She may not be on the front lines of battle outside the walls of Alexandria, but Maggie Greene is learning one of the most important skills to keep the community safe on The Walking Dead: She’s being educated on how to lead under the tutelage of Deanna Monroe. But how will that leadership come into play in season 6? We went to the woman who plays Maggie, Lauren Cohan, for answers on that as well as imminent threats on both sides of the walls.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you have a giant cast like this there are obviously going to be times where your story line is going to be more prominent and other times where it’s going to be a little less so just because that’s the natural cycle of things. That said, I wanted more Maggie than we got last season. What’s it like for you being on a show where you know it has a giant cast and there are going to be these moments where you’re really going to have a chance to really stand out and shine, and other moments where you’re going to have to fade back a little bit?
LAUREN COHAN: Yeah, it’s a really good question because I was thinking about this earlier. If you step back and you say, “How has Maggie changed?” and if you look at that in the context of Maggie and Glenn, but also just look at them as individual people, the changes that have happened for her have been so fast. I think a lot of that comes from seeing how much the world has changed and then kind of zooming in on these characters and how they appropriate themselves to a new situation or to a new world.
I feel like that with my own life as much as I do with Maggie. I feel extremely different from that character, but I feel like our journey is similar. She’s a slow birth, you know? She’s kind of done what she’s wanted to do, which is to protect her family. Now, she’s learning how to be in more of a position of leadership like Deanna’s character. What I’ve really enjoyed is that she’s learning while you don’t see her, and then she gets to come back and acquire more authority and apply more guidance and help. You see Rick leaning on her a lot more this year, and that’s been able to happen because she’s gotten observe from the periphery. I think that’s echoed in how much we see these characters. I mean definitely I would like to do more, but I think that we actually learn more from the show by getting this the big scope or the big picture. I think we’ve learned more about the characters by seeing them in the context of the entire landscape.
I don’t know how much you look ahead in the comics, but in the comics, Maggie ends up having a very prominent leadership position, so having her in the role she’s in now with Deanna clearly makes sense in terms of her eventually getting to another place.
Yeah, and that’s what’s been interesting to me because I feel like she’s not trying to get ahead of herself. She’s saying, I’m never going to try and take control when somebody else can do this better than I can, and when. She’s just one of those like quiet observers that always has the best intentions. She has her values in the right place and then when what she has is needed, she’ll step forward with it.
Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes want to work more, but then when we do have a focus on somebody … like, I have an episode coming up this season that just really takes it out of you. And that’s also what happened with the episode where we find Beth. That was a humongous episode, and in between time you’re kind of healing from that or preparing for the next round of that, and I think that that’s a lot of what Maggie is.
We know there’s going to be some division going on here in Alexandria when things pick back up, so how are things working in terms of everyone getting on the same page?
When you have people dead, they invariably want to find someone to blame, and Pete having been a huge catalyst for what happened in that final episode is not alive to blame, and Rick by all intents and purposes is the craziest thing many of these people have seen. I think that they’re terrified, and so much has already happened, it’s crazy. What’s scariest for them is that the pillar of the community, Deanna, is at a loss, and that the only other strength is this mad man has people worried. I guess the theme of the whole thing is where will order come from? It’s just this whole sense in this first half of the season of this little idyllic bubble being crushed, so it’s metaphorically and literally where will they go?
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Let’s talk about the Wolves because they were clearly set up last season as an imminent threat.
The Wolves are going to feel like the beginning of the end. The Wolves are going to be incredibly scary and at a time when we have a limited amount of strong people that can actually deal. We see that vary a lot in the season, that the Alexandrians are just completely ill-equipped, and we’ve seen that already with Deanna’s son and the events of last year. They just don’t really know how to cope in this world, and the group is weakened. And it’s just at that moment when the Wolves come to attack us and it really does seem hopeless to protect the town from these guys. Everything is just decayed. There’s no trust, and the guardians like Glenn and Rick and the strongest people of the group have a lot to do.
What about like the walker situation, because I know you have a day with 300 walkers in episode 1. When I was there on set, there were 140 of them. So what can you say about the sheer size and number of some of these suckers you’re going to be dealing with?
You know what I like with that is that sometimes you get very focused on this group and the dynamics in the group or even human threats or whatever, and the first couple of episodes, again, give us a scope of what the rest of the world looks like. Just when you think that dealing with this was going to keep you safe for a second, you didn’t think about what was coming from the east, or suddenly over the mountain there’s this huge thing that you never could have even imagined is going to threaten you. So we definitely get a bit more of a bird’s eye view of how tremendous the fight is. It’s like the sudden perspective that you’re just trying to keep this one little safe hole and there’s a bigger mouse there than you could’ve imagined hiding.
You know I always need to get the relationship status from you because Maggie and Glenn have been the one constant. So how are things with those two in season 6?
You know, it’s really great and I feel like we’re learning so much about the Maggie and Glenn relationship by not seeing them together as much. But you see them do things in honor of the other one. You see quests that Glenn has to go on and quests that Maggie has to go on, and it, to me, is what the marriage should be. It’s like living for the good of that other person. We definitely have some really, really great moments this season and they’re evolving. It’s been such a crazy journey.
I caught a flicker of an old episode the other day and I was like, “Oh my God, he was a pizza boy!” Maggie and Glenn are in a really, really good place and love isn’t fair weather. Its deciding to be strong for that person because things are really, really difficult and I think that that’s what Maggie and Glenn are getting better at. And I like putting that out in the world. I like putting that out there with that couple. It’s exciting. There’s a lot of sweetness and there are a lot of really, really scary challenges — not for them as a couple, but for those two as individuals. This is my favorite season yet. And I have said that before, but this is my favorite season yet.
Watch Cohan talk more about what to expect in season 6 in the video below. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.