- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for season 11, episode 16 of “The Walking Dead,” “Acts of God.”
- Lynn Collins speaks with Insider about the big moment between Leah, Daryl, and Maggie at the episode’s end.
- Collins says she knows how “TWD” ends and hopes to continue playing strong women on screen.
Leah’s time on “The Walking Dead” came to an end on Sunday’s mid-season finale when her former lover, Daryl, shot her in the back of the head, saving Maggie, near the episode’s end.
It’s a moment Lynn Collins has been prepared to happen since joining the apocalyptic drama in 2020.
“I knew from the very beginning,” Collins told Insider over a
call last Thursday of her character’s fate. “I knew before I was even in season 10 that this was gonna be the case.”
“[Showrunner] Angela [Kang] had outlined the arc as best she could with as many specifics as possible, knowing that there would be some elements that would change,” Collins said of knowing Leah wasn’t going to get a happy ending in the zombie apocalypse.
Collins added: “It has been very difficult having to do interviews and not being able to say anything. It’s been hard.”
Leah may not have gotten her fairy-tale ending with Daryl, but the series, which Collins has been a fan of for years, helped the single mom find her own real-life happily ever after in Senoia, Georgia where she bought a house and is planning to stay for the time being.
Insider caught up with Collins to break down Sunday’s episode. The actress shared how at one point, someone else instead of Daryl was potentially going to kill Leah. She also told us her only regret about her time on the series (not sharing screen time with Melissa McBride), and the helpful social media advice star Norman Reedus gave her when joining the show.
Since Collins knows how “TWD” will end (she still has friends on set, of course), she also shared whether or not fans may be satisfied with the upcoming series’ finale.
Collins cried for about 45 minutes after reading the script for her final episode.
Insider: What was your reaction to reading Sunday’s script and learning how Leah would die? Were you happy with how you went out?
Collins: Yeah. There was an element where at one point, they didn’t know if it was gonna be Daryl or someone else [who kills Leah]. And so I had to wait patiently. We all had to wait patiently to see who that was ultimately gonna be. I know Norman wanted it to be Daryl. I did too. So I was pleased that it was him.
After I saw the episode, I had an extreme, emotional reaction. I cried for like 45 minutes and I was like, “This is so wild.” So much of being an actor is — you do your work and then you really have to let it go because you’re not in control of how it’s edited or how it’s presented. So I thought I was going to be more emotionally detached. But it was really sad to see the character go the way she did, sad that the journey’s ending for the show altogether. It’s just been an emotional week, for sure.
Yeah. It sounds like all of those things probably culminated and it was just a giant release.
Huge! Huge, huge, huge. To see the fans’ reactions, there are some people who are really upset that this character’s gone the way she [has] and I can’t hold their hand through the process. There is a sense of great pride that the work that I did affected people so deeply. You can only hope that that happens as an actor. So there’s silver linings to the bitter sweetness of it all.
Absolutely. I was actually at a panel for “This Is Us” recently and they were talking about their final season. They mentioned that when you take on a job like this at first it’s a job, but then you’ll get fan mail and realize what some of these characters mean to people. Have you received things that have just made you go, “Wow. I didn’t realize that I was going to have this sort of effect on people”?
Yes. Not just fan mail. Because I’m actually in Senoia still, where we shoot, there’s lots of tourists who come and I get recognized and people express a lot of how it affects them. Good and bad.
There’s also fans that think I’m actually that person [Leah]. So it’s been an interesting journey. But it’s funny you say “This Is Us.” I started rewatching that show last night. And when I say [it’s been] an emotional week, I could not stop crying.
Collins never discussed any iteration of her death scene which involved a potential conversation between Leah and Daryl.
I was a little surprised that Leah never has a final conversation with Daryl and that Leah never knows that it was Daryl who shot her. She doesn’t see it coming.
Right? And when I spoke with Angela earlier this week, she said there was maybe an iteration of the scene where you did share more of a conversation at one point. I’m not sure if that was something you had talked about at all. Did you ever read any alternate scene or discuss any other possibilities there?
No, I just accepted it as it was. I kind of learned with this show that the writers have a plan and I have to trust the plan. But, also, I think they write a lot of situations that are controversial. There is an element of that to the show and I think this is one of them.
Leah was likely stealing the Commonwealth guns to have some sort of power and currency after losing everything a few episodes back.
Something that’s never answered on this episode is if Lance didn’t find Leah, what was her big plan? Why was she stealing the Commonwealth soldier guns? We never really get into that. Was she just going to bust into the Hilltop or Alexandria guns blazing?
I’m not really sure. I think she knows that the guns are currency and everything has been stripped away. So she has to find some way of having power so that she can get what she wants, which is ultimately revenge for everyone that she’s lost.
I think she, from my perspective, is trying to make that work so to speak. That’s the main focus. How does she get any sort of power back?
Norman Reedus warned Collins to be careful of how she engaged with fans when joining ‘TWD’
When you look back at your time on the show, are you glad that you were Daryl’s first love interest or was it more trouble than it was worth? I know how fans get with Daryl and Carol and Daryl and Connie.
You know, I learned from the get that I could not engage with anything that I would say that would be less than positive. And Norman had said that, too. He was like, just be careful of what you watch, what you look at, because they’re really passionate. So protect yourself. Just be careful.
So, I have to be honest, after season 10, I realized, ‘Oh, it’s not really my business what critics or fans …” That’s their thing. I just have to do the work. I just have to facilitate the writing that I’m given and help the story be told. I can’t get emotionally involved with naysayers, so to speak, because then I’m not gonna be able to do my best work. I’ll be insecure.
It could have affected my choices as an actor, right? If it’s about being liked, well, you basically give up most of your creativity because if you’re worrying about the character being liked or not, you’re gonna be holding back on choices that could actually serve the story and heighten that story to a next level.
Collins regrets that she and Melissa McBride didn’t get to share a scene on ‘TWD.’ She would’ve liked to see Leah become a part of the group.
Is there anything with Leah that you wish you could redo or that you would’ve liked to play out differently? Or are you happy with your journey?
I’m really happy with it. It’s really been such a pleasure. The only complaint that I’ve had is that I wanted to have scenes with Melissa, who plays Carol, and we weren’t able to do that. That’s my only complaint.
The camaraderie, the brilliance of the crew working through, in the summer, just brutal conditions, and then in the winter, they’re getting snowed on and frozen. I can’t say enough about these people that I’ve met and the community that is basically created here because of this show. It’s been incredible.
I was going to ask you about this. So I’m glad that you brought it up. In your mind, what do you think a Carol and Leah scene would’ve looked like? Is that something you ever thought about?
Well, I mean, I had this fantasy — you have so many fantasies about where this could go.
If I was in control, ultimately, I would’ve loved to see Leah become a part of the group. And then what would that be like when there’s Carol and then Leah — wifey. Who does what?
Then, if you go the other direction, what would it be like if Carol was the one who entered the cabin [on Sunday’s mid-season finale]? I think they probably thought about that, you know, if Carol [shot Leah], but at the end of the day, I know Norman really wanted to be the one to take Leah down and I wanted that, too.
Collins says she knows how ‘The Walking Dead’ ends.
Now that you’re no longer on the show, I know you’re going to be watching “This Is Us,” but are you going to two finale? Do you have a prediction for how it all ends?
Well, I know how it all ends because, you know, I’m friends with these people. We talk about it and I’m still in the town. So yes, I will continue to watch.
OK. Do you think people are going to be satisfied with the ending then from what you’ve heard?
Well, how could you watch a show for 11 years and it ends and you can be satisfied? I think that’s an impossible task. I think there’s a reason for that too because there are gonna be spinoffs, so it’s not the end, really. It’s just the end of the OG.
Collins had no idea HBO’s rebooting ‘True Blood’
Before I let you go, because I know that you were on “True Blood,” I have to ask did you hear about HBO doing a “True Blood” reboot? HBO’s Casey Bloys has discussed this recently saying that there have been multiple versions discussed. Do you think that something that should be or needs to be rebooted?
It’s a little soon.
I mean, I know it was like their most successful endeavor, but it feels like that could be a little bit too soon.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure if you had heard anything about that.
No, I hadn’t heard that. That’s interesting.
It caught me by surprise. I just assume that everything’s being rebooted at some point now if they don’t have spinoffs.
That’s so interesting.
Collins is open to playing Leah on ‘Tales of the Walking Dead’ and found a real-life love down in Georgia.
Would you want to see Leah again in “TWD” universe?
Is there anything you learned that you’re going to takeaway from this experience? What has it meant for you to be a part of the show? I know you came on as a fan. As well, can you share what’s next for you? Is there any project you can talk about that you’re excited for? Could we ever possibly see Leah maybe return to this universe on “Tales of the Walking Dead” or somewhere else?
[I could] definitely see her return. The thing that I’ve loved about doing this show is that to be here, in Georgia, I had to move here to do the show, but I was also given a chance to focus on my side gig. I’m a life coach and a spiritual counselor, and I’m developing a flower essence line and a sacred perfume line. I’m doing a bunch of different things that have nothing to do with my acting career. It’s called The Good Woo. The website is TheGoodWoo.org.
So I was able to build that while I’ve been here, which has been really great.
But I also want to stay here. I fell in love with a chiropractor here and so my personal life is now revolving around this town and this place, as well. I made so many friends here. Coming out of the 2020 isolation and into this community has been rewarding on every level. So I’m trying to get a gig that would at least keep me in the south so that I keep my house here.
Ultimately, I hope that people continue to cast me as strong women because it’s really amazing to see the feedback and how people are inspired by it. Even if the character’s flawed, there’s been so much feedback from women and men … Hearing something like that to be a part of, I guess, just making the world better through the work, that’s all I can ask for.
My heart goes out to the fans of this show who feel like they’re really losing a huge part of their life when this show ends. I think it’s such a testament to this cast and crew that has dedicated their lives to telling this story in this world. I think the next six months for these fans is gonna be intense and my heart goes out to everyone. I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. There’s more to come. There’s tons of spinoffs. So it’s not really the end.
You can follow along with “TWD” universe coverage here. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.