When actress Lauren Cohan took on the role of Maggie Greene/Rhee in AMC’s The Walking Dead, she became an icon. For eight years Cohan WAS Maggie. And then suddenly she vanished from the show.
Fans were left flatfooted, wondering what had happened. Now, though, after a mysterious absence Lauren Cohan is returning to The Walking Dead. Here’s what happened: How she ended up on The Walking Dead, why she suddenly left, and why she’s back now.
LAUREN COHAN BEFORE MAGGIE
The acting life for Lauren Cohan before The Walking Dead shambled into her career was a work in progress. Her feature film debut came in 2005 when she starred as Sister Beatrice in the Heath Ledger-led movie Casanova, the story about the legendary and fabled romantic Giacomo Casanova. Not a big role, but a nice way to get a career started. She then moved on to another feature, this time the comedy Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj. From Taj, Cohan took a turn towards television. She then appeared in the soap The Bold and the Beautiful and from that she landed a recurring role on the TV series Supernatural.
As her role on Supernatural ended, Cohan found herself bouncing around from series to series such as Valentine (a pilot that was never picked up by a network), Life, CSI: NY, Cold Case, and even an episode of Modern Family.
In 2011, Lauren Cohan found herself still trying to find that one big part. She sorta found it on Chuck in another recurring role. She tried her hand at another pilot, this one called Heavenly about a young female attorney (Cohan) who gets help from an angel who recently turned human. No, this one didn’t get picked up either. As luck would have it though, things would go from bad to dead for the actress.
LAUREN COHAN ON THE WALKING DEAD
Lauren Cohan knew that when she was cast for the role of Maggie Greene in The Walking Dead (TWD) that it would be a big one. Any fan of the comic knew that too, so the actress had a lot to live up to.
Of course, there were many differences between the comic book character and the TV series character, much of it revolving around how the storylines played out. In the comic, Maggie was the second daughter of seven to Herschel, her father. In the series, she was the eldest to her sister Beth. The TV storylines from there only resemble the comics as more of a blueprint as the series writers made many changes, some that truly enraged fans of the comics. But Maggie had a relationship with Glenn in both the series and comics and Glenn’s fate is ultimately the same in both.
Lauren Cohan first appeared as Maggie in season two of The Walking Dead. She was surviving on a family farm with her father Herschel and sister Beth, while hiding a brutal secret in their barn. It was during this season where Maggie and Glenn began to forge their relationship. The two go into town to look for supplies as well as a pregnancy test for Lori, Rick Grimes wife. But Lori makes Glenn swear to secrecy, so when he is caught by Maggie, he instead grabs a box of condoms as a cover. Maggie sees it as an opportunity as she then seduces Glenn. They end up having sex, starting their ultimately tragic relationship.
During her years as Maggie, she was forced to play each and every emotion. From tough to timid, funny to quite serious, Lauren Cohan took her role and shaped it. She became an integral part of the cast, a main player in an ensemble that could see main characters leave at just about any time, especially in their big season finales.
Such was the case when Glenn took the brunt of Negan’s Lucille. In what was the most heartbreaking and violent scene in the series, a series known for its gratuitous violent nature, Cohan’s Maggie had to watch as Negan beat Glenn’s head into a pulp with his trusty baseball bat. It’s a scene that will forever be burned into every TWD fan’s memory with Cohan’s ability to reach the emotional depths she had to in her reaction to the brutal beating were simply wrenching.
WHY LAUREN COHAN LEFT THE WALKING DEAD
Lauren Cohan chose to jump to something called Whiskey Cavalier. It was her chance to be a true lead in a TV series. A chance to leave her Maggie behind. A chance to find some light and fun instead of dread and fear. So, she took the chance. After eight years playing Maggie, Lauren Cohan decided it was time to move on. But why?
First and foremost, Cohan’s contract was up with the series. She entered into negotiations and things did not go as planned, on both sides. Lauren explained to EW her thought process during contract talks, “I kind of felt in some ways surprised, to be honest with you. And I took that, how baffled I was, and thought, “Okay, well that’s a sign. This is maybe just not a fit anymore.” To feel like we weren’t lining up in so many ways I just thought, “Okay, well, maybe that means something.” But in my personal life, as well as in my career, I always end up being really appreciative of things exactly as they turned out. Because as an actor and as an artist, you’re bringing your sensitivity to your job, but I need to be able to flip the switch and just look at this in a professional way. I felt like in order to be my own guardian angel I had to put on a business head to protect the personal side of me.”
Things did not work out so Cohan took her ball and went home, so to speak. Whiskey Cavalier was brought to her and she made the move. Maybe it was financial, maybe it was just simply growing a bit tired of playing the same role for eight years. More than likely it was a bit of both. But jump Lauren Cohan did and she gave it a good run. Fans, unfortunately, weren’t having any of it and Whiskey Cavalier lasted but one season.
THE RETURN OF MAGGIE
Maggie is back on The Walking Dead. “It’s completely surreal,” Cohan said at the New York Comic-Con. “It feels just like home. It feels so emotional. It feels really, really emotional. I feel like this is a very special Comic-Con and a very special family and I’m really happy to be here.”
Fans were delighted. AMC is delighted. The cast is delighted. Most importantly, Lauren Cohan is delighted. She told fans in a Q & A on the AMC website, “I’m so excited to surprise the fans. I know we left Maggie Rhee up in the air and I can’t wait to bring this to them. I’ve always been a big fan of surprises. My family lives between England and America, so my whole life is about how to make an elaborate plan and not spoil it. [Laughs] I’m really happy. Angela [Kang], Scott [M. Gimple] and I have been talking about how we could make this work and everything just aligned. I’m super excited to see what this next chapter of Maggie will be.”
It was season 9, episode 5 that we last saw Lauren Cohan as Maggie. This was also the episode fans last saw Rick Grimes. Her departure was a quiet one with not much fanfare or explanation. We found out eventually that Maggie had left Hilltop to join another (Georgie’s) group. As her character was thankfully not killed off, it meant the opportunity for a Lauren Cohan return was still in place. Yes, folks, Maggie is back. Watch for Lauren Cohan on the next season of The Walking Dead.