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Q&A: Laurie Holden of 'The Walking Dead'

Actress discusses Andrea and Michonne and the reunion with her old friends

By Mekeisha Madden Toby Nov 9, 2012 1:10PM

'The Walking Dead' '/' AMC

Andrea is a warrior.


So it's cool to see her (Laurie Holden) team up with Michonne (Danai Gurira), a woman who also refuses to be a victim on AMC's addictive zombie drama, "The Walking Dead."


Bing: More on 'The Walking Dead' | Laurie Holden


The Cagney & Lacey or Thelma & Louise -- depending on your point of reference -- of the zombie apocalypse, the two survived a harsh winter and now have to deal with the all-too-perfect world of the Governor (David Morrissey) and Woodbury.


Plus: 10 dead shows we'd revive | Fall mid-season report card


To make matters more complicated, Michonne doesn't trust the Governor but Andrea does. And their already fragile friendship will be further tested when Andrea reunites with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang.


Holden, 42, sat down and talked to MSN TV about Andrea's past and future and how exhaustion, bruises and dislocated ribs are all a part of a day's work. "The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.


MSN TV: Is Andrea angry with the group for not coming back and finding her?

Laurie Holden: Well, it's like any relationship. It's like a breakup where the other person doesn't leave a note. She doesn't know if they thought she was dead. She doesn't know if they had a search party. I feel like Michonne and Andrea went back to the highway and waited for a week, because that's what we did with Sophia (Madison Lintz). I think they waited and waited. And she really doesn't know the truth. Her higher self would like to believe that they did come looking for her because they were her friends. That will all be revealed.


'Andrea TWD' '/' AMCWhat's it feel like to play Andrea in this headspace? Is it like playing a new character?

It's more like a different part of who she is. I'm really grateful for the writing because my character has been on such a tremendous journey. I'm grateful that I didn't start off as the badass Andrea is in the comic books. I like the fact that she was suicidal and had no will to live and then got really angry and bratty. She went through a selfish time, as you do when you have lost everything, and have lost all hope. But then for her to come out of that and say, "You know what? I don't want to be a victim anymore. I want to be a survivor. And I can care about other people," was great. She was a human rights lawyer prior to the apocalypse. I love how she got it together because it's such a testament to what we can do. You hit rock bottom and then pick yourself up out of it. There are so many more challenges ahead for Andrea but she will never be in the place that she was when she lost Amy (Emma Bell). She's a stronger woman now.


Can you talk about the off-screen relationship between you and Danai Gurira and how that affects what we see on screen?

I met (Danai) and we had to establish the closest of bonds and we were best friends right off the get go. It was literally like I had a cup of coffee with her and then it was like, "Go!" So, that's really tricky. But luckily, we have so much in common. And she's just such an easy person to be around. She's an artist and an incredible writer. And we just chose -- because we really adore each other -- to spend all of our time together off the set and so we really became Andrea and Michonne. We were both like, "God, I like you," and it makes the work so much easier. 


'Andrea and Michonne' '/' AMCPeople are going to -- if they haven't started to already  -- call you two the Thelma & Louise of the zombie world. Can you talk about how important it is to see women with this kind of friendship on TV?

I think it's important in life. I went to an all girls' school my whole life and I have the same best friends I had when I was 12. I think women are amazing and women's friendships are like a sisterhood and we should see more of it in television and film. I find it bizarre that I get asked questions that immediately go to the sexual. I've been asked that so many times. If Andrea and Michonne are close, it must be a romantic relationship. Not that there's anything wrong with that but it really is a pure, best friendship between two women who love each other like family.


That's unfortunate that you've been asked that a number of times. Do you think it's part of the fan-boy fantasy?

I think it's part of the 13-year-old fantasy. At the beginning of the season, I sat down in the writers' room and they were toying with that idea. And I said to them, "I don't have a problem with it but I think it's a cliché." I think we need to see two women love each other as best friends and not muddy the waters. Andrea's already been established as a kitten with her Hyundai experience with Shane (Jon Bernthal).


That was liberating. It was also liberating when Andrea told Lori she wasn't washing dishes and she wasn't washing clothes.

Women love that. I loved that episode and women still come up to me and say, "Thank you." I thought it was the perfect scene for the characters of Andrea and Lori. I'm a huge fan of Sarah Wayne Callies' work. I think she was really the perfect Lori Grimes. But they're two different women. They were two different women prior to the apocalypse and they're two different women now. Lori was an alpha female who was a homemaker. She was an amazing wife and an amazing mother. Andrea was a human rights lawyer. She wasn't married, didn't have kids. She was out in the workforce trying to survive. I don't think Andrea knows how to do dishes and she probably can't cook. She was probably getting takeout all the time. But I think that both of them had really, really valid points. And that's why I love that scene. Nobody was really right or wrong. We were both right.


'Andrea with a gun' '/' AMCDid you have to go through special training for this role?

I love shooting guns. On "The Shield," I played an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent. I was with Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) so I always had my gun. And in "Silent Hill," I was a cop with a gun. So I've had weapons training in the past. The tricky thing at the beginning of Season 1 was to pretend that I didn't. But there's still so much to learn. There's a Navy SEAL that I work with in the backwoods of Georgia and he puts me through obstacle courses. It's really important because I think it's a key element that defines Andrea. She's the sharpshooter of "The Walking Dead." I have to honor the material.


Is it cool being an action hero?

I'm really athletic as is Danai. I swim almost every day. I never really think of Andrea as an action hero. I just think of her as a sporty girl because she has a heart. There's so much to her. She just happens to be physically resourceful and great with a gun. Is she an action hero?


Yeah. She kicks butt and doesn't wait for anyone to save her.

'Andrea TWD attack' '/' AMCThat's true. My action figure is coming out next year. And by the way, that scene in the second-season finale was the hardest day of all time. Do you remember in the finale when I was running through the woods? The call sheet said, "Andrea's woods." And we shot all of that in one day – from the crack of dawn to the end of the day – running. I'm not a runner. I do not like running. I love to swim. I love to surf. I do not like to run. Those were the real woods. That was me running. There was no stunt double and it was 14 hours of, "Do it again." Running, running, running. Clobber zombie. Running, running, running. And it's so funny. People are like, "You're such a good actress. You really nailed that exhaustion." And I'm like, "Oh, yeah. It was real." I was on my last limb by the end of the day. So it was actually perfectly scheduled because it was an authentic journey for Andrea as it was for me, the actress playing it.


How do you recover from something like that?

Go see your mom who fixes you soup. Stay in bed. Get a massage. We all just appreciate our down time because it's just restorative. We're all such tomboys. We feel like we haven't earned our stripes if we're not kind of hurt in some way. We've all been in and out of the hospital in some capacity.



For real. It's just kind of the nature of what you do. You can't really put yourself out there, as hard as we do physically, and not be bruised in some capacity. Do you remember in Season 2 when I was killing the zombie in the trailer?


Yes. Great scene.

'Andrea trailer' '/' AMCI love that scene too. We shot that in this trailer and the zombie I was shooting with was very slender and I'm not the biggest girl and we still were having a hard time. I don't even know how that was Dale's (Jeffrey DeMunn) RV. How is any human being going to live in that RV? So I shot the scene and I thought, "God, I'm having problems breathing." But then I thought I was just exhausted or it was the humidity. And I went and got checked out and they were like, "You have four ribs that are completely out of place." And they had to pop them back in. But part of me was proud of it because I was like, "I killed a zombie."



"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.

Mar 18, 2013 7:53PM
It's a damn shame Laurie Holden vetoed the Michonne/Andrea pairing, because those two had real chemistry and I really thought there was something going on. Well, everyone I know is pretty sick of Andrea this season, some to the extent that they want to see her character dead by the finale (not gonna happen, I'm pretty sure, but it's what I've been hearing). If Laurie wanted to have a good, long run on TWD, she should've grabbed onto Xena's old fanbase and ran with it, IMO, because Andrea doesn't have a great deal of supporters at the moment and most of the ones I'm seeing are lesbians hoping for a good depiction of a lesbian relationship on the show. If these hurtful comments make their way into the ears of Andrea's biggest supporters, her detractors (much more numerous, from what I've read in most discussion forums) may get what they want and see a sloppy Andrea death scene next season. Then again, maybe she's been noticed on TWD, and is getting offered other projects which she'd like to do but are conflicting with her schedule. In that case, she understands everything I've explained and made the comments on purpose to free herself from contract.
Nov 13, 2012 1:24PM
In a world where we fight every day to try and make the LGBTQ community appear as normal.  When we try and push for our community to be represented in the media in a positive light, the way this interview was conducted and the answers given disgust me.

My relationship with my partner is NOT a "13 year-old fantasy" , it is not a "cliché", and it most certainly is "pure".

Can't quite stress enough how sick this has made me feel.
Nov 13, 2012 9:46AM
I love Laurie Holden and The Walking Dead, so thank you for the interview and all the lovely facts. What bothers me about it, however, is that it seems choppy: the transitions are weak and forced and I think that leaves some of the things said up for misinterpretation. 

Why is being asked that so "unfortunate"? Are people being rude about it? Please, elaborate. Because wanting two strong characters who actually happen to have chemistry to get together is far from unfortunate and waaay far from a "fan-boy fantasy". How do you go from "kitten" to liberating? Oh, yeah, I know, that's what happens when you want to stick a question where it doesn't exactly fit. 
Nov 12, 2012 10:34PM
I love Laurie but some of her comments here are hurtful and upsetting. I wonder if she's aware that many of her fans, myself included, are young lesbian/bisexual women and that comments like this are a good way to make us feel alienated by someone we look up to. I'm totally with the below commenter. Reducing lesbian romance to a 'cliche', a '13-year-old fantasy', and something the ruin the '''purity'''' of a friendship (because, you know, same-sex couples are inherently obscene and more sexual than hetero ones right?) is not okay. I really hope I'm just misinterpreting here but it's still upsetting. Of course, the interviewer's comment about being "unfortunate" didn't help either....

 I mean, I totally get if some strange men are going up and asking sexual questions about Andrea and Michonne - believe me, no one hates that more than lesbian/bi women themselves. But to some of us, it would have meant so much to see a romantic relationship between them, not because we want to see them get it on, but because because people like us are rarely ever represented in the media (and when they are, their entire existence is based on their sexuality). and because there is such great chemistry between these two women. 
The bond they have is already so remarkable, why not take it to the next level? I don't see how its a cliche; it's basically the opposite of a cliche. I'm willing to bet you see platonic sisterly friendships between women portrayed far, far more often than romantic ones.
It wouldn't ruin the purity of their relationship either. If anything, their relationship would be more pure than a lot of hetero couples on this show, like Glenn and Maggie who basically only got together after having several sexual encounters. I'm sorry, I just don't want to hear about purity when a lot of hetero relationships on this show are anything but 'pure'. I just don't get why the slightest brush with homosexuality suddenly ruins the purity in something... I'm so sick of this attitude being perpetuated. 

I'm not saying it necessarily needs to happen - just explaining why some of us who aren't just perverted men may are on board with the idea of a relationship between these two. And like I said, I'm a fan of Laurie's, she seems like a genuinely sweet, good person. But I wish she'd be more conscious of her LGBT fans and apologize for this.
Nov 12, 2012 7:50PM
It is a huge disappointment to see all this lesbophobia from an actor that I am a huge fan off.  Please tell me this is a mistake and Laurie Holden did not call a lesbian romance "cliched" or a "13 year olds fantasy."  We need more representation! Not less!! And lesbian sexuality and love is not a silly fantasy it is our REAL everyday life!
Nov 12, 2012 7:20PM
Wow, how wonderful to see homophobia alive and well on MSN. Thank you Laurie for trivializing all lesbian stories as "13 year old boy" fantasies. And thank you equally horrid *journalist* for agreeing. This article disappoints me and completely changes my view on Laurie Holden as an individual. 
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