'Walking Dead' exceeds expectations of actress

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CHICAGO -- After her recurring roles on NBC's "Chuck" and The CW's "Supernatural" and "The Vampire Diaries," Lauren Cohan decided to leave Los Angeles and move back to England. Ms. Cohan -- who was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey before moving to England when she was 13 -- missed her family, the culture and the theater scene.

Her return to England lasted a week.

Ms. Cohan booked the role of farm girl Maggie Greene on the second season of AMC's "The Walking Dead" and moved to Georgia, where the series is filmed. Now in its fourth season, the show about a zombie apocalypse is one of the biggest ratings draws on TV, and Ms. Cohan is one of its biggest stars.

"Low and behold, I ended up working on 'Walking Dead' with two amazing British actors, Andy [Lincoln] and David [Morrissey]," said Ms. Cohan over the phone from Los Angeles. "It's a dream job, and I got some of the [British] culture I'd been craving."

Ms. Cohan didn't go into "The Walking Dead" with expectations. Her past experiences as a frequent guest star on TV likely taught her there's no guarantee she will be become a part of the main cast. Did she ever get disappointed when her past TV stints ended?

"No, not very," Ms. Cohan said. "I'm a great believer in fate and you're always where you're supposed to be. I had a [CW] pilot [in 2011] that wasn't picked up. It's disappointing when that happens, but I'm very grateful. I think it's the best thing that ever happened to me. 'Walking Dead' is hardly a consolation prize."

Thanks to the enormous popularity of "Walking Dead," Ms. Cohan is now appearing in photo spreads for Maxim and Esquire and making late-night talk show appearances on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," TBS's "Conan" and Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live."

Not bad for someone who said she didn't have a publicist until her second season on "Walking Dead."

"It's really fun," Ms. Cohan said. "I'm doing 'Craig Ferguson' and am so looking forward to it. I'm embracing that part of the industry. I'm a relatively private person, but the world is different now. You can be yourself when you're doing publicity."

There have also been film opportunities, but Ms. Cohan said she has had to turn them down due to her busy "Walking Dead" schedule. "I did have screen tests for things," Ms. Cohan said. "But it's tricky. Right now I'm all about 'Walking Dead.' It's a great problem to have."

Because so many of her "Walking Dead" co-stars have been killed off, Ms. Cohan has learned to accept that there are certain things that are out of her control and made peace with the fact her time on the show can end at any point.

"I'm in a place where I feel OK with whatever happens," she said. "But don't let me be misunderstood, I'm happy and don't want to leave."

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