The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan still encounters hate for his role as former big bad Negan, but the star says fan hatred has eased some as result of Negan's dynamic with Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming).
"The introduction to my character was rough, yeah, and I totally understand the hatred that I still get," Morgan said on Conan. "And then I spent the last year — in show years I think it was seven years, I think, approximately Negan's been in the slammer — and among other things, he formed a relationship with the youngest Grimes, Judith Grimes, who we now see is like an 11-year-old girl. So you see a different side of Negan."
Though Negan has mostly reformed after being defeated and subsequently imprisoned by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Season 8 — a change helped along through his friendship with Rick's daughter and rehabilitation efforts made by Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) — Morgan admitted, "I don't know that there's a lot of redemption to be had for a guy like Negan."
"We know the pre-apocalypse life he had, he was a teacher, he worked with kids. I think he has a certain affinity towards kids anyway, and he really likes Judith," Morgan continued. "And I think seeing that side of him has done a lot for his reputation with fans, maybe they don't want to kill me as much as they used to."
What can we expect from Negan in Season 10? "I think what we can look forward to this year is [he's] out of jail, for one. Which way is he gonna go?" Morgan teased. "I've been having so much fun this year, because now that we have seen different sides to him — we know the dark side, the really kind of rough leader and what he's capable of — and then we saw him interacting with Judith, and you see another side of him."
In Season 9, when confronted by Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — widow of Glenn (Steven Yeun), one of Negan's victims murdered with baseball bat Lucille — audiences saw yet another side of Negan when he begged her to kill him. Now that he's sometimes let out of his cage, we're going to see "full Negan."
"That was all truthful, that wasn't Negan trying to put on a show. So if you put all that together and then you've come out of it at the end of this year, you start to see this other side to him," Morgan said. "But the great thing is we're gonna get Negan back. Full Negan."