Not only did Emmy and Tony-nominated Tovah Feldshuh survive Season 5, her freshman season, of The Walking Dead, but her Deanna Monroe, the leader of the Alexandria community where Rick Grimes and friends have settled, promises to continue to play a major role in Season 6.
Will Deanna come to regret her decision to temporarily abandon her ideals about civility when she signed off on Rick executing her husband’s murderer, Pete? What will be her relationship with Rick and his crew, and her own citizens, after her crushing loss in the season finale? And is the Broadway star enjoying her new status in the comic book fan world? As she prepares to head back to Atlanta to begin shooting Season 6 in May, Feldshuh breaks it all down for Yahoo TV.
In some ways, the Season 5 finale felt less like a finale and more like the beginning of Season 6, especially for Deanna. Do you think she’ll be rethinking her decision about telling Rick to kill Pete once she’s had some time to think about it?
I just know that Deanna did her best to create a transparent, egalitarian society and that last speech in the last episode… you see a paradigm [shift] from the rule of law to the rule of swift justice. That’s what is so crushing and crucial about the last episode. Any good writer in the finale of a season puts in very deep hooks for the next season, which is exactly what Scott Gimple did. That guy is a fantastic writer and examiner of the possibilities of human nature, all the different permutations that don’t fit into a neat moral box about what makes us human beings. The answer is I don’t know. I just go week to week with what is written for me and try to tell the truth as I see it.
Were you excited when you read that finale script? You must have realized immediately that it does open up all sorts of possibilities for Deanna’s storyline.
I was, of course, happy that I didn’t die. Nobody ever wants to leave The Walking Dead. You want to last as long as you can stay on it, because the darn thing is just so very good, so beloved by its viewers, because it goes very deep into the river of what it means to be alive in this world. It raises questions about whether a bourgeois life kills the soul, a bourgeois protected and comfortable life versus a more stressful existence, which can be both horrendous but also very, very enlightening.
I was, of course, sad to see [Reg] get killed, no less with the saber that a doctor was wielding because he stole it from one of my favorite characters. The whole irony that a medical doctor kills an innocent intellectual, really, the gentlest of all of us… what will that do to Deanna as the head of civilized living, of the growing community? What does that mean [for] her relationship with Rick and the band of people she’s taken in from the outside? What does it mean for next season? Do I promote Rick from constable to general? Do we head into a conflict? Do I have regret? Do I backtrack? These are questions yet to be answered as we start filming in May.
You joined in the second half of last season. Did you know then your storyline would continue into Season 6?
I knew I was going to be invited back when I joined the series in September. I was thrilled, of course, when I got the legal document. It’s a very joyful set, [considering] all the terrible anxiety and problems in the plot. It’s exactly the opposite on the set. Everybody is, at least from my experience, very well taken care of, beloved, well-fed… they’re wonderful to us. Everybody seems to prize not just the actor, but everybody has tremendous care for the other human beings. It’s extremely touching. I’m very enthusiastic about going back to work. I love working with Andy Lincoln. I love working with Scott Gimple. I love the people there. I think they’re committed to kind of a feature film sensibility.
You’ve had major success on TV, on stage, in music, in movies. What has your experience been like in terms of the fans in this comic book world, which is its own kind of fandom?
It’s changing my life. And what’s so wonderful is that it’s happening at a time in my life where I am so grateful. I’m a biker, and I bike all over [New York City]. When I’m on my bicycle with my helmet on, in my camouflage, and people yell from across Central Park West, “The Walking Dead! We love you! We love you!” it’s wild! My Twitter account… it went from like 150 to 3,600 people in a week or something. Now, I know Norman [Reedus] has more than a million followers, the great Norman Reedus. Just to be in this century on Twitter, on Facebook, catching up to the media, it’s been wonderful. Or, talking to you, and having three interviews a week and being stopped by fans. I went to Broadway the other week and, honest, I could barely get into the stall of the ladies room. I was stopped constantly in the lobby of the theater, because of The Walking Dead. And I just found it wonderful. Wonderful! People are very kind to me. They’re respectful. I mean, maybe that’s because of my age. I don’t know. They’re not sitting there screaming “Deanna!” and trying to take a piece of my clothing. They’re very, very nice.
Have you been invited to any of the fan conventions? Is that something you would want to do?
I would love to! You know, I love people. My career began on Broadway. I love being with people. And because the set is so loving on The Walking Dead, I find it very accessible to do truthful, relaxed, present work. And I want to serve the series. I want to be an asset to them, of course. Do I want to go to Comic-Con? Oh, I’d love to do it. I’ve never gone. It’s just another world, and I hope Scott Gimple and production will take me. I hope they invite me, because if they invite me, I’ll say yes.
The Walking Dead returns this fall on AMC.