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Look who’s walking Walking Dead's Lauren Cohen ready to slay final season of smash hit series

Final zombie showdown series lands on Disney+

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Maggie kills one of the Walkers.

Maggie kills one of the Walkers.

Maggie kills one of the Walkers.

She’s one of TV’s top zombie slayers, the star of the series that smashed viewership records and entranced Irish audiences for over a decade.

Little wonder, then, that Lauren Cohan and her co-stars are feeling emotional as the final series of The Walking Dead prepares to come to an epic finale.

Set after the onset of a worldwide zombie apocalypse as humans do battle with Walkers and other creatures who want to eat them, it’s one of those rare series that has held audiences for more than a decade.

And as she takes a break from filming the final series in the US to chat with the Sunday World on Zoom, Cohan says she and her co-stars are feeling emotional at the prospect of saying goodbye.

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Lauren says she’s excited about what’s next in her career.

Lauren says she’s excited about what’s next in her career.

Lauren says she’s excited about what’s next in her career.

“All the different feelings take turns and it all gets to feed the show where we are right now - the idea of saying goodbye to things and needing to compartmentalise and keep moving forward and stay on mission,” she said.

“We’re about halfway through this behemoth season. It’s been just indescribable to see the evolution of everybody and to play the evolution of Maggie.”

The final season will see an extended 24 episodes to be shown exclusively on Disney+ from next week through to early 2022.

Cohen’s Maggie is central to the opening episodes of the new series, which sees her and other survivors returning to Alexandria from a crucial mission to find food, as she realises they haven’t enough to survive and suggests a new plan.

Having to carry out basic tasks while a hungry zombie army roams is part of the appeal of the series, based on the bestselling comic books from Robert Kirkman, she said. “I think that’s kind of the magic of the show, that what seems like a simple mission — Kirkman said this right at the beginning — is your character is going out to get a pint of milk, but they actually on the way have to make it through an army of the dead!”

Describing the show as “like a military operation” over a decade into its first airing, she added that special effects and make-up artists even have varying types of zombie blood and gore to use on the faces and bodies of fleeing humans.

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Lauren Cohen as Maggie in The Walking Dead

Lauren Cohen as Maggie in The Walking Dead

Lauren Cohen as Maggie in The Walking Dead

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“We have about six different types of dirt and blood that looks fresh and sticky and blood that won’t wash off when you know you have many takes to do. It is a lot harder than it looks to make those things real and to have them feel real to us too.

“Our team are the unsung heroes that paint us into the wild and it’s so essential. There isn’t any one thing on this show you could take away and have it be the show. Giving it all these layers and letting you guys when you’re watching us feel like you’re there — the heat and the sweat and the sun and the blood and the stickiness. I want you to feel that too not because misery loves company, but because it’s part of the experience — you come on the ride.”

As the formidable Maggie, Cohan has slayed her fair share of zombies in all sorts of imaginative ways. But she said the early kills — when humans have to first figure out what works — were among her favourites.

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While bowing out as Maggie will be bittersweet, Lauren is looking forward to taking on new roles.

While bowing out as Maggie will be bittersweet, Lauren is looking forward to taking on new roles.

While bowing out as Maggie will be bittersweet, Lauren is looking forward to taking on new roles.

“I think nothing beats the first time that the characters have to learn to [kill] when we get to the prison and we have to take out a bunch of Walkers.

“As time has gone on, you just have to sort of make way. You hold back the tide to try to buy yourself some time. That’s what these have become. But the fun ones, they feel so brutal now thinking of the violence.”

While bowing out as Maggie will be bittersweet, she is looking forward to taking on new roles. “There’s just endless directors I want to work with and writers I want to work with. Maybe some downtime, but there’s just so much cool stuff to do. I can’t not think about pursuing those things.”

Top new telly shot in Ireland

As the first eight episodes of The Walking Dead land for Irish fans on Disney+ tomorrow, there are several major new series to look forward to in the autumn - including several that were shot on these shores.

In September, big-scale sci-fi series Foundation — shot in Limerick’s Troy Studios — will debut on Apple TV.

The show centres around groups of humans living in planets scattered around the galaxy and stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace and Lou Loubell. At the height of its production in the Irish studios over the past year, over 500 cast and crew were working on the series.

Vikings: Valhalla will come to Netflix later this autumn and is a spinoff of the hugely successful Vikings series which filmed for several years in Co Wicklow.

Also shot on location in Wicklow, this new take will be set about 100 years after the events in the preceding show. Vikings creator Michael Hirst returns with a new cast and promises plenty for fans to look forward to.

“Jeb Stuart, a truly wonderful writer, will bring new story-lines and a powerful visceral vision to stories about some of the most famous Vikings known to history,” said Hirst. Netflix has ordered 24 episodes of the series.

Irish-produced crime series Kin has also been attracting early buzz ahead of its arrival to RTÉ this autumn. Starring Aidan Gillen, Clare Dunne, Charlie Cox and Ciaran Hinds, it centres on a Dublin crime family faced with a bloody reckoning for their actions. Filmed on location in Dublin, the series has already generated strong interest and will broadcast to numerous countries internationally.

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