Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays love-to-be-bad villain Negan on The Walking Dead, is regularly on the receiving end of inappropriate gestures from more hot-blooded fans.
“Especially right when the character was introduced. His introduction was obviously tapping a couple people on the head with his baseball bat — so that was the introduction to the character. We got to meet him that way,” Morgan said on Conan.
“For the first year — this is my third or fourth year on the show — it was rough. Whenever I go down the street, people are starting with the F word, going crazy on me.”
Morgan gets a lot of heat for Negan’s treatment of fan-favorite Daryl Dixon, played by co-star and real-life best buddy Norman Reedus.
“Norman and I spend a lot of time together. We both ride motorcycles and we spend a lot of time together off screen, and we go for long motorcycle rides,” Morgan said.
“And we were at one point in this little town called Noonan, just having a cup of coffee, and people will literally come by, ‘Daryl, we love you! Negan, [inappropriate gesture].’ And this lady — my grandma’s age — just double-fisted flipped me off. After being like this with [Norman], ‘I love you, I want to marry you, most handsome man,’ she looks over at me and just gives me two fingers. And I’m like, ‘Grandma! Come on!’”
Morgan told the Press Association earlier this year he’s “kind of the opposite” of his nefarious villain and regularly gets animosity for the role, having to point out “I am not the character that I play on television.”
“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,” he said when promoting monster blockbuster Rampage.
“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 favorite characters on television, which I always find slightly amusing.”
Morgan added he also gets hate come his way on social media, but pointed out it’s not all the people, “just half the people.”
Negan has since been incarcerated and as seen in a just-released clip, the ousted Savior leader has been practically neutered by his 18-month prison sentence. Morgan and showrunner Angela Kang said viewers will see a different side to Negan while the character could soon be on the path towards finding a sort of redemption.
The Walking Dead Season Nine premieres Sunday, October 7 on AMC.