The ABC action dramedy Whiskey Cavalier follows Will Chase (Scott Foley), an FBI super-agent who’s in touch with his feelings, and Frankie Trowbridge (Lauren Cohan), a CIA operative who’s a bit more guarded when it comes to expressing her emotions, as they work together to lead an inter-agency team of spies. As loyal as they are flawed, the team – including Susan Sampson (Ana Ortiz), the FBI’s top profiler, Jai Datta (Vir Das), a CIA Weapons Specialist, and Edgar Standish (Tyler James Williams), a former NSA analyst and skilled hacker – save the world while also giving advice to teach other about friendship, romance and office politics.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Lauren Cohan talked about transitioning from brutality and intensity of The Walking Dead to the bad-ass fun of Whiskey Cavalier, how much she loves doing action, how Steven Yeun and Scott Foley compare as co-stars, Frankie’s sexuality, which of her The Walking Dead co-stars she’d love to face off with as Frankie, how her The Walking Dead storyline is not finished yet, whether Frankie and Maggie would team up in the apocalypse, her favorite action sequence this season, and whether she’d like to return one last time on The CW series Supernatural (she played Bela Talbot in Season 3), before it ends its run with its 15th season.
Collider: As much as fans love The Walking Dead, it seems like for its cast, it must be an intense and grueling experience, especially when you never know which co-star will die next or what gruesome death scene you have to be a witness to. Is doing a show like Whiskey Cavalier and playing a character like Frankie the perfect anecdote to what you had to do on The Walking Dead?
LAUREN COHAN: Yeah, I think so. It’s funny ‘cause until that stress is taken off of the table, you don’t realize, “Oh, right, that wasn’t normal.” When I was looking at other projects to do, I definitely thought it would be fun to do something so much the opposite. It’s actually amazing how much out there is still in the dark realm. I had a lot of other options that were still investigative or crime, or something that still felt gory, and that’s exciting. But it was definitely fun for me to read something like this. And then, the more we got into doing it, a better side of Lauren got to come out. They lean into our sentiments, too. I’m not like Frankie, at all, but I do a good amount of eye roll.
Before signing on for this TV series, had you ever had like a secret dream of being a bad-ass action hero spy?
COHAN: It’s so funny because it’s totally Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Moonlighting meets Cheers meets Hart to Hart. It’s this collision of James Bond, plus a wholesome sitcom that you grew up on. And I really like action, but I also like it with a bit of a wink and a heightened reality. It’s a heightened reality that leads to comedy, the way that The Walking Dead is a heightened reality that leads you to more gore, more drama and more heartache. These people are really, really good, and we get truly challenging things to do. These are people who aren’t so good at regular life. That was the main conflict that really appealed to me, with this show. These people could be bad-asses, but they’re also humanized by getting insecure and petty about things ‘cause sometimes that’s what we do, as people.
When I started to do a little bit of action with The Walking Dead, and then I did a lot with the movie Mile 22, a year before this show, it was really fun because you realize that you can do that stuff and you just want more of it. You realize how much you can push your own limitations. It’s really fun. The most fun component of being in a long-running series is that the show evolves with us, and we evolve with the premise of the characters and the show and what people respond to. There’s really no limit to all of the colors of it because we can have these elaborate fight scenes, and use a lot of elaborate special effects and explosions, and then have this very, very comfy button in the show, where everybody is meeting in the bar and there’s a sense of family and familiarity. That made it a unique appealing thing for me.
What was it like to go from having Steven Yeun as your co-star to Scott Foley? How different are they as actors, and have you noticed any similarities with how they approach their work?
COHAN: They’re totally different, but it’s also just totally different shows and environments, and the character that I play is different. Steve and I were ultimately husband and wife in the show, but we shared our time because the show had so many other characters. Scott and I have a lot more one-on-one moments, which also gives he and I a lot of chance for improv. The characters are such opposites, and they push each other’s buttons. They bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly in each other. He and I definitely get a lot of space to explore their relationship and to have fun pushing each other’s buttons. It’s a totally different thing. It’s so funny ‘cause neither one is really traditional. Maggie and Glenn were larger than life, in terms of what they were able to defeat together, but they were both on the same trajectory and were a couple that I think people were really excited to see together because it wasn’t expected, with her background and Hershel’s reservations, and then their love ultimately prevailing over everything and teaching the entire group the true meaning of love.
What Frankie and Will have is really fun because we flip the gender expectations. The depiction of males and females in most entertainment isn’t really that authentic to me, personally, because men do have an incredibly tender side, and women do have an incredibly tough side. So, inasmuch as this is a comedy, it’s really fun for me to still be able to flip the script and say, “Hey, this can be the new norm.” I see so much more of my mom in Frankie ‘cause my mom is such a tough cookie, and that’s really fun. As Frankie teases out the tougher side of Will, and he teases out the more sensitive side of Frankie, you get a sense of people’s willingness to reveal themselves. So, in terms of the difference in working relationships, the genre is just so different, to begin with. I feel like I get to work muscles, as an actor, that I didn’t use before. I miss those dramatic muscles, where everything is life and death, but that’s the beauty of swimming in and out of different arenas of writing. Lucky for me, I haven’t actually said goodbye to any of these things. I feel really, really lucky ‘cause, rest assured, the Maggie story is not finished. It’s still very exciting.
You’ve previously said that you don’t think Frankie sees gender. Because of that, do you think that, at some point, we’ll get to see her bisexuality explored? Is that something you’d like to see happen on the show?
COHAN: I don’t know. I’m excited to see how Frankie rolls. She just walks to the beat of a different drum, in terms of relationships and social norms. What we’ve gotten to see, so far, is that she’s not shy about doing what needs to be done to get the job done, in terms of their actual lives as agents, and there’s a reason that she’s been attracted to this career. She’s not squeamish. She’s not necessarily conventional. As a woman, there are a lot of parts of her that she keeps guarded, but there are simultaneously a lot of ways that she is open to experience and not shy. It’s so difficult to answer because I really don’t know. It hasn’t even been specifically stated. I don’t know if she’s bi, or if she’s just open, but I don’t think that she feels the need to define anything either, and I love that. She’s just everything that Will isn’t. He’s Mr. White Bread traditional with a picket fence. That’s what’s so cool about this job. You’re actually required to live outside of the norm in their job, and that bleeds into everything that Frankie is interested in.
If you could bring any of your co-stars from The Walking Dead on, as a guest star for Whiskey Cavalier, who would you choose, and would you want them to play a friend or a foe to Frankie?
COHAN: Oh, a foe, definitely. I think Christian Serratos would be so funny. I always think it would be fun, if she could come on as some sort of ne’er-do-well. I’ve seen her vamp it up, which is a side that we don’t really see on The Walking Dead. I just think she’d play such a good spy, so that would be fun. Now that we’re doing so many stunts, I think about all of the friends that I’d want to do some of that with.And with Marika, when her first episodes were coming up, we all wanted fight scenes together. We train a lot in a group so we look forward to what action sequences we will get to do and with which characters. That’s so much of what the show is, when we’re not filming, we’re rehearsing some kind of fight. It’s just a perpetual kindergarten play group.
Do you think that Maggie and Frankie would team up and be friends in the apocalypse, or would one of them be afraid of the other?
COHAN: No, I don’t think they would be afraid of each other. The similarity that both of those characters have is that ‘let’s get on with it’, or ‘let’s get down to it’ thing. They’re different enough in their skill set and their sensibility, but they both have a similar drive, which is such a crazy coincidence because they’re played by the same actress. So, they would probably both go forward in battle.
Have you had a favorite action scene or sequence to shoot?
COHAN: One of my favorite ones was the one where we were in this underground subway system, and Scott and I have this tandem fight. Any time that we have tandem stuff, it’s really fun. You can really see how they work, as a team. So, that one was good. And Frankie also gets so many great one-liners.
The first time that I remember seeing you was in The CW series Supernatural, which has finally announced that it’s coming to an end with its 15th season.
COHAN: I know.
Since no one is truly ever dead on that show, would you like to find a way to make an appearance on the last season and play that character, one last time?
COHAN: When we hang up the phone, I really should call somebody and see if that’s possible. That would be freaking amazing! I was so jealous Jeffery Dean Morgan said he was off doing the 300th episode. I love those guys, and I loved my time on that show. That was my first TV experience, and my first job in the United States. It was just so much fun. It was also my first time putting a foot into the immensely strong fan base for Supernatural. It was the nicest group to become a part of. It was a first for me, for so many things. So, with absolute gusto, I would love to go back.
Whiskey Cavalier airs on Wednesday nights on ABC.