‘The Walking Dead’ Star Lynn Collins on the Leah-Daryl Romance — and Whether It Continues

Eli Ade/AMC
Eli Ade/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 18, “Find Me.”]

The zombie apocalypse isn’t exactly an ideal setting to find, or maintain, love — just ask Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Aaron (Ross Marquand) or Carol (Melissa McBride) how their relationships worked out. And on the March 7 episode, we learn that Daryl (Norman Reedus) can count himself among those who’ve loved and lost when he fell for a survivor named Leah (Lynn Collins) — we learn this in flashbacks — only to find her gone without a trace, presumably dead. Or is she?

TV Insider spoke with Collins about how she came to play Leah, why she thinks Daryl and Leah were drawn to each other, and to ask what exactly happened to her character.

How did you come to be on The Walking Dead?

Lynn Collins: It’s interesting. I was a passionate, over-the-top fan, and I’m a big believer in manifestation. And maybe seven years ago, my passion for the show manifested me being cast in the show! [Laughs] Actually, I had a couple of opportunities to be on the show within the last seven years. This one was really a match. Sometimes things just click as far as casting is concerned, and this time, I saw the signs and thought, “This is going to work.” And indeed, it did.

How much did you know about Leah, coming in? Being Daryl’s first-ever love interest is a huge deal for the fandom!

Yeah, a huge deal for the fandom — which I’m a part of! That’s the thing, I’m one foot a fan, one foot an actress stirring up this beautiful storm we have. [Showrunner] Angela [Kang] and I had this meeting where she told me what was going to happen and what it all entailed. I was able to come in and really prepare, as much as you can prepare for something that’s this groundbreaking for the show.

But at the same time, it’s the last season, and it’s time something like that was introduced. Especially because Daryl’s character is going to have a spinoff where I’m sure there are going to be more situations like this.

Eli Ade/AMC

OK, we really want to know about Dog, who in real life is named Seven. What was it like working with him?

Seven is actually an older dog, and he has such a gentle, gentle energy. I love animals to the point of distraction, and it was so wonderful to work with him and his trainers. They gave me time to just sit and be with him, and they were like, “If you could act like he’s your dog, it’ll be easier for him.” I started giving him commands, and we formed such a symbiotic relationship.

And the story this episode tells about Dog is that he’s had his own trauma. He was born the day Leah’s son died, so we kind of assume his mommy didn’t make it. So Leah was his mommy. And at the end of this episode, we don’t know what happened to Leah, but we know Dog didn’t go with her. What did he witness? Was she killed, and he had to witness that? Did she leave, and not take him? Dog deserves a lot of love. He should be number one on our list.

How would you define the Leah-Daryl connection?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Leah for sure fell in love with him. If it wasn’t the apocalypse, would these two be a match? Who knows. In some ways, these two are so similar. Both have lost so much and both cope with that loss by isolating themselves. And yet there’s no way to get away from each other. It’s so meant to be. And a lot of us, as fans watching the episode, are like, “Whoa, this happened so fast!” But it doesn’t. It takes a couple years for these two to broach even friendship. It’s a long haul for them, and in some ways, isn’t that how good relationships are formed?

Can you tell us anything about happened to her? There’s an unstated rule on the show that if there’s no body, they’re not really dead…

We’re just going to have to keep watching! I think the writers have done an incredible job with those six episodes, so if it does progress, we’re in for a treat. And if it doesn’t, there are all sorts of other options where this could go.

The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC