The Walking Dead – Lauren Ridloff in Interview – Daily Movies

On the occasion of the release of the second part of the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead, several actors from the cast lent themselves to the game of the interview. We present to you that of Lauren Ridloff, who plays Connie. The actress, born deaf, talks about the representation of the deaf and hard of hearing community in the cinema and recounts with finesse and humor the challenges of the final season.

You spent a good part of season 10 locked up in a mine. At the same time, you were also shooting The Eternals, a film in which, ironically, you were locked in a spaceship. You are an excellent actress. How important is it for you to participate, through your roles, in the representation of deaf people, through pivotal roles like those you had in these series?
I don’t know how to separate the issue of representation from the roles I’ve had. I think what’s also important to me is that the grandeur of these roles gives me an opportunity to use my platform – to speak with you for example, with journalists in general, and to be able to tell my story. It’s a chance to tell the world it’s time – it’s time to tell new stories. Audiences have now been exposed to far more realities – especially since the pandemic. I feel that the public is now ready for these new stories, and that I arrive in this universe at the right time. These stories are worth telling.

You talked about new stories – but that’s almost the end of the one told by The Walking Dead. You are almost at the end of filming. What does your character have in store for us?
It’s a sweet and bitter feeling at the same time to feel that the series is coming to an end. This show gave me a start – I wouldn’t be where I am today without the show. I’ve been a big fan of the show since the first episode. I was a fan from the start… and now here I am, as an actress, and a character in my own right. I have a responsibility to give the public what they expect, what they deserve as a reward for all these years of loyalty to the series. The fan community is huge, and very loyal. They deserve only the best, and that’s what I hope to convey in this final season.

What feedback have you had from the deaf community regarding your involvement in the series?
Many of the feedbacks have been very positive. It’s an additional representation of deaf people, and not by just one character, but by a duo of characters – Connie and Kelly, who both represent different representations of what it means to be hard of hearing. Deaf people are all different, and you see that through Connie and Kelly. For Kelly, who becomes hard of hearing, it requires adjustments, and also a certain form of mourning. For Connie, who has been deaf since birth and has not experienced hearing loss, it is quite different. I think it’s great to see that. The Walking Dead also ensures that all of its trailers and releases have subtitles and can be accessed by everyone.

The Walking Dead has been with us for a long time. However, one could say that this intrigue did not really have a beginning. How do you put an end to a series like this?
As a fan, I think I relied on my knowledge of the show to immerse myself in it as much as possible. Connie is in the comics too – but her background is completely different from what she has on the show. So I mainly used what I knew as a viewer of the series, which really helped me. I have to say that the show’s crew and cast have worked together for so long – 9 years at the time of my arrival – it’s a well-oiled, tight-knit, and very well-functioning machine. They were all very kind and gave me a warm welcome when I arrived. For example, Andrew (Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes) – although it was the last day of filming when I arrived – made sure to come see me regularly, to check in and welcome me to the set.

Episode 6 of season 11 (“Inside”) is a great display of horror. Was it as intense shooting it as watching it, or did you have fun doing it?
It was extremely intense, that’s for sure! I can hardly say it was fun – but it was a great opportunity to be a part of it, and also to be able to work with Greg again. It was very intense to shoot this episode. I was in tears, I was out of breath – and all of this, everything you see, is real. I started shaking, I couldn’t help it because I was so immersed in the scene. At one point, Greg even stopped filming and he came to take me by the shoulder, to ask me if I was okay. He came to hear from me, and I was very grateful to him. When the shooting ended, I slept for a good week afterwards!

You mentioned being a fan of the show before you were on it. What was the hardest scene to shoot – as an actress or as a fan?
I think the one we just mentioned – Season 11 Episode 6, “Inside” – was definitely one of the biggest challenges. I really tried to put myself in Connie’s shoes, to internalize her traumas, to dig as deep as possible. It was a real challenge for me, because it’s not something you can turn on and off on command, after every take. It took me a long time to be able to become myself again afterwards.

When you signed on to play Connie, did you know what was in store for you, or did you find out along with the audience?
I had no idea – and truth be told, it hasn’t changed since! I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I remember at first I always wondered when Connie was going to die – I really expected it all the time. And then I became a series regular, and now… I’m still here! I remember last summer, when Angela Kang and Scott Gimple (showrunners of the series) called me. I was at the beach, and I was like – wait, that’s them, in their office, and they look so serious. I said to myself: “this is it”. I thought that was the end for Connie, that they were going to tell me. But not at all – they were calling to let me know, and let me know that season 11 would be the last.

What was the biggest challenge for you in these last scenes of the series?
I had a lot of anxiety. I really wanted this season to be perfect, and give the audience what they deserve. I think that was the biggest challenge, and that was my main approach to playing Connie. I wanted to focus on his narrative arc and not on anxieties related to my acting.

We found out that Connie was a journalist. Has this given you a new vision of our profession?
Absolutely. As journalists, you have to keep up to date with everything, all the time. For Connie, it’s a lot about figuring out how to spot the truth around her – is it worth it, and what will it take to find it? It really made me think about what journalists face: conveying the truth, in all circumstances, even when you know that the consequences will be serious.

The Walking Dead
Real. : Greg Nicotero/Alrick Riley/Michael E. Satrazemis
Actors: Andrew Lincoln/Norman Reedus/Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Danai Gurira/Lauren Cohan/Austin Amelio, Lynn Collins…

This interview was conducted as part of a round table with journalists from around the world: not all questions belong to Daily Movies.

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The Walking Dead – Lauren Ridloff in Interview – Daily Movies