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Laurie Holden's Big Change

The 'Walking Dead' actress on transitioning from drama to slapstick comedy.

Laurie Holden didn't exactly have an easy time as Andrea in The Walking Dead. But the 44-year-old actress has a welcome change coming: she plays the villain, Adele Pichlow, in Dumb and Dumber To (opening November 14) alongside Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Here she tells us what it's like to go from tears of sorrow to tears of joy.

Men's Fitness: I’m having trouble seeing Jeff Daniels [who stars in The Newsroom​] go back to that role. What was it like working with him and Jim Carrey?

Laurie Holden: It was phenomenal. I’ve known Jim for many years because we did a movie together, The Majestic, many moons ago. Jeff Daniels is a master. He can do anything and I think, after Newsroom, he loved going back because the script was so good. And I think the Farrelly brothers brought together so many elements that created such magic, and when you see him in this movie it’ll literally be like no time passed. 

MF: How similar is the movie to the first? And how does it differ?

LH: Working with Jim and Jeff was like being in a master class of all things funny. I mean, I got such an education. I have never been on a set before where literally the script almost went out the window every day because there was so much improvisation. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, but it really does honor the original. It’s 20 years later, but it’s almost like the next day because their characters are picture perfect and there are so many elements from the original movie that are carried through to this one that I think fans are going to be absolutely thrilled. 

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MF: Did you improvise a lot? Was that asked of you?

LH: Yeah. If they’re going off script and making stuff up, then I have to follow suit. I liked that, but I’ve always loved improvisation.

MF: What’s it like to play a villain, and is it better or worse than playing a hero?

LH: It’s different. I don’t think there’s an either or. I mean, I do know one thing, that after doing three seasons on The Walking Dead, it was so emotional and so taxing that I said to my team, "I’m gonna do a goofy comedy." I just wanted something funny, and they brought me the perfect movie.

MF: I was going to segue just a little to The Walking Dead. I’m new to the show; I’ve watched the first five episodes or so. Do you have any advice for a first-time viewer?

LH: Get ready to cry.

MF: What was it like shooting such emotional scenes?

LH: We were finding our way that first season and trying to find the real tone of the show, and I think what was so great about the first season is that we were all looking at each other like, "What are we doing? What is this?" And we all individually brought such gravitas that it kept raising the bar for each other. And as you watch every subsequent season, your heart’s gonna break many, many times, and I think that’s why people get so invested in the show. We play it for real.

MF: What was it like shooting in hot Atlanta?

LH: In a way it was torture. And I mean that with a smile, because it was 110 degrees with the humidity. It was not the best circumstances, but I feel like the weather in itself is one of the main characters in The Walking Dead. Many of us welcomed the heat, because it felt like it really added to the show. It really added to our given circumstances. I remembered that there were some days that it was actually kind of cool, and it was like, "Where’s the heat?" The suffering and the misery, and the need to survive - the heat really worked for us.

MF: What’s it like going to a slapstick comedy? Was it an easy transition? Or did you have to get in the groove of it?

LH: It was an easy transition. Like I said before, it was something I so wanted. I welcomed it with open arms. It was also very surreal for me, because I was used to sobbing my guts out and throwing up on screen, and being rushed to the hospital with dislocated ribs. To be in the slapstick comedy where I’m laughing every day, it was fabulous. It was a big ray of sunshine—a welcomed, welcomed, welcomed relief.

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