The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan on Negan’s Redemption and “Genuine” Bond with Judith

The Walking Dead Season 10 will present more “Uncle Negan,” but star Jeffrey Dean Morgan promises the long-jailed former Savior leader hasn’t lost his edge even when developing into more of an anti-hero.

“Last year was a long year for Negan. And it was really, what, ten years? It’s been a long ten years, so I think Negan is gonna stretch his legs a bit, certainly,” Morgan said at San Diego Comic-Con.

“And as far as the redemption arc that he’s kind of been on — and I think it’s true, people ask all the time, is it real or is it an act he’s putting on? I think that Negan’s relationship with the likes of Judith is as genuine as it can be.”

It’s Judith (Cailey Fleming), the spunky daughter of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira), who is credited with helping along Negan’s growing redemption following his eight-year solitary prison sentence, during which time Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) made efforts towards his rehabilitation.

Come Season 10, as the conflict against Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the unpredictable Whisperers worsens, Negan is at one point made useful when he’s uncaged and teamed with Aaron (Ross Marquand).

“The thing about Negan is he is always going to be Negan,” Morgan added.

“And now that he’s out of that cell a little bit — and as the season goes we’ll see what happens — he’s sharp, and witty, and a little bit cutting with the words he has to say, and we’ll see what happens if he gets a weapon in his hands and what goes down. But he’s not gonna hurt Judith, I can tell you that right now.”

Asked if Negan sees the late Carl (Chandler Riggs) in Judith, Morgan said, “I think a little bit, yeah.”

“I think that Negan, he genuinely likes kids. He has issues with adults — it’s a little bit like me, actually — but he really likes kids. It’s not just Grimes children. I think he has an affinity towards [kids], he was a teacher before the apocalypse,” he said.

“But I think, definitely, yes, I think that there’s definitely some stuff that he sees in Judith, it is very Carl. And you know, we didn’t play that storyline out as much as I had hoped with Carl, certainly, and thankfully we found this amazing actor in Cailey. Working with her, we got to play some of that storyline, some of the Negan-Carl storyline, she kind of took over that. And that has helped Negan find this road to ‘redemption’ that he’s kind of currently been on and kind of normalized him. But yeah, absolutely he does, yeah.”

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Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus hinted at a team up with Negan, saying at Comic-Con, “I think there’s a mutual understanding between those two characters. I think they might need each other at some point.”

The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.