One might think that, after spending most of the year playing a woman living in constant fear on "The Walking Dead," Lauren Cohan would want to take a break and do some comedy -- or even go on vacation -- during her "summer" hiatus. But for Cohan, the script for an intriguing project called "The Boy" meant that this year's "Dead" hiatus was all about a creepy doll, a potentially haunted house, and a horror that would make even Maggie Greene lose some of her token level-headed chill.
"['The Boy'] goes on this really, really disturbing unnatural journey," Cohan told MTV News over the phone. "It has some things that happen towards the end that are just twisted... it’s extremely thrilling and entertaining. I read it very quickly, I put the script down, and I thought ‘Can I handle this? After doing a year of Walking Dead, can I handle this?’ I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s my answer, then. I have to just handle it. I have to do it.’"
Judging by the trailer, Cohan made a wise choice -- the movie, which is directed by "The Devil Inside" helmer William Brent Bell, looks terrifying. It tells the story of an "all-American girl," Greta, who moves to England for a babysitting job... only once she makes that hop over the pond, her charge ends up being less "baby" and a whole lot more "doll."
"This doll puts zombies to shame," Cohan added. "No, it doesn’t really, but you know what I mean. It’s on another level, because she hears children in the house and she doesn’t know what’s real and whose alive, and the doll actually just sends her inside her own sort of psychosis in her own mind. That’s really what’s scary. We all can agree that creepy dolls are disturbing, but then what the doll actually releases in her and propels her into is what makes the film so uncomfortable and disturbing."
"Uncomfortable and disturbing" is a reality that Cohan lives in all the time in her TV life, but the actress told MTV that there was one element of Greta's journey in "The Boy" that felt very foreign to her... the isolation, which is something Maggie has been lucky enough to avoid thanks to the Grimes Gang.
"I’ve been working with people that are very grounded in reality, and doing something to survive, whereas this situation is a world that is far removed," Cohan continued. "It’s... a small town in England with a family that’s stuck in a time warp, that don’t subscribe to any social norms, or make her feel comfortable, or have her back, or have any camaraderie, which is all the things [Maggie has] with ‘Walking Dead'... your heart breaks for this family, and you see the motivation for their actions, because they’re unwilling to let go of the loss of a child.
"We had a really good time doing it as crazy as all that, as creepy and disturbing as all that sounds, but yeah. It was a whole different street in this horror scene for me," Cohan concluded.
However, now that the leaves have turned brown and the TV gods have returned, Cohan is back in full-on "Walking Dead" mode. And even though last week's season six premiere didn't feature a whole lot of butt-kicking Maggie moments, Cohan says that fans should count on a whole lot more fighter-Maggie and politician Maggie in the coming months.
"She’ll find herself needing to fight and maintain a more diplomatic side of things, too," she explained. "She’s going to veer into that side of things, the sort of Deanna road of things, and then find herself needing to do both. Responsibility is thrust upon her... but she’s not going to get rusty.
"There are actually more acute changes in this season than there have been in any season," she continued. "It will be right off the bat, at the beginning of this year, you’re going to see her biggest challenge yet. The first couple of episodes. Her ability to do the wise thing -- I think Maggie always tries to do the wise thing -- that’s going to be really tested. She’s completely backed in to a corner, and I don’t know how that speaks to optimism. We address that optimism, or that positivity of hers... we question it."
Judging from what we saw in the premiere, that challenge should come pretty soon now that there's thousands of zombies headed straight for Maggie's adopted hometown of Alexandria. And while fans of the show are all busy wondering if it was the Wolves who blew that horn -- Cohan said they're "really bad news" but that "the source of their power remains a mystery for a really long time" -- fans of Maggie and Glenn (Steven Yeun) as a couple should maybe be even more worried about the arrival of Jesus, a character who is closely tied in to the Negan storyline in Robert Kirkman's comic book series. Jesus will join "The Walking Dead" later this season, which might mean bad news for Glenn. Or not.
"The good news is that things from the comic sometimes happen and sometimes don’t," Cohan explained. "They sometimes get pushed way back, they sometimes get pulled forward or allocated to different characters... there’s uncertainty for us and our characters, but we’ve also just gotten really good at just enjoying the ride, which I’m sure is true for all of us. We know there are these inklings of [Negan], but not when he’s going to come. There’s always some element of dread for everybody, whenever a new character is introduced, and rumors of him is no exception."
This... didn't exactly assuage our fear over one of our favorite characters' brutal fate coming to life, but according to Cohan, the fact that Norman Reedus himself literally told MTV News that Glenn was going to die should maybe actually convince us that the opposite is going to happen.
"[With Norman], I think it’s like... you know when your brother knows what’s needed to wind you up, and he knows just the buttons to push, and he just can’t resist it because he gets this huge reaction?" Cohan said with a laugh. "I think it’s that... he loves it. Norman has so much fun with everything, but he does like to torture people. It’s so funny."
So if Glenn isn't going to die... does that mean we can count on him and Maggie taking on parenthood anytime soon, as many fans speculated after a throwaway line in the season premiere? Outlook hazy; try again later.
"Um, I don’t think it’s out of the question," Cohan said, quite diplomatically. "But I think they take each day as it comes."
"The Boy" hits theaters on January 22, 2016.