Lauren Cohan On Her Decision To Leave ‘The Walking Dead’ — And Why She May Return

While the current season of “The Walking Dead” will be the final one for star Andrew Lincoln, he’s not the only actor exiting the zombie-apocalypse drama.

Following him out the door is Lauren Cohan, who’s portrayed feisty Maggie Greene since the first season, and she opened up about her decision to leave in a candid interview with Entertainment Weekly.

“So much of it is really simple because eight years is a long time to spend in one character,” the 36-year-old actress tells EW. “Eight years is a long time to spend in the emotional mash-up that Maggie’s in and that Lauren is in by virtue of osmosis. I honestly just was looking at this on a multitude of personal levels, and it just made the most sense for me to do this.”

RELATED: Lauren Cohan Sheds Some Light On Her ‘Walking Dead’ Contract Dispute

However, she says that money also played a factor, admitting she was “surprised” by how stressful she found her contract negotiations for the ninth season.

“And I took that, how baffled I was, and thought, ‘OK, well that’s a sign. This is maybe just not a fit anymore.’ To feel like we weren’t lining up in so many ways I just thought, ‘OK, well, maybe that means something,'” she adds.

“But in my personal life, as well as in my career, I always end up being really appreciative of things exactly as they turned out,” she explains. “Because as an actor and as an artist, you’re bringing your sensitivity to your job, but I need to be able to flip the switch and just look at this in a professional way. I felt like in order to be my own guardian angel I had to put on a business head to protect the personal side of me.”

RELATED: Lauren Cohan Will Leave ‘The Walking Dead’ After 6 Episodes Of New Season

She explains that “depersonalizing” her salary negotiations feels like a sign of “maturation” for her, “and the end lesson has been knowing that that’s a part of life. I have had the best part of my life on the show, and the show has given me opportunities that I think we all dream of having as an actor, and it was just time to move on,” continues Cohan, who will be seen at midseason in ABC’s espionage dramedy “Whiskey Cavalier” opposite Scott Foley.

“And, on a personal level, I have had the time to build deep lasting friendships with people that I will never lose,” she adds. “That’s something I think has nudged me into this next venue of exploration, which is a new show, a new genre, and a new direction.”

Meanwhile, Cohan isn’t closing the door on a return to “The Walking Dead”, more or less confirming her character’s exit will not be a fatal one.

RELATED: Lauren Cohan Joins ‘Whiskey Cavalier’ Amid Confusion Of Her Return To ‘The Walking Dead’

“I think that we like finality, and it’s almost because of how much I like finality that I’m forcing myself not to have it and I’m forcing myself not to give it, because it wouldn’t be sincere. Any kind of guarantee that I could give could not be sincere to the fans, to my ‘Walking Dead’ family, to myself,” she says.

“And I ironically got more excited about Maggie’s story these episodes than I have been about Maggie’s story in three or four years,” adds Cohan. “And still I think it was the right decision because it feels really good for it to be so rich. I really just feel like we went on this awesome adventure for season 9, and that kind of fills me up. It also leaves her ever more interestingly open for more stories than she’s ever been.”

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