Jeffrey Dean Morgan on keeping The Walking Dead's Negan close to the comics
One of the biggest and baddest villains from Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" will be making his debut at the close of The Walking Dead's sixth season and it's something that fans have been both looking forward to and dreading for quite some time. Negan, the leader of a group of survivors called the Saviors, will be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the actor spoke with Entertainment Weekly about his enthusiasm for the role.
I’m really f—ing excited. I was familiar. I watched the show, one. But two, I’ve always had a foot in the comic book world. I grew up with my uncle’s comic books at my grandma’s house, so I’ve always loved my comic book reading. And then that took on a whole new level when I did Watchmen. I go to Comic-Con every year, generally with some project of some sort.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan on getting the gig:
So a couple of years ago people started saying, “Hey, man, you should be Negan in The Walking Dead.” So I started reading the comic books just because I’m a fan and I love what Kirkman is doing and so I was very aware of Negan and had read quite a bit of the comic books. So my agent and manager were on the phone and said, “The Walking Dead have offered you this thing,” but they didn’t have any information. They didn’t know the character’s name. It was all a big secret. And they sort of got halfway through the sentence saying “We don’t know the character’s name, he’s the new big bad…” and I knew immediately who they were talking about. They just got halfway through and I knew immediately who it was. It was no question. I was like, “Absolutely. We’re going to f—ing do it!” And that was it. And literally a week later I was in Atlanta talking with the cast and hanging out.
Although The Walking Dead is able to get away with quite a lot in terms of violence, Negan is known for his tendency to let the expletives fly as frequently as possible. Jeffrey Dean Morgan says that his portrayal of Negan "is going to be as close as humanly possible," but that the foul language has caused a bit of a speed bump.
Look, it’s a speed bump. I’m not going to say it’s an issue because they’re working on it. We’re going to push AMC — the plan is to push them as far as they can because it’s who Negan is. He uses some colorful language. And I use some colorful language. And reading the comic, it’s important. So we’ll see where that lands. It’s our intention that this character is going to leap off the pages of the comic book. It’s very important that that’s who it is. Some of the characters there’s much more leeway, but Negan is a guy that you want to keep as true as possible, and that would be how I want to play him as well.
Negan's weapon of choice is a baseball bat covered in barb-wire called Lucille, which Jeffrey Dean Morgan describes as "gorgeous" and "a beautiful girl." When asked whether he had been practicing his swing in preparation for the role, Morgan said "I don’t need to practice my swing. I grew up with a bat in my hands." That's our Negan! The second half of The Walking Dead will kick off next February.