The Walking Dead stars Steven Ogg and Jeffrey Dean Morgan wanted Savior leader Negan and right hand man Simon’s final confrontation to be a “dirty” street fight — but AMC forced the zombie drama to keep it clean.
“Both Jeffrey and I wanted a different fight than what we ended up doing. We both wanted it dirty, we both wanted it [to be a] street fight,” Ogg told Red Carpet News TV at MCM London Comic Con.
“Especially when he takes me down — smash the head into the cement. Because that’s all you care about, is the audience believing that that is going to happen. Because physically, us standing next to each other in a fight club, yeah, it looks like I’m gonna probably crush him.”
The brutal hand-to-hand brawl sees Simon sucker punch Negan before laying into him with heavy hits. Negan retaliates with well-placed blows of his own, head-butting Simon and knocking his feet out from under him before choking him to death.
“But that was the whole point of — we wanted it dirty. A kick in the nuts, a punch in the nuts, something bad. But you’re told you can and can’t do certain things,” Ogg said. “So that’s why the eye gouge right away, we at least said Simon gets [a disadvantage] — once you’ve been poked in the eye, it throws you off. So that was sort of the thing that we hoped sold it, is that he was disabled by the poke in the eye and it allowed Negan to get the upper hand. And then again, [we] wanted a hard fall. So it was a bit of a compromise with what they wanted and what Jeffrey and I wanted.”
Ogg’s Grand Theft Auto V co-star Shawn Fonteno pointed out Simon should have met Lucille — bashed to death with Negan’s prized barbwire-wrapped baseball bat — because another scene from that same episode saw Negan order Simon to his knees.
“There was that one scene where he came behind me and I actually turned around and I faced him, and then they said, ‘No, no, we can’t have you do that,’” Ogg said.
Asked how Simon would have commanded the Saviors had he won the fight and killed Negan, Ogg said the Savior general “never really was interested in leading the Sanctuary.”
“I think he would have just started his own outpost if anything, you know,” Ogg said. “[He] wasn’t there to compete against Negan. He was just doing his thing.”
Simon is last seen in his reanimated form as a crazed-looking walker strung up on the Sanctuary fence before Michonne (Danai Gurira) reads Negan a letter penned by the late Carl (Chandler Riggs).
“I wanted it to be like this whole idea of, he’s still in sort of the ‘Fight Club’ scenario like a pit bull, and then slowly realizing... the zombie is settling in, that he then becomes zombified,” Ogg said of his walker performance. “But it was so quick, they just immediately smash cut to Jeffrey talking on his walkie talkie for six pages.”
The Walking Dead started pulling its punches more after the series was criticized over the gory deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the season 7 premiere, where the pair of victims were viciously executed by a Lucille-swinging Negan.0comments
Series producer Gale Anne Hurd later defended the bloody executions, saying the show was replicating issue #100 of the comic book to establish Negan as the prime threat and that such a level of graphic violence was never intended to be maintained moving forward.
The Walking Dead returns with its season 9 premiere this October on AMC.