After taking a swing at a Negan origin story to end Season 10 of The Walking Dead, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan knows fans still love to hate the ex-villain-turned-anti-hero. But the biggest Negan hater of them all is the widowed Maggie (Lauren Cohan), now calling a tattered Alexandria home sweet home after an undercover Negan helped Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers burn down the Hilltop. As she fights for a future for her son Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller) — the child that Negan's Lucille'd victim, Glenn (Steven Yeun), never got to meet — Maggie must once again step up as a leader of a group that begrudgingly counts Negan as a member.
"I don't know if ['Here's Negan'] will ever sway the people that hate Negan. I think they're just always gonna hate Negan," Morgan said of the Season 10 prequel episode during The Walking Dead's Season 11 panel at virtual San Diego Comic-Con. "I think if there were people on the fence, that may have turned them a little bit, but I think the opportunity to do that and tell that story was exceedingly special."
Filming the episode mid-pandemic with wife Hilarie Burton Morgan, who played Negan's cancer-stricken wife Lucille, was "certainly one of the highlights of my time here on The Walking Dead, which has been many a moon now," added Morgan. "I didn't know that I would be here this long."
Negan spent most of Season 9 behind bars, serving a solitary life sentence commuted by Carol (Melissa McBride) when she freed him to assassinate Alpha and help end the Whisperer War in Season 10. In Season 11, Negan is a free man but persona non grata in the otherwise tight-knit group of survivors trying to rebuild their devastated community.
"I think there's definitely an evolution of Negan. But I would be hard-pressed to say that old Negan will ever disappear, I think that will always be a part of who he is," Morgan said. "But I think that at this point, he is trying everything he can to kind of fit in with this group of people. And I think he was doing okay until Maggie came back, and now it's a whole new ball game for him, and one that he's trying to figure out. But I think at a certain point, there's just too much tension between the two of them. So we'll see what happens."
The Final Season of The Walking Dead premieres August 15 on AMC+ and August 22 at 9/8c on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.