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‘Walking Dead’ Stars Lauren Cohan & Jeffrey Dean Morgan On Tonight’s Series Finale & Why ‘Dead City’ Spinoff Is No ‘Moonlighting’

SPOILER ALERT! This article includes details about tonight’s The Walking Deadseries finale and The Walking Dead Dead: Dead Cityspinoff that will be coming next year.

“I’ve been thinking over what you said,” Maggie Rhee tells Negan ( Lauren Cohan), in tonight’s The Walking Dead series finale. “And if you can ever forgive me.”

“I can’t forgive, even if I am so thankful you saved my son. Even though I know you’re trying,” she says to the man who brutally and gleefully beat her husband to death in the series about the zombie apocalypse based on Robert Kirkman comics. “I’m trying to forgive you, because I don’t want to hate anymore… I don’t want my son see anyone with that kind of hold over me.”

After 11 seasons of AMC horror, tonight’s Stevie Nicks-scored “Rest in Peace”, episode, served as a launchpad for at least three spinoffs. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurra) all made their return in an unexpected scene. There’s also the Maggie and Negan spinoff The Walking Dead – Dead City.

Morgan comments on the nearly completed filming of Dead City. Morgan said, “I think this spinoff is going to happen a couple years after.” The Eli Jorne series of showruns is expected to air in the first half 2023. It will be the first salvo in an expanded and evolving TWDuniverse.

As they prepare for their final goodbyes to AMC after 177 episodes, Jim Barnes, Corey Reed, and Angela Kang chatted with me.

 

DEADLINE: Lauren, after one season, you’ve been with Walking Dead from the second season in 2011. What was it like to say goodbye in this final?

COHAN It’s another thing that requires distance.

It was a great experience to capture the final scene. It was a great opportunity to capture the emotions of these characters in moments small and large. In the symbol of Rosita as a mother protecting her child and giving her life in the process, and then to have that kind of farewell with her which is so rare on the show.

I can’t give you a quick answer but I found the whole experience so rich. The final four episodes, which were the last, were completed just as we finished shooting that episode and the lead up to it. It was almost like you knew high school was ending. You’re with people you love, so it’s easy to laugh and cry with them. It has all happened before, it will all again.

DEADLINE Is it over?

COHAN We all knew that things were coming to an end for Norman and Jeff. Your head may not be able to recognize the conclusion, but your body and adrenaline might.

DEADLINE: Jeffrey, in this “Rest in Peace,” finale Negan finally said sorry to Maggie for her husband Glenn’s death (Steven Yeun), in the Season 7 opener. Was that a difficult scene for you, Negan, and you?

MORGAN It was time. Negan and Maggie, as well as Maggie, can’t have a conversation that goes anywhere. One Negan will say something silly, something snarky. Maggie will be fucked by him. I hate you. That’s just how it has been all year.

They’ve tried for a while to move forward in their relationship, this awkward truce of a couple, but it just doesn’t seem to work. I think the episode where Negan apologizes sincerely is the best scene. He has certainly learned a lot over the past year. He learned a lot recently, while he was on his knees thinking he would lose his wife and unborn baby.

 

DEADLINE Lauren. With all of us knowing Dead City will be coming, what is your take on the scene…

COHAN It was difficult to be truthful with you, because…okay, so it was a pleasure to perform the scene.

DEADLINE I didn’t expect you to say what I expected.

COHANIt’s because Jeff and I find it really enjoyable to have a conversation in this time of tension, avoidance, and passive aggression in the interactions between these characters. So, it was nice to have a conversation about the elephant in a room. Maggie is vulnerable because there’s a sense of mutual understanding.

She may hate him in some ways and keep a distance from him, but it’s not because we, as audience members, or as people, aren’t affected by it. It’s just the characters on the show. He would know the cause, but it was still powerful to see her give him that window into the hurt she is carrying, the hurt that drives all her anger and defenses against him.

It’s about going into the depths of his grief. I believe that the scene on the porch, where he offers some kind of an apology, is the best way to do that. It also shows, I believe, that we are capable of being demons. We can be demons but not even demons. Negan is a sociopath in many ways. But there are other parts to him that are so…

DEADLINE

COHAN: (LAUGHS) Yeah. It’s not easy. Even though he’s not, it’s still complicated for me. She should not have to interact with him.

MORGAN I believe Negan finally gets it all. He understands why she loves him so much. Negan is a charmer and has been able to get his way up to the next level. He has done so much to get on the side of these people, and he knows Maggie will never be his friend.

 
Photo credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

DEADLINE If you want to talk about the right side or at least the opposite side, the Dead City spinoff is coming. This will allow you to transition in real-time from one show and then another. What’s that been like?

COHAN It’s almost like filming something in sequence. It’s interesting because it’s something I felt when I left TWDin season 9 and was on ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier for its single season run before returning to TWDin season 10) and there was this unknown about when Maggie would return.

Do we ever say goodbye to characters? Especially on long-running series. It’s almost like you spend enough time with someone to know that they are there. They make up about 22% of your body.

We were both excited to go into the spinoff. However, we weren’t sure where we would start. We knew that this was a temporary resting place for the characters and their relationship, but more will be explored. Both of us were excited about it because The Walking Dead has so many characters, and we knew that we would be diving deeper into something which I find really compelling.

 

 

COHANBecause you can live with anger and resentment but still face the person who incites it most every day, your life is like such an open area for exploration.

So I was kind of excited by what wasn’t said, as the Walking Deadcame close by what is being said and the whole idea of talking about future. We even ended the show with Maggie looking somewhat hopeful. I think it’s important for us as people to remember to keep our eyes on the prize and to keep reminding ourselves of the upward trajectory that is possible. It’s difficult because the thing that is dragging you down or the lead in your heart isn’t really solved for Maggie. We’ll see the sticky situation of trying to climb the mountain, but also the demons that keep it from being able to be climbed continuously for now.

DEADLINE Jeffrey: Jeffrey. What’s the deal with Dead City ?

MORGAN A lot!

This spinoff will take place two years after the Walking Dead final. But here’s the problem – we don’t know what happens to these characters. Negan is able to fall back into his old ways during these years. He is a creature of habit and knows how to survive.

He tried to learn to adapt to the other ways of survival while he was in our group. I worry about what will happen in the next two years, and who he will be. There is a chance that Negan will not be the same person Maggie and he see when they are back together.

DEADLINE: Why?

MORGAN There’s a good chance he won’t be that guy anymore. He adapts to the environment and it can get f*cking tough. He will return to his old ways.

DEADLINE It sounds like Dead City doesn’t have anyf*cking Moonlighting .

MORGAN (LAUGHS). It’s not f*cking Moonlighting at all. Not at all.

These characters will have trouble interacting with each other. That is why I created Dead City. It was just fascinating to see two characters who hate each other and have to find a way together. We watched a bit of the last season of The Walking Dead, where they had to work together. It was amazing how snarky and short-tempered they were. Dead City is an opportunity to do that in the Nth degree. It’ll be fascinating to see.

COHAN It’s just so cool that I have to tell you. It’s a great feeling of renewal. Even after doing this for so long, we can still go into new territory emotionally and physically with the depth we are able.

Eli, our showrunner, brought this fresh perspective to give us the chance to see our characters in a new light. It’s like any good thing. It’s like having a good friend. It’s like a good friendship. It is a long-lasting relationship that grows in intensity, depth, and nuance.

This is what I think makes it so much fun. It’s also exciting to be on new terrain with new characters. Zeljko, Gaius are so wonderful. I mean, it’s been amazing to see our episodes and work with them. It’s all about what it will be and how it helps people see things differently.

DEADLINE: Jeffrey, your vocal opposition to the network’s announcement of spinoffs prior to the end was very clear. It was clear that you thought it was a mistake and it removed the drama of who lives and who dies. What are your feelings now, looking back at that?

MORGAN Dominic, I can’t lie to you that I have changed my mind. I was vocal about it and got into some trouble. But, look at the scene from the last episode. Imagine how much better it would have been if Negan had died. It’s true. You know.

It is the only way I believe it to be. Let’s keep it secret. Were we able to keep it secret for this long? It’s unlikely, but let’s give it a shot. Let’s try it. It can leak out and that’s it. But that’s my only point. It would have been nice to keep it as a surprise.

COHAN – I was thinking the same thing. It was less suspenseful than I would have preferred when the spinoffs were announced.

In some ways, I didn’t want to totally gut the audience with the finale. Maybe revealing that there’s a spinoff was another way not to completely gut them because our fans have been here for so many years. We know what’s possible in the show, and in this world. It is possible that I would have preferred it to be announced sooner. Yes. It’s okay. It’s a comforting thought. It’s a source of comfort.

DEADLINE: Scott Gimple and Angela spoke to me about the conclusion and spinoffs. They described them as one chapter ending, one beginning, one door closing and another opening. It seems like you are constantly in flux and the status quo.

MORGAN: It’s weird. Because there is an ending to the story that I am not ready to face, I haven’t been able watch it. To be completely honest, I haven’t seen the last four episodes. I have had time. They are not something I have wanted to see. I believe I needed to be in a good mood.

Norman is still my best friend. However, I am able to keep playing the character I love for seven years. But the show is what I miss. That crew is what I miss, the cast as well as the actual crew.

DEADLINE What are you missing?

MORGAN The last two years were spent with Covid. We were together all the time. The only people with whom we could have fun was this group of people. We really relied on each other. It was difficult the Covid. You know, not being capable of doing anything was hard for a lot people. We were also affected by it. Thank God that we had each other. But, who we had was this group of people who did a television program, and that meant a lot.

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