[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Now” episode of The Walking Dead.]
If you think viewers have had it rough wondering whether Glenn is dead or alive, how do you think his on-screen wife, Maggie, must feel? Not good, it turns out. On tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, a distraught Maggie tried to get past the zombie herd outside the walls of Alexandria to go look for Glenn, but her trip into the sewer with Aaron proved all for naught.
However, Maggie did reveal to her companion another reason for her restlessness: she is pregnant with Glenn’s baby. We spoke to Lauren Cohan to get her take on her character’s pregnancy, having to shoot those scenes in the sewer, and what she makes of fan reaction to the big Glenn mystery. (Read through both pages for the entire interview, and also make sure to check out our interview with Ross Marquand.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, first things first. Maggie dropped the big pregnancy reveal this week. When did you find out about that twist and what was your reaction?
LAUREN COHAN: I had a sneaky suspicion it was going to happen, but not from any clues. We really get no clues. I just felt that maybe there was the desire to go down that road for Maggie and Glenn. Because we talked about it in season 3 when they weren’t pregnant, but said if they were it would be okay. It’s just such an interesting topic, and I overwhelmingly feel like with the loss the life that there is a responsibility to create life. I know there are opinions on every side of the camp about being pregnant in a time like this, but I just find it really exciting. Even within the craziness now, I think it’s correct that this is the next step on that journey for those two.
So you had a sneaky suspicion she was pregnant, but when did showrunner Scott Gimple confirm that suspicion for you?
We were reading [the premiere script] and there’s a moment where Glenn says he doesn’t want Maggie going out there, and we basically as couple decide that it’s not right. And then Steven and I got the call from Scott as we were reading it, so it was kind of funny ‘cause I read it and then said to Steven, “Is this…?” And he goes “I think.” And then, yep!
Obviously, having a child in a world like this is no small decision. So how is Maggie handling the news in your eyes?
The world doesn’t stop when the world stops, and to me it feels very right that this is happening. As a storyline and as something to explore as actors and as how it will affect not just Maggie and Glenn but the entire world and Maggie’s relationship to others and Glenn’s relationship to others — it puts such a great, loaded road ahead of us. And if you are talking just about pregnancy and becoming a mother, and with every other factor as well as the uncertainty of Glenn’s fate, it makes for great story this year and great character investigation. It just feels right! That’s all I can say. It just feels right that they’re having a baby.
Look, I admire Maggie’s need to get out there to find Glenn, but her original plan of using a few fireworks to distract hundreds of walkers was garbage. You would have been zombie meat within 20 yards.
I know. It was so silly.
Talk a little about the compulsion she does feel to get out there and do something instead of just waiting behind the wall.
That’s part of what coming to terms with pregnancy is for her too. This season we’re going to see her limitations. It would be out of character entirely for Maggie not to do everything that she could, and not being a mother myself but thinking about that, it’s about coming to terms with all those different boundaries. Maggie burns the picture she gave him because they would never be apart again, so it’s quite a heavy thing to have on your conscience.
It isn’t whom she is to not go and try. And it’s appropriate to me that it’s her and Aaron that go. There’s definitely a kindred spirit there with those two. He’s going through a similar trajectory with the blame and the guilt. And when she realizes that he’s doing it for his own reasons, she allows him to come with her. She’s not to be stopped, until she’s stopped.
Ross told me that even though Aaron and Maggie have not been on screen a lot together that you guys had decided to play it as if they had become friends and we just haven’t seen that play out on the show.
Yeah, that’s what I love about this show. You just have slices, but there’s a whole world going on around it. There’s Maggie and Deanna’s relationship, the conversations that Maggie and Glenn have, and it’s really for the audience to glean what they want. It’s funny because, like, Alex Breckenridge and I are really good friends now, and she and I have never had a scene together, but you have to believe that there’s the community of people that interact constantly, even more so in the normal world. There are neighbors in my building I haven’t met in five years.
That sewer scene looked pretty gnarly. What was filming that like in that water and with those gross sewer zombies?
It was really disgusting. Our feet were so waterlogged by the end of the episode. In our episodes we have to cut stuff that don’t end up making it in there and there were a few scenes in the sewer that got cut. I was watching it and thinking, gosh, it felt like so much longer that we were in the sewer! [Laughs]
It was really disgusting. There was the scene were we arrive and there’s seemingly one walker wedged in the rubble, but there’s actually another one — that was really gross. I don’t know how well you can tell in the episode but Maggie’s hand goes into his guts to push him away and goes straight through his skin and his skin stretches over her fingertips — that’s kind of what the sewer felt like.
Yeah, you can definitely see some of that. It looked positively revolting.
Yeah, the walls were slimy. That job I was thinking of taking in the sewage department? I’m not going to take it anymore.
Maggie is in this heap of despair and worry, and then she has a little bit of a shift when she goes to wipe Glenn’s name off that wall of death there. Is this the seed of hope being planted here?
Yeah, I think she’s really challenged. She’s the most challenged we’ve seen her. She’s letting herself break a bit. It’s so recent that we lost Hershel and Beth, and I think we forget that because time moves quick and episodes move quickly, but as long as she has him she was able to continue to fight.
That’s not to say Maggie loses her hope through this time of uncertainty, but she says to Aaron, “You know, I don’t get to know.” And I think that’s the realization that it’s not accepting that he’s gone; it’s saying that I have to live with the uncertainty of it, but it’s still innocent until proven otherwise. She wouldn’t be Maggie if she just said, “Well, he’s not here so he must be dead.” But it’s painstaking. And I obviously can’t speak as Lauren, but I can speak as her, and it’s a refusal to let it be true.
Well, she’s wondering what’s happened to Glenn, and obviously everybody watching has been wondering what’s happened to Glenn. I’m curious what you guys have been making of the reaction by everybody over whether he is dead or not, because it has been pretty insane and I’m sure you all have been taking note of that.
This is the hardest time yet on the show. Obviously, I always knew losing Glenn was going to be…. You just hope that we’re never going to lose anybody, but you have this couple and the question that people always ask is, “Does it make you more vulnerable to be a couple in love in a world where life is taken away so frequently and quickly?” People are grieving, and to me it’s not a television show anymore. We did a convention last weekend and I had to step away a number of times because people are so sad and it’s really difficult.
I don’t mean to be funny because it is not real and it is a TV show, but the way that people feel when they are invested and they love characters is real. I watched some of the fan reaction videos where people film themselves as they watch the episode and, I mean, I screamed at my television when I watched the episode. And I know what happens because I read it! So to be completely honest, it’s just heinous. Just heinous. I can’t even go on social media. He’s my buddy — Steve! It’s very hard to speak about because it’s so ambiguous. There were little girls at the convention and they had “Glenn lives” on their cheeks.
If nothing else it has to excite you guys that you have a fan base that in season 6 is still that invested in what is happening on the show.
You know what’s so interesting is that I am friendly with my postman, Reggie. I just saw him and he was behind an episode and he heard everyone talking about it and saying, “Have you seen the episode?” And he hadn’t. And then he watched it and he said he hasn’t been able to go back to his television set. He’s actually distraught. He’s beside himself.
So basically, what you’re saying is that no mail is getting delivered by Reggie.
Yeah, no mail has been delivered since the Glenn incident. But it’s the mother of all seasons. It only gets more intense from here. And I know intense is a word that gets used a lot when talking about The Walking Dead and when we talk about it, but, wow. There’s so much story that happens this year and Scott goes between characters and plot and driving this season in different ways. But this season in particular has just knocked us off our feet in terms of how big the strides have been and how much happens.