Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Negan in The Walking Dead and previously played in popular TV series like Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife and Supernatural. The actor talked with Interview Magazine about the season premiere of his latest project, about the pranks during filming breaks and about how he got to play Negan in TWD. There will be some spoilers from season 7 of The Walking Dead.
how he got involved with the Walking Dead show: I’d watched the show for years. It was one of the few shows that I would DVR and pay attention to; I’ve been working so much the last few years that I don’t watch anything very regularly but that was one of them. I’ve also been involved in lots of comic book stuff; I’ve done numerous films based on comic books and TV shows. I remember five years ago when they had written the role of Negan—when [Robert] Kirkman first introduced Negan in the comic books—I was at a Comic-Con actually, I think it was in San Diego, when somebody came up to me and said, “Have you seen Kirkman’s new book?” I said, “No,” and they said, “There’s this character Negan. You should be Negan.” Probably three or four months later, I actually did pick up a copy of The Walking Dead comic book, which at that point I hadn’t read; I had only followed the show. I picked up the introduction of Negan and thought, “Oh yeah, that would be fun to play.” Cut to five years later, I was doing The Good Wife and got a call one night from my agent who said, “The Walking Dead is offering you the role of a villain.” I said, “Well, what’s his name?” And they were like, “You know, they won’t tell us, it’s a secret.” And I knew immediately—I knew because I watched the show and knew where we were—and I’m like, “It’s fucking Negan! And I’m going to fucking do it.” [laughs] And really that was it. Then it was just about working that last episode last year into the schedule that I was doing on The Good Wife, and clearing a couple of days so I could go do it. We managed to do that and now here we are, a day before the big premiere.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan also talks a little about the season premiere: “Look, that whole episode was hard, and also because I did go through and smack everybody with Lucille at a certain point. Everybody took a hit. All of that was hard. It got to the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. … Emotionally I was completely drained—all of us were, I would imagine. Andy and I just went through the ringer. It was a hard episode, and having to get there time and time again to do these horrible things… They’re all good people, and I love them—the whole cast—so to keep riding them as hard as I was riding them, in-between takes it was like, god, you’ve got to catch your breath a little bit. It was just so fucking heavy at all times. In the show that aired, there’s no let up, and it was like that for 10 days for us. It wasn’t just 40 minutes of it; it was 10 days of that, every day, all day.”
on pranks on the set: Little stuff, but that’s really the two of them, Andy [Lincoln] and Norman. I drive a motorcycle, and Norman will respect the motorcycle more than anything else. We’re more in cahoots than anything else at this point, although I do kind of feel bad for Andy. I feel like I need to get Andy’s back and help him get Norman at least once real good.”
You can read the whole interview here.
The actor doesn’t have any future projects since he has his hands full with The Walking Dead but admits to missing the free time when he could paint or take photos.