“The Good Wife” actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan has joined the cast of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the news Tuesday, Nov. 10, he’ll play the iconic villain Negan from Robert Kirkman’s comic series.
The F-bomb dropping character is the violent leader of a group known as the Saviors that uses force and intimidation to subjugate other communities, including Alexandria, and is described as being much more brutal than David Morrissey’s Governor. Morgan is expected to first appear in the season 6 finale directed by Greg Nicotero, which begins production this week in Atlanta. He will first join the show as a guest star before being promoted to a series regular for season 7.
Negan first appeared in the comics in the 100th issue when he crosses paths with Rick Grimes. He has become the primary villain in the comic series after he shockingly killed Glenn with “Lucille,” a baseball bat covered in barbed wire that he carries with him at all times. He’s still alive as of issue 145. Part of the backlash surrounding Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) apparent death on the show is from fans of the comics who were unhappy that they nixed the character’s ultimate demise at the hands of Negan, which is considered one of the defining moments in the comic series.
Speculation that Negan would appear in the sixth season of ‘The Walking Dead” began after Tom Payne (“Luck”) was cast as comics character Paul Monroe, aka “Jesus,” who eventually becomes a key member of the Alexandria community ahead of the war against the Saviors and Negan. The zombie drama has also repeatedly teased the character’s introduction including with a scene in the season 5 trailer depicting a member of the Terminus community poised to take a swing at Glenn’s head with a baseball bat. The beloved character also has been seen from time to time utilizing a baseball bat as a weapon, most recently during last season, when the series visited Noah’s (Tyler James Williams) home. According to TV Line, Negan went through the casting process under the name “Orin,” with a casting notice describing him as an “imposing, charismatic, brutal, frightening, ferocious and hilarious sociopath in his 30s to mid-40s that is both a leader (and killer) of men.”
Morgan, who is currently a series regular on “The Good Wife,” recently starred alongside Halle Berry in the CBS sci-fi series “Extant,” which was cancelled in October after two seasons. He also played the lead role on Starz’s “Magic City,” and had a memorable arc on “Grey’s Anatomy” as Denny. The actor is no stranger to comic book adaptations, having starred in the film version of Alan Moore’s graphic novel “Watchmen,” and plays Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father, in the upcoming “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” His new gig on “Walking Dead” will not immediately impact his role on “Good Wife,” but it makes it much less likely that he’ll return as Jason next fall for a potential eighth season as his deal was always only for season 7.