Lauren Cohan found herself in a pickle. She’d landed a role on a hit TV show and very quickly became one of its most popular stars. But, after a decade of work on the show, Cohan wasn’t being paid as well as her Walking Dead co-stars, Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus. When the time came to negotiate her contract, Cohan played a card she’d tucked up her sleeve: she let Hollywood know she was willing to do other TV shows.
Because Lauren Cohan is an absolute star, loved not only by fans, but also by Hollywood executives and casting agents, she was snapped up quickly to headline the great new spy comedy-drama Whiskey Cavalier (which is streaming now at SBS On Demand).
Lauren Cohan isn’t just an actor on The Walking Dead. She is a fan favourite. Cohan sparked attention from viewers when she first appeared during the second season of the hit show. As actors were shed from its cast (the series is famous for losing characters to death and/or zombie bites), Cohan became increasingly important. After all, she was one of the few characters viewers knew would still be there week to week.
When Cohan appears at fan conventions for The Walking Dead, people go crazy for her. Part of why they love her is because she makes an effort to let them know how important they are to her. When asked about why The Walking Dead is often overlooked for awards, Cohan told The Independent: “I’d rather have the validation of people and the fans, and I know how much the show moves people – and how it moves me – so I don’t need those things.”
The Walking Dead, a show that pulled in 17 million viewers a week at its peak, is still one of the biggest TV shows on the planet – and Cohan is one of the reasons why it continues to be so popular. The pay disparity was obviously an issue for her, but she was very careful not to come across as hostile with the Walking Dead production team. As she told SMH: “I want to be clear that I’m not bashing the show or anyone on it but I don’t want to hide what I did either. It was just time to say that gender shouldn’t matter when you have this group of kick-ass people all doing the same work.”
Frankly, for fans, it means we’re able to watch her in a fun new series. In Whiskey Cavalier, Cohan stars as CIA agent Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge, code named Fiery Tribune. Frankie is teamed up with an FBI agent played by Scott Foley as they embark on missions to save the world. It’s a fun, throwback series that leans heavily on the sizzling chemistry between Cohan and Foley.
Whiskey Cavalier works because of the charisma of its stars. In his review for the show, The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg was drawn to their chemistry and noted just how much the show allows Cohan to stretch herself and reveal more of her potential on screen: “[Foley]’s a lovable puppy dog, while Cohan gets to play something pricklier and more feline. After years of being marginalized and wasted on The Walking Dead, she really breaks out here and gets to enjoy being slinky and snarky and vicious.”
With the 13-episode Whiskey Cavalier run now finished, Cohan is back on The Walking Dead where she presumably got a pay bump. Cohan’s time away from the show gave us an opportunity to watch her have a tremendous amount of fun on the action-adventure-fuelled Whiskey Cavalier where we can enjoy watching her kicking ass and charming her way across the screen. It’s the best of both worlds for Lauren Cohan and her fans.
Whiskey Cavalier is streaming now at SBS On Demand:
Renée Zellweger joins us on this week's show, to talk about how she transformed herself into Hollywood icon Judy Garland, for the film 'Judy'. In her chat with Fiona, Zellweger discusses what she hopes the film will reveal about Garland's legacy, not least the high price she paid for becoming a Movie Star during the dawning Golden Age of Hollywood. In this episode we welcome back special guest host John Beohm (SBS Viceland channel manager) to sit in for Ben (who is away at a TV content market, finding great shows to bring to SBS in the future), and talk about the revelation that is 'Years and Years', a very relatable dystopic family drama that is coming to SBS in November.