'The Walking Dead's Jeffrey Dean Morgan Brought Some Negan To 'Rampage' Role

Rampage star Jeffrey Dean Morgan admits he brought some of his Walking Dead villain Negan to the Dwayne Johnson monster movie — albeit unintentionally.

Speaking to EW, Morgan explained his "Negan-isms" — like the leather jacket-wearing bad guy's tendency to dip back into a lean while speaking — slipped into his performance, the accidental carryover a result of putting in work on Rampage during the eight-month shoot on Walking Dead.

That busy schedule on the zombie series nearly kept him from joining the Dwayne Johnson-led blockbuster waiting-to-happen, Morgan said, but with both productions shooting in Georgia, the actor could do both; and his busy schedule lead to a tired Morgan interjecting some of the larger-than-life Negan into Russell.

"When I was watching the movie the other night, I saw a couple body movements that look kind of familiar, a little lean here and there,” Morgan said. “I was like, ‘Oh man, there could have been a little slop over there between Negan and Russell.’”

Morgan trades in his barbwire-wrapped baseball bat for a badge in Rampage, where he stars as Harvey Russell, an OGA (Other Government Agency) agent tasked with helping Davis Okoye (Johnson) save Chicago from giant, stories-high monsters.

The video game adaptation gave Morgan the chance to star as a good guy, a refreshing change for an actor worried his scene-stealing tenure as ultimate villain Negan on The Walking Dead might typecast him in the eyes of audiences.

“I think now as soon as I walk onto the screen, people are like, ‘Uh, oh, he’s going to be the baddie,'” Morgan said. “I don’t know that I would want to be a villain right now in anything other than what I’m doing."

“I worry that with The Walking Dead, people will only know me as Negan because it’s such a pop culture phenomenon of a show and character,” he explained.

“People have forgotten about all my other work as soon as I became Negan and they seem genuinely surprised that I don’t carry Lucille around and torture people in real life. So yeah, let me do something different.”

That aim to do something new aligned with a lifelong desire to take part in a monster movie, an opportunity he gleefully accepted when approached for Rampage.

“I grew up watching like Godzilla and King Kong, so one of the reasons I became an actor was so I could do a monster movie,” Morgan said.

“I hadn’t gotten to do a monster movie yet, and then, you throw Dwayne into the mix and I know his track record, he’s got a little bit of a Midas touch going, so it seemed like a no-brainer.”

Starring in a film alongside a 30-foot ape and accompanying oversized wolf and crocodile means "embracing the ridiculousness of it all," Morgan said, adding, "if you can embrace it, that's what makes the movie work. And I absolutely embrace all that — it's f-king killer."

"For me to be able to come in with zero pressure and just have some fun and kind of chew up a little scenery, that’s a great time for me.

"It really is a dream gig, just come in and have fun. That’s what moviemaking should be," Morgan added. "I don’t know, I think this might be my deal. I like doing monster movies. I don’t need to win an Oscar [laughs]. I like having fun.”

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The actor is hopeful he'll one day don the cape and cowl of Batman, albeit an alternate universe version, saying the role would be "the thrill of a lifetime."

Rampage is now playing. The Walking Dead airs its season 8 finale Sunday, April 15 at 9/8c on AMC.