Holland Roden on Lydia’s Evolution, ‘Teen Wolf: The Movie,’ and Her Podcast

Holland Roden starred as Lydia Martin on MTV’s Teen Wolf. After six seasons, our favorite banshee is back in Teen Wolf: The Movie, which is now streaming on Paramount+. The actress has also started her own rewatch podcast, Howler Back Now!

The supernatural show followed Scott McCall, who is bitten by a werewolf in the pilot episode. We see him come to terms with his new identity, eventually becoming a True Alpha and forming his own pack, which includes Lydia. Now, the beloved pack is back to protect the town of Beacon Hills once again.

As someone who loved the original series as a fan but did not get to actually cover it as a journalist, I was thrilled to hear about the movie and my chance to speak with one of my all-time favorite casts about these characters. So it was a true honor to have Holland join me over zoom to reflect on her Teen Wolf journey, reprising her role, the challenges of portraying Lydia, being inspired to create her own podcast, and much more!

Photo: Tyler Golden/MTV Entertainment

To begin the interview, I had to ask the actress about her character’s incredibly powerful evolution.

“Girls, especially with the anxiety level that Lydia carried in high school, obviously ran pretty high, and so to see those types of women evolve into their 30s, watch them be able to take a deep breath, and have a bit more perspective and pause — Lydia was a very observant girl for having such anxiety from all the banshee-isms and her friends being in danger. But it was just nice, as an adult, she still had her friskiness, I think, at the beginning,” she responded. “When she gets to go back to her childhood, she has that confidence and that quietness that comes with age, and so that was nice to be able to try out on Lydia for size.”

Roden played Lydia from the pilot until the very end, which does not always happen. There were plenty of beloved characters that we had to say goodbye to in those six seasons.

“I think it’s very tempting in this business to see the whole spectrum and every project you could be a part of, or potentially even have a chance to be a part of, and that is a dancing devil in my opinion because a bird in the hand of a working relationship that has a lot of trust and history is not lost on me and the success of Teen Wolf is not normal. I mean, I’ve gone on to do pilots that didn’t go forward. Other people have done their shows. I’ve done other shows, it is not the same. And so, that is lightning in a bottle and lightning will rarely strike twice,” the actress expressed to me. “That wasn’t lost on me, so I was really honored to be able to be a part of something that took up that much of my entire adult life, up until like five years ago. So I had four years without this chapter in my life but the majority, since I was in college, is this. So I’m just very, very grateful and lucky.”

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

Teen Wolf still has an extremely passionate fanbase, leading to the cast attending conventions and hearing firsthand how the show has impacted viewers.

“It’s a wild experience and it gets a little comfortable just cause you do sometimes take for granted that the world is an oyster or a block party and then you have to remind yourself like, that’s not normal because it does feel like such a family. We’re not Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, where we’re like, trampled on the street. I say that you don’t need security until you can afford security. The Teen Wolf actors cannot afford security, I’ll tell you that right now,” she jokes.

“We’re working actors, maybe some of us are names, but a lot of us are just working actors and even those names are still auditioning, we have to audition. I think the movie stars still audition to a certain extent, so it’s not as glamorous behind the scenes as it might seem and especially not for Teen Wolf. We were like a little show, we were not this big huge hit. We just had a very passionate fanbase and yeah, that’s all the more reason to be really grateful and it is bizarre to feel so loved. It’s a feeling you don’t get over. It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around it cause it’s like, acting is one department but then marketing is another department. Marketing is how people found the show ultimately and the love of the show is what kept them coming back but all the posters, the taxi tops, and the bus things, no actor is a part of any of that. You just see it one day and you’re just like, ‘Woah, okay.’ So it’s sort of that disconnect of like, I just do this and then here’s the result, and there’s this chunk missing that is marketing that we’re not a part of. So it’s literally hard to wrap your head around it because you miss the middle chunk, as the actor. And so it’s just like, ‘What, you found it?’ It’s mind-boggling, I think is the best term for it.”

As for reprising her role in the film, Roden told me how excited she was about the opportunity:

“It’s easy to say this sitting here, but I’d like to think — I really do mean this — that no matter what was happening in my career, personally, I’m excited that I would have made it work because I just value what that show gave me and it’s that simple, for me. I’m really grateful, especially as a woman, in my 30s, for the opportunities that this redhead gets. It’s not lost on me that Jeff single-handedly changed my life. I am forever indebted to him and not only am I forever indebted but I’m just excited because I love his writing. I think he’s a really talented writer and he’s a micromanager that one, he won’t let go of the reins. He’s building an empire literally by himself and he could build a bigger empire if he would just EP things. But he cares so deeply and he’s such a perfectionist, more so than I’ve ever seen, that he wants to be the man in charge, he wants his physical stamp, not just his approval, but he wants to be in the weeds on all of his projects. So I just really respect that from him and I get excited when I get to like be part of something that he writes.”

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

When it came to the series, the females were portrayed as strong leads rather than objectified, sidelined, or shown as the damsel in distress. That is a true rarity in television.

“I mean, that’s all Jeff. It was a bit of an oxymoronic experience just from the rest of Hollywood because I grew up in an all-girls school most of my life, so it’s like, I am a bit jaded in the fact that I always see females in power and I know that’s not always the case, at least in this country. Other countries, absolutely might be a different narrative, but in this country, I feel like I personally have grown up with the lens of absolute privilege in going to that all-girls school and only seeing females in power my whole life. And so, Jeff — the women just were not really objectified unlike most Hollywood shows,” the actress told me.

“He inherently already plugged something in that I had already lived with most of my life, so I think I’ve been lucky that wherever I turn, very often there is a female in power. I’ve never thought that was odd because that’s all I’ve only seen. When I do look at statistics like the Oscars and I see that seven women have been nominated as a director, that shocks me. It doesn’t really go, ‘That makes sense,’ I am truly shocked and when I see things like that, I think it starts not from the directing ballot, I think it starts with the five-year-olds. You need to put more women in STEM, I grew up with tons of women in STEM, but that’s not the norm, that was the exception going to a single-sex education. So I think it starts not at the top, it starts at the bottom and it starts when we’re kids. I do think that’s imperative and I can speak to someone who got to be in that lucky bunch of powerful women as a kid. Your whole brain develops differently, and I think I just inherently brought that to Lydia and Jeff grew up in a similar world where women had a lot of power. So we both were just two little niches that then put it on the screen because that was our experience. I am aware that that’s not the norm, but it’s still hard for me to believe because I’m like, ‘Is everything I’ve been told a lie? I don’t understand.’ So I’ve been pretty lucky I think, very rarely have I had the woman card pulled on me, for the most part, I’ve been taken pretty seriously as a human.”

As for what she personally took away from the character, Holland answered: “I loved her intelligence. I wish I was that smart. I would say I like the tearing down of walls. I understood people that could come off a bit colder, I think, from Lydia’s arc because I don’t have that in me. I’m like the opposite problem, I need to not overshare.”

Photo: Tyler Golden/MTV Entertainment

“I think people that are mean to other people, more often than not, maybe not all the time, but they come from a place of uncomfortability, unfamiliarity, and lack of trust. Once you can let those barriers down, there’s usually, for the most part, a benevolent person behind that barrier and that’s how I chose to play Lydia. There’s a lot of walls, so when a new person comes in, it’s like the wall would come up again.”

Of course, with every role, there are unique challenges and lessons to be learned for future projects. When looking back, there was one thing that stood out to the actress.

“A challenge for me, as an actor, that I struggled with Lydia was wanting to be liked. It came from a practical standpoint that I wanted a job and that can’t enter your stratosphere, and I think maybe, ironically, it probably helped me stay on the show,” she revealed. “So I think going forward on projects, not letting my desire for a job overtake the character’s path and it’s okay to be like, I want this challenge of I really want to be a bad guy and a believable bad guy in a project. But making Lydia likable was my challenge in the beginning because I wanted to stay on the show. Jeff took to it and was like, ‘You bring a lot of heart to this despite the snarkiness and the Lydia Martin attitude,’ so it probably helped me ironically on this job but that was such a foundational job for me. I think going forward, I have a different approach as an older person and just not quite as desperate as I used to be. But, yeah, it helped me with Lydia.”

In the movie, we got to see a very fun side to Lydia’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Jackson Whittemore, who is brought to life by Colton Haynes. In real life, the two are extremely close and have an amazing friendship.

“He is such a one-of-a-kind human. It’s bizarre. I’m really lucky to call him one of my best friends and this is not all that different than people coming out in real life, like look at Colton Underwood, so much of it is a facade. Yes, they’re the same person, but there’s a lot of differences of the real Colton Underwood coming out. And so, there is this pre and post-coming out that Jackson in the show, you know, a lot of that hypermasculinity, I think, was a cover for the real Jackson that came out, and the hostility towards Lydia that maybe wasn’t okay to a lot of fans. You see the genuine Jackson come out — that was not Colton’s personal coming out story, he was not hostile, but that was Jackson’s. So I love that Jeff wrote that into the script, and funnily enough, I shared this during the junket with a few people, but my grandmother, who has since passed, married a guy who ended up being gay and they were very good friends after they broke up, and they got divorced in the 20s. And so, it definitely happens, women fall under the guise of people not being honest with themselves and they allow themselves to think this person’s heart is gonna be open to me, and women all the time will accidentally date a gay guy,” Roden voiced.

Photo: Tyler Golden/MTV Entertainment

“I think that Lydia finds sort of the humor in it and that they do have a connection. It’s just like the Bruce Willis and Demi Moore friendship after you break up with somebody. You knew someone so well that waters under the bridge, all is forgiven, and there’s such a genuine friendship left there. I would love to see the middle story of that in those 15 years because we didn’t get to build that, it just had to be there. I had no idea it was gonna be as funny as it was. I knew he was the comic relief, I didn’t know I was going to get wrapped into it potentially so seeing the two of us on screen together, I was like, ‘oh my god, this is so funny.’ I didn’t know and when I watched the movie, I was like, ‘That’s kind of funny, the two of them together.’ I didn’t realize when we were shooting it.”

She then added, “Very few people do you ever get that comfortable with. I could literally do anything in front of him and it’s acceptable and vice versa. I’m so lucky to have him in my life. He’s everything.”

We then got into some of her Teen Wolf favorites, starting with her favorite storyline:

“I love the Eichen House in season four. A lot of people don’t take me as an action chick because I’m shorter, I kind of have rounder features, and I’m not super muscular but I did stage combat and I was a dancer my whole life, and a lot of the tall girls get to be the action chick. Scarlett Johansson represents, but she’s kinda one of the only ones and there’s Tatiana Maslany, but again, she’s a bit more of a sculpted chick, even being a little shorter,” she explained. “Scarlett Johansson is literally my mentor, and hopefully, Florence Pugh is also stepping in that direction. But it’s rare, you can count on one hand, and so I would love to have more of an opportunity for that kind of work and Eichen House gave me a taste of it.”

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

As for her favorite villain, her answer is simple:

“Nogitsune probably for me because I do think Void Stiles is such a great arc, but what would Void Stiles be without the Nogitsune? So, I think a lot of that subconscious love, or the very conscious love, subconsciously comes with the pairing of the Nogitsune, and how brilliant is Aaron Hendry? An actor you can’t see their face and their eyes? You could pluck this guy out of this movie and put him in any other creature-scary movie and you buy it, he’s great.”

In the movie, fans did find out that Lydia left Stiles to protect him after having multiple dreams that all ended with her boyfriend dying in a car crash. The two were a fan-favorite ship and finally confessed their love for each other in season 6. So what were Holland’s thoughts on this revelation?

“Well first off, I haven’t heard much about the movie, except just what Paramount gave us through the statistics. Then the one thing I did hear about that crossed into the Instagram barrier that I happen to see was that some of the fans weren’t happy with how Stiles was addressed in the movie. I think a lot of the criticism was like, ‘Stiles would have been there,’ and I’m like, well, okay, he wasn’t. It’s hard to have perspective for something you love so much, but, unfortunately, the pragmatic perspective is Stiles is not in the movie. That’s the reality and Jeff had a lot of storylines going on, it was already a very long movie, to begin with. There’s only so much room for something that can’t physically be there. And so, the fact that he really wanted to address the fact that they were together, I do think it was like a long-term relationship. I don’t know for a fact if they were married or not. I don’t think there was a ring on it, but I think that there was probably a very long-term, passionate, very committed without the ring relationship. I could be wrong. There could have been an engagement or a marriage that she walked out of, but that’s not the feeling I got, and everyone saying a dream is a cop-out, well, she’s a banshee, that’s literally what she does is dream.”

She continued to say, “She has foresight so a dream to a banshee is not like a normal dream, it’s like, that’s what’s gonna happen if you continue to stay with this person, one day, you will be his demise and you knew it. So to leave off of a dream, even for a banshee is like, ‘Am I really about to leave the love of my life over something that I’m hunching?’ But she took it as like, no, this is not a hunch, it’s a warning. There were two performances, one was a bit more emotional and one was a bit more drawn back, and Jeff chose the more drawn-back delivery. So that was Jeff’s choice, that he wanted it very small, he wanted it told that way and that is my job as an actor to give that to him, and that’s what they chose and so would people have liked the other performance better? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not, but Jeff and other people have seemed to like this performance and so that’s the one that sticks. Not everyone is always going to approve and that’s tough as an actor, absolutely tough as an actor, but it’s the reality. So you can only give what you give and then the boss puts a stamp on it, and he had a lot of things going on and I think he did a great job of addressing the reality of Stiles and Lydia, and her being a banshee and what she chose to do. So I personally liked what Jeff did.”

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“The movie had such a fast pace to it of so much going on. The exposition of the clues and what’s happening in all these different worlds, you can’t sit down and have story time with Lydia sipping tea and telling you the whole story of Stiles, so it’s like, where do you fit that in? And if it feels rushed, well everything was rushed, you’re fitting a nine-year show into a little more than two hours. There was only so much that can be addressed and again, with someone not physically being there, there’s only so much you can address in addition to everything else going on. So it was like, I think you can only do so much.”

The actress also mentioned, “I think, there’s a lot to tell to Lydia’s story, I’m sure every character thinks that but yeah, there’s definitely more to explore with Lydia and what took place between those 15 years.”

One of the most devastating deaths in the series was Lydia’s best friend, Allison Argent. In the film, Crystal Reed returns and the character is brought back to life.

“I think a lot of the draw was throughout the movie when she’s just in disbelief and, obviously, incredibly hopeful and carrying a lot of that emotion from scene to scene of just like, what’s going on,” Roden shared. “Staying in my lane with my character and how heavy bringing that weight to it with Scott. Lydia has a lot more heart, I think, in the movie, has calmed down and really appreciates all her childhood friends.”

After wrapping Teen Wolf, there was a surprising prop she decided to take home with her.

“From the show, I took an hourglass. That sits on my bookshelf at home. Since I was a little girl, I hate labels. I don’t like anything that says stuff on it,” she commented before telling me the story of the one time she bought a designer bag. “So I don’t like anything that would say Teen Wolf on it.”

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

She also informed me that she and her co-stars would watch the show together while they were filming it: “We all watched at Jeff’s house. He would order pizza and we would all watch at his house for many years.”

In January, Holland’s Howler Back Now podcast premiered and allows fans to fall in love with the show all over again.

“I love talking, obviously, and Oprah’s a big inspiration for me, and so I’ve watched every single Oprah show and I think talking to people and hearing stories is one of my favorite reasons to exist in the world. History was my favorite topic,” Roden replied in regard to what made her want to do the podcast. “Anecdotes were my way of learning. And so, when podcasts started to blow up, I wanted to make one about Van Life and, unfortunately, my public and my career has nothing to do with Van Life. I did notice that on YouTube, some of my favorite people on YouTube have podcasts and I’ve noticed myself being like, ‘Oh, I need to listen to the podcast.’ And I thought, well, there’s a big Teen Wolf crew out there and they all want something in addition to the show — this was before the movie was announced or came around. So this last year, right before the movie was announced, I had this idea for a podcast and I thought, ‘you know what, this could be a chapter at least that somebody can dive into,’ and the cast is the tip of the iceberg. There’s so many other people behind Teen Wolf that you’re seeing their work, but you’re not hearing their stories. And so I thought, ‘Okay, great platform to do that then.’ That’s kind of how it started.”

The actress will not only rewatch every episode from the very beginning but will reunite with the beloved cast and the crew!

“I like two, three-hour type interviews as well that you get to see what makes a person tick and get to understand why you love what they did, what they created. And so, it’s my favorite part about the podcast,” she stated. “That’s a tool that I’m using to then get to know the person more, so it is a rewatch podcast, but it’s really about learning more about the people that made Teen Wolf.”

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

“We don’t just stay on the Teen Wolf topic. You really are getting to know that person and I have to do research about my friends, which is pretty nuts. Then, we pull a little rabbit out of the hat, it’s always fun, they’re like, ‘What?’ You get to see them relive those memories.”

So far, her guests on Howler Back Now have included Colton Haynes, Jeff Davis, Shelley Hennig, Tyler Posey, JR Bourne, Ian Bohen, and Jill Wagner.

“I’m a little worried because Teen Wolf is so international with a non-English speaking part of the world, and I don’t know how podcasts work and I want to reach those very avid fans there too. I’m a little nervous of how can they get the podcast and understand the podcast? And so that’s where my head is at just reaching the fanbase that is Teen Wolf and not excluding other people in other parts of the world, so that’s kind of where we’re trying to figure out,” Roden admitted about the process. “I work with a very big podcast company and there’s not really a clear answer for every country, so we’re trying to figure out that aspect of it, so business will hit you eventually. So the podcast passion-wise has been amazing, but business-wise we’re just making sure that everybody who loves Teen Wolf has access to this and can understand it.”

Additionally, the actress let me know which podcasts are her personal favorites: “I like Scamfluencers. My podcast agent, Adam Loria, actually got me on Scamfluencers. Shoutout to Adam! I love Here’s the Thing, I love SmartLess, I like The Compound and Friends, which is this financial one. I like Mad Money. I like a lot of financial podcasts and Bitcoin podcasts. I love Eamon and Bec’s podcast. They’re a Van couple that just stands for a lot of good things in this world and an incredible representation for what they, at least choose to share on their channel, of love, resourcefulness, and like a true teamwork kind of couple. I would say that’s a good collection of them. I like stuff from Wondery, stuff from iHeart Radio. There was one called Caliphate that was really good as well from this The New York Times reporter. That was one of my favorites as well. I think Serial back in the day, I was definitely on the bandwagon but I don’t traditionally do true crime. I’m not a big true crime person, I’m more like self-help and stories.”

She concluded, “I think that’s just who I am. I just have to lean into what interests me and what interests me is — nothing satisfies me more than a Q&A after a movie with the director. This is the Q&A that maybe nobody asked for but I’m gonna give them. I think that’s important when you love something to know why you love it and you need to know who is behind those things, and you get to see our fun-loving press personalities but you don’t really get to know a person in a short interview. There’s so many beautiful souls on Teen Wolf and that have been a big part of the show and some of them, you don’t really know at all.”