10:59pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Star Lauren Cohan: "I'm Going Back" for Season 9
Lauren Cohan's days as Maggie on AMC's The Walking Dead are not over.
The actress has confirmed that she is returning for the AMC zombie drama's upcoming ninth season, though it still remains to be determined if she will be a series regular or have a lesser role. Cohan put herself up for broadcast pilot season — booking the lead on ABC's Whiskey Cavalier — as she battled AMC over a better salary for season nine.
"I'm going back," Cohan told EW late Tuesday at CinemaCon, where she appeared to support her upcoming feature, Mile 22, with Mark Wahlberg. "There's a lot more Maggie story to tell."
Cohan, sources say, will be back for six of the eight episodes in the first half of season nine. Additional details beyond that were not immediately available.
Cohan recently signed on as the female lead in the ABC action drama pilot Whiskey Cavalier, starring opposite Scandal's Scott Foley. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the network and Whiskey producers ABC Studios were amenable to allowing the actress to return to The Walking Dead in a limited capacity to potentially close out Maggie's storyline. Cohan's comments on Tuesday help solidify her return — in some capacity. Cohan's deal for Whiskey Cavalier does leave the door open for her to return to the series on a more limited basis should she and AMC close the gap and agree to a new deal. Walking Dead typically begins production on new seasons in the spring, when most broadcast shows have already wrapped.
Of course, things could change if Whiskey does not go to series and should Cohan and AMC come to terms on a deal for the actress to return. But given the months-long negotiation that promoted Cohan to make herself available for pilots, that seems unlikely at this point. Industry standard usually dictates that actors in series-regular roles can do no more than three episodes of another show, unless another agreement is made in advance. This pilot season, many casting directors told THR that they've had to soften that policy in order to land top talent in a Peak TV era when many are juggling multiple projects. Of course, Whiskey could get picked up to series and held for midseason, which could allow Cohan to return in a larger capacity as the production schedules on both shows would be unlikely to overlap.
For his part, outgoing showrunner Scott M. Gimple told THR ahead the season eight finale that news on Cohan's front would be coming "soon." He also revealed that the zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's comics would never recast the role of Maggie and that it belonged only to Cohan. He previously told THR in March that he was "pretty positive" both sides could come to an agreement for Cohan to return in some capacity. "We're talking; I'm pretty positive. We're figuring it out. The timing could work well, so all good," he said.
Cohan emerged as one of the most in-demand actresses this pilot season. Sources told THR, at the time, that she has been actively looking for her next role as she battles AMC over her season nine salary. With Walking Dead already renewed for a ninth season, Cohan did not have a deal in place to return to the show. Sources say the actress and her agents were not happy with the offers that have been on the table from AMC. Although Cohan is not seeking salary parity with male leads Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, her camp and AMC have been engaged in a months-long negotiation that remained far apart. Insiders suggested that she was actively looking for her next job and not trying to use the pilot casting process to force AMC's hand as the actress' camp remained frustrated by what some called AMC's "low-ball" offers. Other sources note AMC made "aggressive offers" to re-sign Cohan for season nine.
Either way, it's good news for The Walking Dead that one of its key comic book characters in Maggie and a fan favorite in Cohan will return for season nine — in some capacity — after the April 15 season eight finale teed up a larger story for Maggie. Furious that Rick (Lincoln) opted to not kill Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) — the man who murdered her husband, Glenn (Steven Yeun), before her eyes, the season ended with Maggie vowing to avenge Glenn's death.