"It's a little blown out of proportion," Dillahunt admitted to The Hollywood Reporter.
It started with a tweet, sent by Dillahunt in November 2015, where the actor attached a photo of The Walking Dead Compendium Three, which collects issues #97 — 144, including the first appearance of bat-swinging bad guy Negan.
Reading material for the day: @TheWalkingDead
Just cause. pic.twitter.com/AIvktnk3XX— Garret Dillahunt (@garretdillahunt) November 2, 2015
"Reading material for the day," Dillahunt wrote, tagging the Twitter account for Skybound's Walking Dead comic books. "Just cause."
The tweet fueled speculation the Deadwood and Justified actor landed the coveted role of Negan — a role that would be filled by Grey's Anatomy and Supernatural star Jeffrey Dean Morgan just days later on November 10, 2015.
The actor explained how the tweet accidentally misled online speculators into believing it was a nod at landing the Walking Dead role:
"I was doing this show called Hand of God on Amazon, a pretty hardcore character there, and I knew Negan was coming up," Dillahunt recalled.
"I'm a fan of the shows. I've watched them pretty regularly from the outset, both of them. And I remember I had tweeted or did something... you know how old people get a hold of social media and things always goes wrong, right? [Laughs] And I tweeted a picture of one of the Walking Dead compendiums, and I said, 'Just a little light reading for the day.' And people went nuts because they thought I was inferring that I was [playing Negan]. 'Oh, that's the compendium that Negan is involved in!' You know? I didn't know this! 'Negan shows up in that, I bet he's gonna be Negan.'"
"Then I started looking at it, and I was like, 'That would be cool to be Negan,'" Dillahunt said.
Even without Morgan's casting, Dillahunt's Hand of God commitments ultimately would have kept him from portraying the Savior leader.
But as an admitted fan of both the flagship series and its spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, the actor kept in touch with then-showrunner Scott Gimple about someday saddling up in the Dead universe.
"That started a relationship between me and Scott, which might have led to this character [John], so I'm pretty happy about it," Dillahunt said.
The actor told EW an audition for The Walking Dead's ultimate bad guy "never really happened," adding: "There was some discussion about the possibility of it, but there was no way I could do that with Hand of God going on, on Amazon. Not that it was offered to me."
"I keep telling Jeffrey, 'It was always yours, man. I never could have got that part,'" Dillahunt said.1comments
Dillahunt now plays easy-going gunslinger John Dorie in Fear's newly launched fourth season, his sharpshooter cowboy swiftly proving a fan favorite character.
Fear The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.