Jeffrey Dean Morgan says he gets real life hate for his portrayal of skull-bashing bad guy Negan on The Walking Dead.
Asked if he feels haunted by the loathsome character, Morgan told the Press Association, "Yes, right now in my career, absolutely."
Morgan said he is "kind of the opposite" of the bat-wielding villain, explaining, "I don’t want to say I’m a super nice guy all the time, I don’t want to screw up anybody’s nefarious bastard outlook on me, but I am not the character that I play on television."
"It is not a documentary but it seems that everyone has forgotten a pretty substantial body of work that I have done before the show that I am doing now and the character that I am doing now on television," Morgan said of the zombie series, where he's served as the primary villain over the past two seasons.
"Really I have people look at me as if I am going to take out a baseball bat and crack them in the head at any given moment so as much as I kind of like that respect that I get now, or maybe lack thereof – I get a lot of ‘screw yous’, only not that nice, from across the street.
"I can see men come up to me and size themselves up, like they are going to take a swing at me because I maybe hurt one of their favourite characters on television, which I always find slightly amusing.
"And God forbid if I look on social media and the hate that I get there," Morgan said.
"It’s not all the people" who spew hate, Morgan noted, "just half the people."
"Half the people think that I’m dandy, the other half not so much, but that is OK. When you’re playing a nefarious bastard that kind of comes with the territory and you have to embrace that and I have," Morgan said.
"I think that a lot of people have maybe followed my career and those are the nice people but if you were just a Walking Dead fan then you pretty much hate my guts."
The 51-year-old actor is also well-known to Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy fans, and just as admired by viewers who recognize Morgan for his time as Jason Crouse on The Good Wife or as Ike Evans in the short-lived Magic City.
But the actions of the larger-than-life and easily hateable Negan, arguably Morgan's biggest and most recognized role yet, have followed the actor off screen.
Morgan plays Negan so well it's added some expectations for audiences going to see Rampage, the now playing blockbuster where Morgan's Agent Harvey Russell teams up with primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) to ward off an attack by multiple stories-high monsters.
"As soon as I walk on the screen in this film they are going to assume that I’m probably not a decent fella," Morgan said. "Is it important that I play something other than a nefarious bastard? Yes it is, but I think more than anything I would have been happily cast as a bad guy in this film, just to work with these people and work opposite Dwayne."
"Now I get to be a little bit of a hero, or at least help the hero save the day," Morgan said, "and hopefully I can get all those Walking Dead people to go see this."2comments
Morgan admitted to Entertainment Weekly shooting The Walking Dead and Rampage simultaneously lead to some Negan accidentally slipping into his performance as Russell, but the OGA Agent is nonetheless not an apocalyptic overlord.
Rampage is now playing. The Walking Dead airs its season 8 finale tonight at 9/8c on AMC.