Q&A: Laurie Holden of 'The Walking Dead'
Actress discusses Andrea and Michonne and the reunion with her old friends
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."
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.
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.
What'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.
People 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.
Did 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.
That'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.
I 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.