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Jeffrey Dean Morgan Is Giddy Over Playing 'The Walking Dead's' Negan, 'We're Testing AMC's Limits'

By Cindy Davis | The Walking Dead | December 9, 2015 |

By Cindy Davis | The Walking Dead | December 9, 2015 |

Most Walking Dead fans are pretty satisfied with the series’ casting choice to play one of the comic’s big villains — baseball bat-wielding Negan — but it sounds like no one is more excited than the actor, himself. In an interview with EW radio, Jeffrey Dean Morgan aka Watchmen’s Comedian said he was already a huge fan of the AMC series, when after Watchmen and a few Comic-Cons, people started suggesting the actor would be a perfect fit.

“So a couple of years ago people started saying, ‘Hey, man, you should be Negan in The Walking Dead.’ So I started reading the comic books just because I’m a fan and I love what Kirkman is doing and so I was very aware of Negan and had read quite a bit of the comic books. “

Being offered Negan seems kismet; Morgan has no need to practice his swing. “I grew up with a bat in my hands.” Later on, after his manager and agent told him about a Walking Dead offer for some secret role — “the new big bad” — Morgan knew right away who the character was.

” It was no question. I was like, ‘Absolutely. We’re going to f—ing do it!’ And that was it. And literally a week later I was in Atlanta talking with the cast and hanging out.”

And by cast, does he mean Steven Yeun aka Gleen Rhee — ***Swipe to read comic SPOILER*** whose head Negan bashes in with a baseball bat he calls Lucille (“She is a beautiful girl.”) END SPOILER*** — and Chandler Riggs’ Carl (with whom Negan develops a complicated relationship), and will the series events follow what Kirkman’s comic set forth?

“I met everybody. I got a chance to say hello to everybody down there. That being said, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. [Laughs]”

With Negan, the question of violence or profanity barriers inevitably comes up (it’ll be interesting to see how AMC deals with this for Preacher as well), Morgan is über excited and ready to push the network limits.

“The character itself is going to be as close [to the comic] as humanly possible. Negan is special in a lot of ways and the more kind of digging I do into Negan, the more excited I get. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been this giddy about doing a role. I think what’s there in the comic books and the graphic novels is this foundation of this man and the complexities of who he is. Every time I look at the graphic novel — which in the past few weeks next to my bedside I’ve just had stacks of Walking Dead stuff; and so when I’m not memorizing my Good Wife lines and trying to figure that out I’ll just grab one of these things and look at it — and I will read and reread and see something different in it each time. Kind of the excitement level of bringing this guy to life is at such a peak right now, I don’t know how I’m going to survive till April.”

And what about all that cussing?

“Look, it’s a speed bump. I’m not going to say it’s an issue because they’re working on it. We’re going to push AMC — the plan is to push them as far as they can because it’s who Negan is…It’s our intention that this character is going to leap off the pages of the comic book…Negan is a guy that you want to keep as true as possible, and that would be how I want to play him as well.”

Morgan’s excitement is damned infectious; after reading that, I’m practically frothing at the mouth for TWD’s return. A little terrified too (I’m still not over that Terminus trough scene), but mostly excited.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC next February.

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)