Nantz and Romo get their game faces on
“The Walking Dead” has been his television home lately, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is walking back to a former one to help it mark a major milestone.
Known these days as sinister Negan, the actor reprises the role of John Winchester – the father of demon fighters Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles) – as The CW’s “Supernatural” airs its 300th episode Thursday, Feb. 7. Titled “Lebanon,” the story is set in that Kansas town, where Dad resurfaces when his sons delve deeply into the occult to help them solve a dilemma. Kurt Fuller (“Psych”) also returns to the show as Zachariah.
“It was great,” the friendly Morgan says of rejoining the “Supernatural” cast and crew. “I became friends with Jensen and Jared when I was last on the show 12 years ago, and we’ve remained friends to this day. Jensen is the one who set me up with Hilarie (Burton, now Morgan’s wife); he and his wife Daneel hooked us up, so we’ve remained very close with them, but it was just great to get back on that set and be John Winchester again.”
Morgan maintains he didn’t need much preparation to reprise the role: “I just went, and as soon as I was there, I felt the Winchester blood going through my veins. The process of getting into character was a lot easier than I ever anticipated … and they have the same crew from 12 years ago! No one’s left. It truly is one big, happy family, and getting to be a part of the 300th episode was pretty awesome.”
While cautious about giving up too many story details, Morgan allows there are “a lot of unanswered questions with John and these boys. I haven’t followed the show for 300 episodes, but I know the John Winchester I played 12 years ago and I know who I wanted him to be. That has changed through the years, and through fans, I’ll hear about John and what he’s morphed into.
“I played him as a guy who very much loved his sons. Maybe he didn’t make the best parental choices, but I felt it was important that we answer some of those questions of who John is and why he did what he did.”
Taking John and Negan together, Morgan admits he’s somewhat astonished to be the actor behind two of the iconic figures in TV horror-fantasy.
“It doesn’t happen,” he muses. “People don’t get lucky enough to have one character like that, much less two. People will be talking about John and Negan until the day I die, I have no doubt about it. And, I got Hilarie out of the deal! I’m a lucky dude.”