Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who has had a mighty presence in films including Watchmen and The Possession, has been cast in probably the biggest villainous role possible for The Walking Dead.
Following an extensive casting search, AMC’s The Walking Dead has found its next major villain.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been tapped to take on the iconic role of Negan, the F-bomb-dropping dastardly character from Robert Kirkman’s comic series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The character, who sources say first will arrive in the season-six finale directed by Greg Nicotero, is the violent leader of a group known as the Saviors that uses force and intimidation to subjugate other communities — including Alexandria. Negan first appears in the landmark 100th issue when he crosses paths with Rick Grimes, who had been vocal about bringing down the man who takes half the community’s supplies in exchange for “protection” from walkers. By comparison, Negan makes David Morrissey’s Governor look like a fluffy bunny.
Negan — who went through the casting process under the name of “Orin” — has become the primary villain in the comic series since he shockingly killed Glenn with “Lucille,” a baseball bat covered in barbed wire that he carries with him at all times. He’s still alive, as of issue 145. Morgan first will join the series as a guest-star before being promoted to series regular for season seven. Morgan was one of multiple actors (including Timothy Olyphant, Matt Dillon and Garret Dillahunt, among others) who had buzz as being in the running at some point for the role, though no others received offers. Production on the season-six finale begins this week in Atlanta.
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple previously told THR that introducing Negan would be “challenging,” especially given the character’s penchant for F-bombs. “There’s a particular story in that arc that I’m very excited for. But because we know where we’re going, we have some opportunities to play around with it and put some things in that will lead up to [Negan and Alexandria] in different ways, yet fulfill the story Robert told to the nth degree by utilizing some slightly different approaches: lineups and timelines and the whole nine yards.”
Furthermore, part of the backlash against Glenn’s apparent “death” comes from die-hard comics fans who are upset that the series would “remix” Negan’s first appearance and Glenn’s ultimate demise in one of, if not the most, defining moment of the comics.
“That’s one of those questions that, any way that I answer, could spoil five different parts of the story,” Gimple told THR when asked why the series potentially may have killed Glenn off versus having his death come via Negan. “But I hope to show you. We will be showing it. You will be learning the answer to that question as you watch. If I were to answer it now, I would wind up revealing all sorts of stuff from different directions. The lame way of saying it is: You’ll have to see.”