Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues his walk as Negan on ‘The Walking Dead’

Fanning Out

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Now, all he needs is wife Hilarie Burton as Lucille

It only takes three words: Negan is back.

For that matter, so is the entirety of “The Walking Dead” … with the notable exceptions of Rick Grimes and Maggie, since actors Andrew Lincoln and upcoming “Whiskey Cavalier” co-star Lauren Cohan recently left the AMC horror-drama. Season 9 of the series resumes Sunday (Feb. 10), and while those who have survived the apocalypse face a new threat, they still have to deal with the sinister Negan and his barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat Lucille.

Even after reprising the role of John Winchester on the 300th episode of The CW’s “Supernatural” – along with his runs on such shows as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Good Wife” — Jeffrey Dean Morgan admits he’s never experienced anything like the response he’s had from playing the “Walking Dead” ultra-foe.

“It’s been a crazy ride, certainly,” the friendly, easy-to-laugh Morgan muses. “I don’t think anyone expected Negan to take off like he did. He’s a polarizing character, for sure, and the fans either hate him or love him. There’s not a lot of in-between.”

For any knowledge he had of “The Walking Dead” before he joined it, Morgan notes, “You don’t realize how many people watch the show. I do now, but I didn’t when I took the job, and it could have gone one of two ways: Either they were going to respond to the character, or they were going to be indifferent, which happens to a lot of characters when they’re brought into any show. They just kind of get lost in the background.”

The chances of that were slim for Negan, especially with his lethal wielding of Lucille. The weapon is named for his late wife, and Morgan’s spouse – “One Tree Hill” and “White Collar” alum Hilarie Burton – hasn’t been shy about lobbying for that part if flashbacks or other creative decisions ever bring the human Lucille back to life.

“Look, I would absolutely love it,” Morgan confirms. “I think what you’d get there immediately is a relationship that doesn’t have to be wordy. She and I haven’t acted across from each other yet (though both were in the cast of CBS’ ‘Extant’); we have talked about it, and we’ve had numerous opportunities to work together … and thus far, they haven’t been right.”

However, adds Morgan, “Her playing Lucille, if we ever went back in time – and I hope we do, since we’ve certainly mulled it over and talked it over – would be the coolest thing in the world. There is no one I would rather act across from in that role than Hilarie. I love what she does, and I think she’s very underappreciated. She’s become a fan of the show, she knows that story very well, and I think she would kick its a… .”

For now, Morgan remains grateful for the impact Negan has had on “The Walking Dead” faithful and on his career. He maintains it’s also “a testament to the writers and the other actors. It’s one of those situations where you just get incredibly lucky.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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Feb 8, 2019 3:37 pm

I think this would be a bad idea for too many reasons to enumerate.

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