Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan talks acting, geeks and Law & Order before coming to Tampa Comic Con Sunday
As half of the youngest, best-looking couple on AMC's hit zombie drama The Walking Dead, Lauren Cohan has become the green-eyed queen of every geek's fantasy.
Indeed, as her gutsy Maggie Greene prepares to marry geeky sidekick-turned-passionate survivor Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), they are living most fanboys' post-apocalyptic dream, where even the most awkward guy has a shot at the pretty girl at the end of the world.
"I know that on the page, Glenn's character is supposed to be a dorky guy, but other than the fact that he's Asian, I don't really understand what makes him geeky to anyone," Cohan said. "Maybe the part of it that's the 'dream come true' is that Glenn was the really shy one where Maggie was concerned. But he's good looking and so is Steven; (Maggie) always saw him that way. It always made a lot of sense to me."
The topic of geeks comes up often in our discussion, not long before last Sunday's blockbuster third season finale for the show. To be precise, we talked right after the episode where hardcase Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) sacrificed himself to try taking out the show's villain, the Governor, but before the whirlwind finale in which Andrea died, shooting herself in the head after getting bitten by a friend who had died and returned as a zombie.
Cohan appears Sunday at Tampa Bay Comic Con with fellow cast member Emily Kinney (Beth Greene), signing autographs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Kinney also will appear Saturday.) Which means a lot of face time with the fanboys who cut their teeth on Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead graphic novels and helped turn the TV show into a magnet for the highly sought after 18- to 49-year-old viewer.
"I always end up doing sci-fi; I guess I really like the brains of it," said Cohan, who has also had roles on the CW series Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. "I like the people that are devoted enough to put in the time to read the comic. I'm a geek myself; I grew up watching Star Trek, I don't do drugs. … They're my people."
That bit seems hard to believe. Born in New Jersey but raised in England, the 31-year-old leggy beauty has a beguiling British lilt to her voice, which surprises if you've spent much time watching her play tomboyishly tough Southern gal Maggie on The Walking Dead.
British actors pop up in the most unusual places on Walking Dead; star Andrew Lincoln is a London-born actor from British film and TV projects like Love, Actually and the BBC drama This Life. Bad guy the Governor is played by another Brit, David Morrissey, star of classic English TV series State of Play and Blackpool.
Tell Cohan that casting such actors in American projects allows producers to present U.S. audiences with super-experienced stars they have never seen before, and she gasps like it's an idea she has never heard before.
"It's always a fantasy for Brits to play Southern … maybe it's Tennessee Williams, or maybe it's that it's so foreign to us," she said, noting that playing American is a bit easier for her than for Lincoln and Morrissey, who are "through and through Englishmen."
"There's something old-fashioned about the South; it calls to your spirit," Cohan said by cellphone from a coffeehouse in Atlanta not far from where the show films. "I love the pace and the sense of priorities. It makes me feel like a lady."
You can read the rest of my story on Cohan, which was published in today's Tampa Bay Times Weekend section, by clicking here. Below are a few quotes which didn't make the cut:
Me: How tough was it to lose Michael Rooker as a castmate?
Cohan: "It’s so sad when someone goes. I know its always hard to lose people from a cast; but its so flippin’ sad. And the thing about Rooker, even though his character is such a baddie, he’s one of softest castmembers ever. Hes such a little pussycat. He’s also very good with guns. It’s so weird, its kinda how you go through life, you think, 'Well if I love less or don’t love as deeply, maybe it won’t hurt as much when I lose someone.' But it kinda doesn’t work like that. You kinda just have to live fully and…It’s a very difficult show to do, you’re kinda always in mourning.”
Me: Could you tell as you were working on the show that it was this good?
Cohan: "We know it's good when we're out there because we feel very creatively fulfilled. But often times that’s a bad sign. If you have a good time making something it’s often bad. It’s like pilot I did; we had so much fun and we were so sure it was going to go (forward). It didn’t even get close to getting made. It’s the same with auditions. The Walking Dead is some kind of anomaly. It’s very hard work – that’s why it works. It’s not easy to make. Be in pain and you will succeed."
Me: It seems like Maggie has opened up more as the series has gone along. What do you think?
Cohan: "I think she’s wiser now. I think Maggie -- she's been through the worst already. She thought she lost her dad, she was ready to say goodbye, her faith was restored by him pulling through. The fact that they did escape from The Governor. I think she’s a very – she's pragmatic, but she does also believe they’re supposed to survive."
Me: You're also the guest star in a Law & Order: SVU episode, playing a TV reporter raped by a co-worker. What was that like?
Cohan: "The journey she goes through, you could see the biggest transition in 45 minutes. She starts at the absolute top of her game, and by the end of the episode, she’s a completely broken human...The first few days I didn’t have time to talk to anybody. It’s a beast of a role, the first few days, I’m not talking to anybody, I’m just wanting to do good work. When you do good work, you get a lot of support...(But) I have to stop doing all (these roles) with emotional intensity. I gotta do something nice, like the next Enchanted or something."