The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan admits filming the brutal season premiere almost made him quit
The highly anticipated season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead far from disappointed last night, as fan speculation was finally put to rest with the reveal of the victim of Negan’s barbed wire-coated baseball bat, Lucille.
The episode was as gripping as it was traumatising as we watched not one, but two major characters receive Negan’s brutal and bloody blow. And the devastating deaths of Glenn and Abraham were matched, if not exceeded, by the sheer torture the surviving characters were made to endure. The episode saw the villain force Rosita to stare at Abraham’s battered head, almost force Rick to axe off his own son’s arm and kidnap Daryl by loading him into a van.
Following the premiere, the new The Walking Dead villain Jeffrey Dean Morgan has spoken about his experience filming his first season on the show.
He told Interview magazine: “I love playing a villain. I think that there’s something freeing about that, and it’s a different kind of challenge. More than anything, for me as an actor, it’s about challenging myself and doing as many different things as I can.
“I don’t know that I feel comfortable playing a villain; as a matter of fact I probably don’t feel comfortable, which is why I like it so much.”
Morgan also insisted that Negan has more to offer as a character than just pure evil: “Negan is a trip though, man. He’s a brutal son of a b*tch, but there are also parts about him that I find kind of endearing. We’ll see if the audience responds to it.”
Certainly, Morgan’s portrayal of the villain was far from that of a one-dimensional bad guy. The brutal, emotionally-draining and twisted debut inspired fear and disgust, yes, but his dark sense of humour and calculated demeanour made Negan both captivating and compelling as well.
Morgan also explained how filming the harrowing scenes took its toll on cast members: “Look, that whole episode was hard, and also because I did go through and smack everybody with Lucille at a certain point. Everybody took a hit. All of that was hard.
“It got to the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore… Emotionally I was completely drained—all of us were, I would imagine.
“It was a hard episode, and having to get there time and time again to do these horrible things… They’re all good people, and I love them—the whole cast—so to keep riding them as hard as I was riding them, in-between takes it was like, god, you’ve got to catch your breath a little bit. It was just so f*cking heavy at all times. In the show that aired, there’s no let up, and it was like that for 10 days for us. It wasn’t just 40 minutes of it; it was 10 days of that, every day, all day.”
The actor finally hinted at what is yet to come for Negan in the coming episodes: “I think that as we get to know him and see him in quieter moments, you’ll see his charisma and his humour in a way that will be different than Lucille crashing into somebody’s face, which I think will help.”
The Walking Dead continues Monday at 9pm on FOX UK.