The Walking Dead season 7 (opens in new tab) is a little way off yet (October 23) but the boxset for season 6 is out today, so I've been talking to Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, about the challenges of working with zombies.
Obviously with that huge cliffhanger ending for S6 one thing I was curious about was how she deals with people asking for spoilers? "It’s pretty easy if I just unanimously say ‘no comment’", she tells me. "I think in previous years when I could allude a little bit it’s almost harder because you don’t have a zero tolerance policy. We went to Comic-Con and we just let Scott Gimple, our show runner, do much of the talking. We talk about what has happened but we don’t want to spoil it for the fans".
As well as spoilers, one thing the show's really well known for is buckets of gore. The actors can spend multiple episodes covered in hideous stuff. Does it ever get too much? "Weirdly enough you get used to it," she replies. "You make sure you wash your hands when you go and eat, and you otherwise forget about it.
"That’s what fun about the show. We have times when you’re really clean that make you crave the mess and the battle and the war gore. And then you have to do it in the sun for weeks at a time and you get excited about tactical discussions on air conditioned stages".
Where the stress does creep in however is the constant emotional toll from the performances. "You have to go so deeply to the level that you let it all out and just accept you’re going to be a bit tired" Lauren explains. "It’s stressful but then you have to let it all go. It’s weirdly liberating".
Fortunately everyone gets along which makes the job easier: "I think if we felt like we went through that tension and that stress and then there were any other weird politics at work you’d feel drained. But it’s like playing sports. We all get on the field together and win lose we completely exhaust ourselves and went through it together".
One thing I was curious about was just how much warning she gets about bad things happening (Laurie Holden, who played Andrea, has reportedly claimed she only found out about her death the night before!). How clued in are the actors on what's coming? "We know in vague term what’s happening in each episode and we know if we’re going to lose someone. You know it’s going to happen. There are certain scripts you put off reading because you don’t want to think about it". Even with warning it's still never easy. "The 'loss scripts' are the ones you don’t want to read in one sitting," Lauren says. "It’s hard. You go there. Your heart and your brain go there as soon as you start reading it".
The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season is available on Blu-ray™ and DVD from 26th September 2016, courtesy of Entertainment One.