Laurie Fortier has played plenty of intense characters, from crime suspects to unhinged relatives in her recent Lifetime movie. Yet she took things up another notch when she joined AMC‘s The Walking Dead in the role of Agatha, adding her name to the list of TV action heroines like Kelly Overton and Tricia Helfer. And the role took her on quite a ride!
I recently spoke with Laurie to discuss becoming part of The Walking Dead phenomenon, filming during what is also the show’s final season, and her character’s ultimate fate. Plus, what other project would she recommend to Walking Dead fans who have just discovered how fantastic she is?
SPOILER ALERT: The following interview contains spoilers if you haven’t seen the first three episodes of The Walking Dead season 11.
Brittany Frederick: The Walking Dead has been on for over a decade, but it’s still a massive TV franchise. What did it mean to you to be cast in the show, especially in the final season?
Laurie Fortier: It is huge, and I was completely thrilled to book it. The funny thing is that I had never seen the show before. When I booked it, there was 10 seasons to catch up on, and I thought there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to binge all this, so I just basically locked myself in a room. I had Post-It notes all over the walls just trying to piece together the relationships with the different characters. [I was] knee-deep in research and Google. It wasn’t until after I did the show that I finally binged the entire series.
But to walk onto a series that has been on the air for so long and has so many fans was intimidating for sure, and obviously such an honor to be a part of in the last season.
BF: Was there a certain feeling on set because it was the last season? Or how did the filming experience feel to you as someone coming in?
LF: Absolutely. The first table read with all the actors and the executives back in February was my first time meeting everyone on the show. All these actors and writers had been together for years. They were all excited to be going back to work, into the final season, but at the same time, it was bittersweet for everyone.
BF: Viewers aren’t given much of Agatha’s backstory before what happened to her community and she comes into contact with the main characters. Did you end up sitting down and figuring out or creating that history for yourself to better understand her?
LF: I really combed the [season premiere] script for clues and then I had a conversation with the writer, Jim Barnes, to get his take on it. I slowly pieced together the puzzle of what the community of Meridian was like, with the Wardens and Maggie and Herschel.
BF: We get to the third episode, and unfortunately like many people in The Walking Dead history, Agatha doesn’t make it. How did you get the bad news and how was the experience of dying in such a spectacular way?
LF: I’ve heard that normally on the show when your character is going to die, you get a call from [showrunner] Angela [Kang], but we were still knee-deep in those first couple weeks of filming and they were so crazed. It was such a big episode to prepare for. So my agent called and said “Okay, here’s the good news. Your death is going to be epic, but you’re going to be dying in episode 3.” Then when I read the script I thought, “Okay, this is really cool.”
On the day we were to film my death scene, I turn around and I see what I thought was a walker—but was actually [executive producer] Greg Nicotero dressed in full walker costume. He goes “I’m going to kill you!” with a big mischievous smile on his face. (laughs) Hours later we go rehearse the choreography of the actual bite, and he looks at me and he goes ‘Can you tell? I even put in the walker contacts for you too, so that you could really have something to react off of.’ It was so awesome and sweet, and I was so honored to have him be the one to bite me.
BF: Playing Agatha is a very physical role right down to that death scene. It’s more physical than many of your previous characters. How did you adapt to that challenge?
LF: This was definitely one of the more physical, for sure. I had an idea when they informed me I would be having weapons training after my [wardrobe] fitting…When I first booked the job I didn’t know anything about the character other then she was some sort of warrior, because I had been given dummy sides. So I show up for my training session and my trainer goes “Your weapons of choice are knives. You’re a knife expert, so I’ll be teaching you Filipino knife training” In my head I’m thinking Oh my God, how am I going to pull this off? But he worked me hard and I practiced at home.
One day after feeling pretty good about my skills, I showed my 18-year-old son, look what I just learned. He just rolled his eyes like “Oh my God. What are you doing?” (laughs) But yeah, by far, it was one of the most physical jobs. To kill the walkers and really pull it off, there’s a way to it. You really have to sell it. Norman Reedus was gracious enough to show me, as was Lauren Cohan—it’s all about the pullout.
BF: Hopefully The Walking Dead fans will check out other work that you’ve done. There’s Hemlock Grove on Netflix, which was also in the horror genre, but is there anything else you’d recommend?
LF: [Hemlock Grove] would make sense; it’s a similar genre. Unsolved was a really cool series. It was a limited series, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. I would probably say to go check that one out. It’s a completely different genre, but I was really proud of that show. It was a cool story to be a part of, and I’m still friends with Greg Kading, the detective whose book the story was based off of, and his wife Donna. Good people.
BF: What would you like to see come next for you after having conquered Agatha? Or do you already know what’s coming up and can you say?
LF: I hope it leads to other exciting roles, and I’m interested in a wide range of genres, so I would welcome anything. I certainly do like playing a badass. It was a nice departure from all the Lifetime stuff that I’ve done. In fact, I just finished another one after you and I last spoke, which I am really excited about. I got to play a character that was inspired by Ghislaine Maxwell. She’s just a completely fascinating character. Totally twisted woman. I always understood Jeffrey Epstein—the fact that he was motivated by sex and power. But with her I was like “Here she is, this woman, procuring these young girls for him.” So I got to do a deep dive into what would motivate a woman to do such things.
And speaking about badass women, I also recently guest starred on 9-1-1 with the incredible Angela Bassett!
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 20 on AMC. The Walking Dead season 11 can currently be streamed on AMC+ and other platforms.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.