I just felt myself let go and the director came backstage afterwards and said, ‘Where was that during rehearsals?’ and I had to tell him that I didn’t know.”


She thinks about that moment. “I guess if you really have passion for something deep inside, it finally has to come out, whether or not you know it’s there. That’s what happened to me.


“From that moment on, I knew acting would be my life.”


Her success on The Walking Dead has made Cohan a bankable property, but what’s fascinating is that during the hiatus between seasons this year, she used the time to make another scary, supernatural-style thriller, this one called The Boy, scheduled to be released in January.


“It’s a really deep, dark work. A psychological thriller, kind of like The Other in its own quiet, creepy, disturbing way. It’s about a nanny who discovers that she’s been hired to care for a life-size doll.


“That’s all I can tell you for now, except — big surprise — I wind up losing my mind.”


She laughs. “I don’t know if it was such a great idea to do a film like that in between seasons of The Walking Dead. It’s kind of a scary thing for my mental health, isn’t it? But I’m highly attracted to projects like that.


“It’s like I said, if you really have a passion for something deep inside, it finally has to come out in the end.”


And if she’s lucky, maybe Glenn will be waiting there for her.



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