Walking Dead's Andrea: What comes after S2's stunning cliffhanger

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Jan 25, 2016, 4:21 PM EST (Updated)

All of the characters on AMC's The Walking Dead have gone through hell in one way or another throughout the show's three seasons. However, when it comes to Andrea, played by Laurie Holden, season three offers her a chance to find happiness, if for just a short time, said the actress in an exclusive interview with Blastr.

"Nothing in Andrea's world is the same in season three as it has been in the last two seasons," said Holden. "And I no longer have the anchors I had before. I no longer have the comfort of that group. It just felt completely different. I love it as an actor because, as you know, I've played suicidal and bereft and angry, and this is the first time that Andrea's hopeful and dares to dream."

Andrea got separated from the group last season and was about to become zombie Walker food when she "was saved by a katana-wielding warrior. For those familiar with the comic books, that is the iconic character of Michonne," said Holden. "You'll see some pretty brilliant storytelling. You'll see these two women, these alpha females who really have each others' backs, are willing to die for one another, and there's a lot of love there. They're the best of friends.

"I love it because we both have strengths that complement one another. We probably take turns holding the other up, but we're two equals and there's a lot of respect and admiration for each other. I think it's the deepest friendship Andrea's ever had," she said.

In the new season, which premieres on AMC on Sunday at 9 p.m., some of the characters will find themselves trying to find safety in a prison, while some will head to a town called Woodbury which is run by the Governor, another character from the comic book series.

"I do find Woodbury. I come to the new town. That is a very surreal experience because it's too good to be true. Michonne and I come across this land where, for all intents and purposes, these people have not been affected by the apocalypse. People are walking their dogs. Pregnant women are walking around, with teacups in their hands, gardening. It's a land of hope, and I think it's the first time, as we're going into season three, that Andrea can breathe."

Woodbury? Hummm. Sounds a bit like Mayberry, doesn't it?

"I think that might have been a little bit on purpose," said Holden with a laugh, about the similarity in names between The Walking Dead's idyllic town and The Andy Griffin Show's small-town America from the 1960s.

"I just loved really exploring the lighter part of Andrea's spirit. She's had no lightness. It's so funny. My own mother says, 'Why don't you smile more on the show?' I said, 'Mom! The apocalypse, you know?'" she said.

"But I think that there are moments of sunshine, and that true smile that my mother's been looking for is in season three. Is that a spoiler?"

Probably not, since this is The Walking Dead. She'll undoubtedly be punished for those hopes and dreams and that smile.

"Everyone does get punished eventually. But for a moment in time, Andrea finds some happiness," said Holden.

"This is a season where Andrea's forced to make a lot of hard decisions. And it's complicated, and her actions and the choices that she makes have some pretty dire and severe consequences. It's real-life stuff. It's painful, it's very human, and at times can be unbelievably sad."

Sad is something Andrea has dealt with since the Walker Apocalypse took her sister in season one. Since then it's been a true evolution for this great character.

"To me it was kind of a dream, because it's so rare to be able to have an arc like that, period. Especially on television. But to go from being bereft and suicidal and having no will to live, and then becoming angry and combative ... For a long time, Andrea just did not even want to be there and behaved rather selfishly, which is very human. And then got kind of tired of herself and said, 'You know, if I'm going to be in this world, I'm going to be a survivor.' And she chose not to be a victim. And she chose not to feel sorry for herself. She picked herself up by her bootstraps and she learned from the best, the alpha males in the camp, particularly Shane, and she was determined and held the mindset that she was going to persevere," she said.

"The storytelling is very organic, and I feel like it's a real gift that it continues to be so organic and that everything continues to mean so much every day, every week, every episode. We take nothing for granted, and nobody phones it in."

When it comes to the other characters, "everybody this year has become very strong. There's a huge leap from season two to season three and Maggie, Glen, Hershel, Carl, Lori, Carol, T-Dog, Rick, everybody ... I mean, it really is like a family. These are tough survivors, and they're really holding their own. And I think you're really going to be rooting for them," said Holden.

"I feel like we've created a show where there's this apocalyptic circumstance and it's tangible. We can put a name and a face on it. It's the zombies and the fear that we're all feeling, and the survival aspect is something that I feel a lot of people can relate to because it's in our zeitgeist," said Holden, who herself is a human rights activist who focuses on childrens' rights.

"Who would have ever in a million years guessed that the world would embrace our show like this?" she said. "I mean, we all signed on for this little zombie show on AMC and somehow it became a real relevant part of pop culture. I think we just all feel very grateful and blessed. ... It's surreal."

Here's an interview with Laurie Holden at Comic-Con:

How long do you think Andrea's happiness will last during season three?