In a very special feature to So It Goes online, Issue 5 alum, Norman Reedus talks to Walking Dead friend, co-star and zombie apocalypse survivor Lauren Cohan, a.k.a, Maggie Greene.
Shot by So It Goes creative director, James Wright, and contributing photographer Toby Knott.
If you’ve somehow managed to thus far steer clear of new season spoilers, then proceed with caution...
NORMAN REEDUS: How did you first feel reading the script for the season premiere? Was it quite a shock, after the biggest cliffhanger to date, or were you aware at the end of the last season what was going to happen?
LAUREN COHAN: I was, I think we all were at probably episode of 9 of last year. You don’t get more used to losing people. I think we are still trying to...
NR: Yeah, I’ll never get used to it. What is the impact of losing Glenn (Steven Yeun) your co-star, whom you've worked with so closely from the beginning?
LC: It hit the hardest when we go through a moment on or off the show all together, but without some of our friends...when you have big moments and you want to celebrate, that is when I feel it the most. And when I see all the tribute videos fans make online.
NR: Do you think - to some degree - that shows nowadays, in a similar vein to Game of Thrones, need that air of unpredictability to retain viewers?
LC: I think it’s more the attachment to the people that keeps people invested but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say it was the shock factor.
NR: I hate that it’s like Survivor.
LC: Like American Idol with zombies...
NR: Ya totally. How safe do you any of you consider yourselves at the end of each season of Walking Dead? When would you know if you had made it beyond the most recent finale?
LC: We usually find out a good amount ahead of time. I feel as we go further into it you become more ok with it ending because we’ve told a good story. Maybe that’s self-defense...
NR: I hate asking you that question, when I know the answer to that question. But yeah, they are pretty cool about letting us know ahead of time.
LC: It’s weird though, because I was thinking about that with people we are losing this season. More and more you just think all “I want is more quality time with that person.”
NR: How do you think Maggie became such a strategist and leader in Walking Dead? What is it in her character that has given her the chops not just to survive but to plan for a life beyond, with her stewardship of Alexandria and her own pregnancy?
LC: I think Maggie hasn’t figured it out until now. I feel like once you lose the people you learned the most from, that’s when you start to realize what you actually learned, you know when you don’t have anyone else to lean on. In some ways you become the most resilient remnants of the people that touched you.
NR: How would you cope in an apocalypse - has the training your role in the show demands now given you some serious skills?
LC: I don’t think about the physical or the battle side of things, but I do think about the humanity. That’s why i like it - the lives they live - it cuts all the fat. You get to focus on the humanity. It makes me feel like I want as rich a life all the time as the life these characters live. Grateful for every day.
NR: With TV series such a commitment in any actor's life - Walking Dead is over five years of your own, what now is your own priority as an actor?
LC: Story. To tell a good story. Sometimes I get so excited about the places The Walking Dead could go even though we’ve already done so much, but I know there is so much potential ahead. We get to live a Western every day.
NR: Lastly, the scale of the show has swelled so dramatically in the last few seasons. How has that tangibly changed the experience of filming since you very first started?
LC: It feels like it hasn’t changed. Today we had some combat... and it’s running around your garden as a kid. We’re so lucky that its a big show, but the joys of it are so simple.
NR: Tell us about your theatre group No Man’s Land and the type of productions you put on. That’s the name of our last video game..!
LC: We called it No Man’s Land because we re-imagined Pygmalion into the First World War and subverted the male/female roles, changed the timeline yada yada yada. I’m sure we thought we were were being very clever. [laughs]
NR: Which were the literary characters that first gave you the burning desire to act?
LC: I grew up watching Steve Martin movies just wanting to be Steve Martin
NR: John Belushi for me. Greta - the lead role you play in The Boy is an American coming to England to work as a Nanny. In the TV series Chuck your character Vivian Volkoff is British. Your own trans-Atlantic childhood must have allowed for some range in the roles you take, but what nationality if any do you consider yourself?
LC: I recently heard it said best - it’s like asking to choose between a mother and a father.
NR: A long time ago you shot a film with Heath Ledger Casanove, your first ever feature. What are you memories of the man?
LC: So joyful. Heath was like a kid at play. I remember shooting scenes and him running back and forth between the set and the monitors, thinking of a million different ways he could make it better, more funny.
NR: Are there any lessons in the well-trod path from TV superstardom to feature film?
LC: Good question, Norman! No great lessons…well, maybe just to take this .. the way we work together everywhere I go.
Photographers: James Wright and Toby Knott
Stylist: Ashley Furnival
Hair: Derek Yuen
Make Up: Toby Fleischman @ TMG
Top: Pari Desai; Pants: Shaina Mote