Quick,The Walking Dead fans: if you were to guess which fan-favorite character was least likely to be surprisingly married, who would you pick? Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), probably. But equally surprising, as revealed on this week’s “The Rotten Core” —and spoilers past this point — Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is married to newcomer Annie, played by Medina Senghore. And not only that, the duo have a baby on the way.
“It’s a rough week for Annie,” Senghore told Decider of the baby twist. “She’s got a lot going on, and the way that she’s found to survive, and the role that she’s found for herself within her community once she has not just herself that she’s responsible for protecting, but a baby she’s carrying, that just blows up her perception of herself and what she’s capable of.”
In the episode, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and company have discovered a community under attack by the Commonwealth. And not only that, it turns out that the newly betrothed Negan has been living with the community for the past few months. Over the course of the hour, Maggie and Annie team up to take down their attackers, spar about Annie’s spouse’s past history, and generally feel each other out.
To find out more about the new character, as well as if she’ll be tagging along on the Maggie and Negan spin-off, Isle of the Dead, read on.
Decider: What did you know about the role coming in? Obviously for the fans it’s been purposely shrouded in secrecy but did they lay it out for you who Annie was and what was going on with her? Or were you just as surprised?
Medina Senghore: I knew nothing, so the fans and I, we can be in solidarity. They’re, I’m sure, always hungry for info, but sometimes the actors are too. Information about Annie was seeded out to me very slowly, and I knew nothing going in.
In that case, what has it been like joining the show in this final run of episodes?
It’s been so amazing. The show’s been on for so long that I was able to call up actors I knew who had experience on the show, I asked them and everyone was like, “it’s gonna be the best gig you ever had, it’s so much fun,” and I was like, there’s no way that can be true. But it turned out to be just like a family party that you got invited to.
I love that. You were in Those Who Wish Me Dead with Jon Bernthal, is he one of the folks you called up?
No, but why didn’t I think of that? It didn’t occur to me until you just said that.
You can call him right after we get off, find out what he thinks. The big reveal here in the episode is that Negan and Annie are married, which seems quick even by Walking Dead standards. What do you think the wedding was like?
I have my imaginings about it for sure. I will say that I think Negan and Annie are two people who are more pragmatic than romantic, so that gives a sense of what I think their wedding would’ve been like.
When we first see them, they’re already married, several months down the road, so how much did you and Jeffrey Dean Morgan build out a backstory for the relationship? Or was it just taking the script and rolling with it as is?
It varies everyday just based on what we’re shooting that day, or what the time constraints are. Every actor works differently, so we just kind of organically always just met the needs of what we were doing that day.
They were part of, or are part of a religious enclave… Is Annie religious, or was that a matter of convenience?
I’m biased, but I think the community that Annie is a part of is pretty awesome. And an equal mix of, you could call it religious, you could call it spiritual, but also very fierce and savage fighters. What I will say is, I think we’re a community that’s bound by loyalty to each other, and by faith in the loyalty we have for each other.
In the midst of the episode, Annie teams up with Maggie. Was that purposeful on Annie’s part to get her alone and have a conversation? Or was it just that they’re the two most equipped to take down this threat?
That is an excellent question. I think it’s open to interpretation what Annie’s motives are with respects to Maggie because, I mean, that’s a very tough situation that she finds herself in. Maggie has legitimate beef with Negan’s spouse. Annie has to figure out who is this person, and can I turn my back to her?
Related, there’s a great line where Annie and Maggie are talking where reveals that she knows what Negan has done and you say, “None of us have clean hands.” Are we potentially going to find out some more about that? Perhaps how Annie got her hands dirty?
Oh, anything is possible. Anything is possible with these storytellers.
Just to dig into this a little bit more, we’re so tied to Glenn (Steven Yeun), we’re so tied to Maggie, we know so much about the evil, vile things that Negan did. It’s hard to imagine a place where Annie did something that’s even half as bad. Do you feel like she has done things that are as bad as Negan? Perhaps it was a bonding point? Or am I just speculating too hard?
The way Annie sees it is that anyone’s who still alive at this point has had to make some tough choices. I mean, fans of the show will see that with all of the heroes at some point. Different tough choices land different with different characters, you know what I mean? Like, for one character stealing food from someone else might be devastating, whereas for another character, taking someone’s life might have an impact on them. So it’s different depending on who the character is. But the impact is the tough choices we’ve all had to make to stay alive.
I imagine it’s only going to be tougher for her going forward because we get the reveal that Annie is 12 weeks pregnant here. How much do you think that is impacting her choices at this point?
It’s a rough week for Annie. She’s got a lot going on, and the way that she’s found to survive, and the role that she’s found for herself within her community once she has not just herself that she’s responsible for protecting, but a baby she’s carrying, that just blows up her perception of herself and what she’s capable of.
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On the other end of the spectrum, they’re obviously in very tense circumstances, but the whole “Die Hard in the zombie apocalypse” vibes of this episode are a lot of fun to watch. What was it like filming the action sequences, with Lauren Cohan in particular?
That’s always the cherry on top of the sundae. It’s so much fun. The action stuff is cool, you feel like a badass and everyone on set is such a pro that you know you’re in good hands. I love the action stuff. I just gotta take off my trying to be a cool or sophisticated actor hat and just admit that it is a lot of fun.
What can we potentially expect from Annie as the season — and show — starts to wrap up?
Annie, she’s very loyal, and she’s loyal to the people she cares about, and she’s wary of people she doesn’t know. So I think we can expect her to have the backs of the people she trusts — and to have no mercy for the people she doesn’t.
They’ve already announced the Negan and Maggie spin-off… Do you know at this point if you’re going to be involved in that show?
I don’t, and even if I did know, I wouldn’t trust what I do know because… It’s very meta, it’s like in the world of the show, things change on a dime all the time. And then in the world of the making of the show, things change. So I don’t know, and if I did, it wouldn’t matter.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC, and a week early on AMC+.
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