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The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden on Sex Scenes, Thongs, and Angry Fans

Like Sarah Wayne Callies before her, Laurie Holden has taken a beating from all corners of The Walking Dead fan base, the most vocal of whom can never seem to find a reason to root for any of the show’s women. “I’ve heard it from all over,” says a frustrated Holden, whose character Andrea spent the first half of this season sleeping with the Governor while blissfully unaware of his homicidal tendencies. “I always want to tell them to be patient! It’s complicated storytelling,” she said. “Of course they’re angry that this woman who they were all rooting for at the end of season two, beloved in the comic books, fell for the sociopathic villain of the piece.” Fortunately for the actress, Andrea learned the truth in last night’s episode and came pretty close to what some might call redeeming the character. Vulture spoke to Holden about dealing with the show’s angrier fans, their complaints about her sexy underwear, and what she thinks of showrunner Glen Mazzara’s abrupt exit.

What have you been hearing from fans about Andrea and the Governor? 
They’ll be like, “You need to get away from that guy.” And I’ll go, “Okay, I know, I know.” I’ve heard it all. I hear it at the gas station, I hear it at the Coffee Bean. I hear it walking down the street and through friends of friends.

It’s not as though the Governor [played by David Morrissey] isn’t a sexy guy. He is!
He is pretty charming. There’s a few things people don’t seem to understand: Andrea did not know what the audience has known. People will say, “Yes, but he kept Penny in a closet.” And I say, “Well, Hershel kept his wife and family in a barn. Andrea sat over her dead sister for two days.” The rules have changed. Everyone’s grieving and there are those people who still believe the human soul is still trapped in these monsters.

Why do you think Andrea didn’t kill the Governor at the end of the episode? Aside from the fact that we’ve got several more episodes to go this season.
To clarify, it has nothing to do with love. Andrea was a human-rights lawyer prior to the apocalypse. She has killed a lot of zombies. She has never, ever killed a human being. And it’s one thing to kill someone in self-defense; it’s another to kill them while they’re sleeping. And then there’s Dale, who was a huge influence in Andrea’s life. He’s like her guardian angel, and I think that every step Andrea takes, she’s always thinking about honoring Dale, whose thing was “You just don’t kill people.” As a former lawyer, you’re going to see her try for reason and peace and no bloodshed.

I did love how Carol just came out and said Andrea needed to give the Governor the best night of his life so she could kill him in his sleep.
That was fantastic. [Laughs.] Carol’s got some great zingers this year.

I laughed, in a good way. Was it funny to hear it at the table read?
Well, we don’t have table reads anymore because the scripts are fast and furious, and we just kind of get them and run. But I remember that my reaction to reading it in the script was shell-shocked, which is kind of Andrea’s reaction, too. First of all, look who’s saying it.

Right.
Like, wow, she’s changed. But also, that’s a tall order. I’m sure fans are furious that I didn’t. [Laughs.]

Andrea has pretty much been the star of her own show in Woodbury. What was it like being separated from the other regulars?
I missed them, but we’re very close off set, so I actually was able to have more fun with them. We were just excited to see each other on the weekends and at dinners. We’d also have these little wars in the makeup trailer. I’d put up a picture of me and the Governor and they’d write on it, mean things that I cannot even repeat in this interview, but we’d basically communicate through the mirrors in the makeup and hair trailers. When the honeymoon was over in Woodbury, I did definitely want to get back to the prison. It was like life imitating art.

Including in last night’s episode, you’ve had to get naked for a few intimate scenes with the Governor. What are the challenges that come with that? It’s not like True Blood, where everyone loses their clothes at some point.
They talked to me beforehand because I’ve never … well, I can’t say never, but I haven’t done anything like that in a long time. And it was really risky for the show because, you’re right, we don’t do that on The Walking Dead. But Mazzara brought up a good point, which is, you know, people have sex. You can kill zombies and show all this brutality, but where are all the people hooking up? Because that’s what they would do.

It’s true.
It’s so true. So I think it was shocking, but it’s also realistic because at the end of the day, when the world is falling apart, you would seek comfort in someone else’s arm.

Were you comfortable?
I felt comfortable in the sense that David is a perfect gentleman and the crew, they’re like my brothers, so I didn’t feel like anybody was gawking at me. But you know, I’m not going to lie. I’m a woman. It’s a little daunting to know you’re going to take off your clothes and 16 million people are going to see it. It’s not a normal day at the office.

The ratings are huge.
So huge! But here’s another example of how you cannot win on this show! So many people have asked me about Andrea’s thong, like they had a problem with it.

What do they ask about the thong?
They’re like, “How did you get a thong?” To which I’ll say, “I’m in Woodbury. They probably raided Neiman Marcus or wherever.” But if I had worn granny panties with holes in it, I just know the backlash on the Internet would have been through the roof. You’re upset about a thong? Think about the alternative.

How did you feel about the news that you guys were getting a new showrunner? Again!
I’m not really at liberty to talk about that, but I can say that I think that Glen will be happier on a different show. And I think we’re also in excellent hands with Scott Gimple, who is a very creative person with wonderful ideas. I think everyone’s going to be okay.

But was there a feeling of “Here we go again,” another period of readjustment?
This is the second time this has happened, and yeah, hopefully the third time’s the charm. I won’t lie: It’s very upsetting when the captain of the ship leaves and then there’s a new one. But the beauty of our show is that the actors and the crew, everyone is so dedicated and so good at what they do that I think it’ll be around for a long time. 

Photo: Getty Images