True story: almost nothing kills my crush on a celebrity like the fact that they’re a smoker. (See also: Liev Schreiber, Colin Farrell, although of course I still would who am I kidding?) I’m not a huge Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan but the fact that he smokes throughout this interview with the LA Times really makes me think of him differently. I don’t mean to sound like an elitist, it’s just that smoke makes me physically ill and I end up associating that with the person. So now I feel indifferent to JDM and his sadistic leader character, Negan, on The Walking Dead.
In the LA Times, Morgan talks about how the hype and publicity surrounding the show has affected him personally, which is not much – yet. He’s largely been sequestered since the episode came out. Also, we’ve been hearing about this character and about this premiere for so long that I didn’t even realize this was Negan’s debut. It’s like we’ve barely seen him and we already feel like we know him, but do we? The ratings for the premiere were through the roof so even if the extreme violence and the loss of favorite characters turned many of us off, this show will be around for years to come.
The piece briefly covers Morgan’s career, and as I’m not a Grey’s Anatomy or Good Wife watcher and I didn’t see that romcom he did with Hilary Swank I primarily know him from Extant and the few times we’ve gossiped about him. He has a six year old son with his wife, Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill), and they live on a farm in the Hudson Valley area of New York. (There’s some question about whether they first got together when JDM was still with Mary-Louise Parker.) Mostly, Morgan talks about TWD, and how his character would be considered the hero, not Rick, if we’d been following Negan’s crew from the start instead of Rick. I’m also including a quote from his interview with USA Today.
He had read the comics and knew all about Negan when he heard about the part
“When I was doing Good Wife, my agent called and said, ‘You’ve been offered this role on Walking Dead,’ and I’m like, ‘Who is he?’ ” The answer: “We just know he’s the villain.’ I was like, ‘It’s (expletive) Negan. … It’s got to be Negan, and if it is, we’re going to do it.’” – From USA Today
On if he’s noticed the fallout over the premiere
“I haven’t been out in public yet, and haven’t been on the Internet — I wanted to keep myself in a little bubble. But I saw [‘Walking Dead’ co-star] Norman [Reedus] this morning, and he told me, ‘Oh, bro, everybody hates you.’ ”
“Not to say I want people to hate 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.”
On the hype over TWD and his character
“It’s a little bit embarrassing… I’ve never been a part of anything like this to this extreme and with this kind of viewership and fan base. It’s a cultural phenomena. It’s quite bigger than I ever thought — and I watch the show!”
On the brutality of the premiere
I was there! I filmed the damn thing! My first viewing of it was watching it on my phone, and 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 did, seeing it all through his eyes, seeing our hero break. [Andrew Lincoln] blew me away. It’s a tribute to what a brilliant actor he is. To those people complaining, I think it’s as much about his performance as it is going through the loss and the grotesque shots.”
On how Negan could be a hero too
“This is a guy who has had a very parallel path to what Rick Grimes has had in order to get this far and have people follow him. If the show had been following Negan instead of Rick and his gang, then Negan would be our hero, and we would love and embrace him because of his charisma and wit.”
On the future of the show
There’s some really great storytelling coming. We’re certainly not out to offend people. But we are telling a story, and sometimes in this world there’s going to be things you don’t necessarily want to see. I still hope people tune in to see their heroes. Even I hope they win, for God’s sake, and I’m Negan!!” -From The LA Times
It really sounds like the actors are doing damage control for these episodes. They’re all touting the party line – it’s a great story, wait to see what happens, we’re not trying to offend people. They know they stepped in it, but given how arrogant the producers have been to date, will they have the sense to self correct, or will they continue to show contempt for the fans’ loyalty? It’s good of JDM to focus on the acting, though, and he really has been selling this show in interviews. As hard as the premiere was to sit through, the acting was phenomenal. Andrew Lincoln needs an Emmy and yet he’s never even been nominated. There’s a real movement to make that happen and someone even started a petition. Damnit now I want to see what happens next.
Oh and JDM has yet another interview in The Hollywood Reporter. You can tell he loves this character and this gig.
Photos credit: WENN.com