The season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was difficult for even the most die-hard fans to watch. Various members of the cast had some difficulty playing their roles, Andrew Lincoln said he had to go home and sleep for a week for example. But did you know that Jeffrey Dean Morgan even had trouble watching the season 7 premiere?
Taking on the Role of Negan
As the new big bad on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan knew before the premiere was shown on TV that he was going to receive a ton of fan-hate after killing off two of the most beloved characters on the show. Killing off Abraham and Glenn opened up season 7 with mixed emotions for many fans. And now, armed with the barbed wired bat Lucille, Negan seems to have rule over everyone back at Alexandria.
Despite Negan’s usual method of only killing one person, he ended up killing two. (after Daryl attempted to fight back, which caused Negan to decide to kill Glenn.) And in addition to the gruesome murders, he also forced Rick to decide whether he’d rather cut off his son’s arm or kill his entire group. Fortunately neither of those things happened because it turns out that Negan was only trying to get Rick totally broken down.
The show’s level of violence managed to reach brand new levels with the introduction of Negan. There were some fans on Twitter and Facebook who have claimed that they will never watch the show again either due to the violence or the loss of two major characters. And while all fans of the show have been shaken by the tragic episode, most are sticking around to see just how Rick’s group will deal with the changes.
How Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Avoiding the Backlash
Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays the role of Negan, has been avoiding the public and the Internet lately. “I haven’t been out in public yet, and haven’t been on the Internet. I wanted to keep myself in a little bubble,” he commented to the Chicago Tribune the day after the premiere. When he ran into co-star Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon, he was informed “Oh, bro everyone hates you.”
During a recent interview, Morgan said that he accepted the role and the hate. “Not to say I want people to ate me, but to do a role that elicits that kind of reaction is a big reason why I wanted to do it. However, the more you get to know Negan, after this initial shock wears off, there are going to be aspects people will be attracted to. I really hope I can portray him in a way that people will hate themselves for liking him.”
As with any type of villain, Negan’s character has leadership abilities and loyalty to those he trusts. For Morgan, is used to living a quiet life as an actor, it is a bit of a shock to have his character and face posted on billboards all over the cityu.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing, to be honest with you.” Along the streets of L.A., Morgan’s character Negan is holding Lucille with taglines such as “We’re just getting started.” In response, the actor replied “I’ve never been a part of anything like this, to this extreme, and with the kind of viewership and fan base. It’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s quite bigger than I ever thought, and I watch the show.”
Bringing in the Charm for Negan
Although he is experiencing plenty of hate from fans, there are also many critics who love his portrayal of the iconic bad guy Negan. Morgan had trouble watching the first episode of the season. “I was there, I filmed the damn thing! I finally had to put it to the side. It was too much. For me, it wasn’t even the gore. It was what Andy [Lincoln] did, seeing it all through his eyes, seeing our hero break. He blew me away. I think it’s as much about his performance as it is going through the loss and the grotesque shots.”
Morgan reminds fans that if the show had been following Negan this whole time, then he would be looked at as the hero, as the “Rick Grimes” type of character, the star of the show. Negan’s rise is very similar to Rick’s rise as a leader. Both of these men are larger than life characters, and it will certainly be worth watching the show to find out how these two juggernauts face each other head to head and find their new spots in the world.