Because The Walking Dead keeps even its actors in the dark, not even Jeffrey Dean Morgan — who plays incarcerated bad guy Negan — knows if the character will follow his comic book trajectory or somehow meet his end this season.
“No, no one tells you much on this show,” Morgan said on The Rich Eisen Show when asked if he’d know of Negan’s theoretical death before getting a script.
Asked if he likes the not knowing, Morgan admitted, “I hate it. Hate it.”
“I believe in kind of giving the actors as much information as possible — for one, it certainly helps us as actors figure out what our arc is for the year. If you can tell me at the beginning of the year kind of where I’m gonna end up that year, that helps me as an actor kind of create the story that I need to in each scene,” Morgan explained.
“But not knowing, it’s hard, it’s hard. Because you want everything to kind of connect and make sense. And this show’s never been really big on [sharing too much] — just because of the nature of the beast, and how many people would love to kind of spoil it for other people — we keep everything very tight and top secret.”
Like his comic book counterpart, Morgan’s Negan was jailed in Alexandria after his defeat at the hands of a merciful Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who spared the villain — a decision that sparked much controversy.
While the Negan of the comics found a sort-of redemption, emerging as more of an anti-hero, Morgan doesn’t know which direction his Negan will take — but said audiences are split on what should follow for the character after his murders of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun).
“It’s like a 50-50,” he said. “50 percent of the people are ready for Negan to meet a grisly end, and the other 50 percent are liking Negan and want to see, certainly, what else can happen there.”
Some fans are “absolutely” hoping to see Negan make an about-face and turn nice, Morgan said.
“I think they’re hoping for some redemption. And in the comic book, there is a slight amount of redemption. I don’t know how we’ll follow that story and if we will, because we do switch it up from the comic book to keep people that are fans of the comic interested in the show,” he said.
“But it’s certainly been an interesting year playing the different sides and finding new shades of Negan, and I very much have enjoyed that.”
Morgan had high praise for the reimagined show, which has since seen Angela Kang take over as showrunner from Scott Gimple and brought aboard several new writers to its creative team.1comments
“It’s a different year. We’ve got new writers and a showrunner, and everybody knows that Andy is going to be leaving at some point this year, Rick Grimes, so it’s a different year,” Morgan said. “But I’m very excited about it, I think that the show — the story and the writing has been top notch this year, and I’m very excited for the fans to see.”
The Walking Dead Season Nine begins Sunday, October 7 on AMC.