Jeffrey Dean Morgan on TWD: ‘I’ve never been a part of anything to this extreme’

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

[From USA Today and 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.



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58 Responses to “Jeffrey Dean Morgan on TWD: ‘I’ve never been a part of anything to this extreme’”

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  1. ichsi says:

    I had the hugest crush on him when he was on Supernatural but yeah, it cooled off relatively quickly. Not even sure why, I don’t like smokers either but let’s be real: most actors are. I always liked how he embraced becoming famous at a relatively late age, but he’s also pretty skeevy.

    • HeidiM says:

      You’re right, most of them most. Even those that appear health conscious. Captain America and Superman are both smokers.

    • katie says:

      How r the producers showing contempt to the fans? This is straight from the comic, Glens death was written yes ago and they followed it to the tee. They are not always going to make all fans happy but don’t poo poo when you’re no fan poo.

  2. Petrichor says:

    I’m with you on the smoking, CB. I’ve always liked him, but now I look at the pictures and all I can think of is how much he must stink.

  3. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    JDM is a great actor, but yeah – he looks like a heavy smoker. I can smell it on him from here.

    Cele, you have my empathy. I get very sick being around smoke. It’s an awful feeling,

    • MC2 says:

      Ex smoker here and the smell of them make me nauseous (very glad for that actually). People don’t seem to get it- I am not being judgemental or turning up my nose by not wanting to talk to you while you smoke. It makes me feel so sick.

    • Meee says:

      As someone who is allergic to smoke, just being near a smoker, even if they aren’t smoking right then, makes me have a reaction!

  4. Sixer says:

    NOTHING could put me off Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Even smoking. Even Lucille. He is almost as hot as Idris. I shall be most upset if this new-found mega-fame turns up horribleness about him.

    • Snowflake says:

      Yes, girl, they’re fiiiine

    • Lindy79 says:

      Always swore I’d never date a smoker..then i met Mr Lindy. He gave up eventually but i let him make that decision. He still smokes cigars occasionally.

      JDM’s accent in PS I Love you didn’t put me off and i find bad accents way more of a deal breaker

      • Bonzo says:

        Lindy, you’re in Ireland, right? Isn’t smoking a lot more common across the pond? Here, it’s pretty easy to hold that standard, but it seems it would severely limit the pool in Europe.

        Good for him for kicking the habit. Sounds like a tough thing to do.

      • Sixer says:

        We’re all vaping in the UK these days, Bonzo. Down to 19% of adults being smokers. I would probably be a vaper had I not given up smoking before vaping existed. It’s the most awful and hardest thing I’ve ever done – and I was in my mid-twenties when I gave up so hadn’t even being smoking for *that* long.

        Not sure about Ireland though.

      • MC2 says:

        Sixer- me too. I quit and felt like I was in a bad movie about coming off heroine! Not to compare the actual addictions & trying to get off/stay off but I was shocked at my physical and mental reaction to trying to quit. I had the shakes, sweating, sick as hell- it was horrible. And then I still wanted to light up for a couple years after……

        So happy for vaping- at least it isn’t as bad for the smoker & the people around them.

      • TotallyBiased says:

        MC2–don’t feel bad, nicotine is actually MORE addictive than heroin!

    • lightpurple says:

      Nothing? Not even playing polo with royals?

    • lannisterforever says:

      You have great taste – I agree on both him and Idris. I’ve been rewatching both Grey’s and The Wire lately so my crushes on both are back in full force!

    • Lilo says:

      I got it bad for him since Supernatural. Ay, Papi!!! And the smoking, well, that voice tells the tale. Hope he quits, but he’s not the type, he goes down smelling like an ashtray.

      He’s been online yesterday, he tweeted Jensen Ackles (his SPN son, Dean Winchester) and they had some good laughs about John Winchester going rogue bashing heads in and Dean finding Lucille in the Imapala :D :D

    • jen says:

      Yes. Agreed. I will always love Dad Winchester.

    • Angel says:

      Honk for Jeffrey!

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      Actually, that’s one of my fantasy castings: Idris and JDM together. I don’t care about the story as long as they have most scenes together.

      • jetlagged says:

        They have been in a movie together, along with Chris Evans. Movie itself wasn’t great, but it was well worth watching it just for those three sharing a screen. Is it hot in here or is just me?

    • V4Real says:

      I’m with you Sixer. Nothing will put me off JDM. I still find him sexy as hell. I owned the movie he did with Chris Evans and Idris Elba called “The Losers”

      I use to smoke but I quit. However I do have friends who smoke and they do not stink. Maybe it’s because they smoke outside and not a closed in environment.

  5. Nancy says:

    I think Jeffrey was the perfect choice for Negan. He resembles the character in the comics. You know someone is a good actor when you hate the villain, because that’s his job. I pardon his smoking because in stressful times I go to my hiding spot and pull put my cigs and lately I’ve been puffing up a storm. Hint to ladies who wanted a divorce for salvation and then decided to try again. Believe in your first instinct, it’s usually right.

    • Kitten says:

      I don’t know anything about the comics but I just watched the first episode of S7 last night. And yes I’m always behind which sucks because it means I can’t be part of the posts around here because spoilers.

      But holeeeeee crap. It was terrifying. And I know people hated it but I thought it was pretty amazing. I also like gory stuff and love to be scared so….

      Oh and yes, JDM is absolutely PHENOMENAL in that role. My jaw was on the ground watching him.

      ETA: Nancy you got BACK with him? when?

      • Nancy says:

        Complicated situation Kitten. Love doesn’t conquer all. JDG is slick man, he slayed on the premiere……lol. I figured you hadn’t seen it since I didn’t see any comments from you. I will be right back on Sunday night squirming in my seat, hear it’s going to be a lighter episode, as light as this show can get I guess. TGIF, have a good weekend and all of the other Friday clichés. You will have to excuse me, I just have to have another cigarette….damn smoky treats!!

      • Kitten says:

        I get it. I have a pattern of getting back together with my exes and it NEVER works. Seriously took me four times of making the same mistake to FINALLY get that.
        You’re absolutely allowed nicotine during this trying time, Nanc. I’ll even let you borrow some of my stash because you might need the extra help ;)

      • Nancy says:

        Thanks Kitten. It’s all good, just a reason to smoke the cancer sticks. I’ll work on that too! Keep on walking with the dead, the show is awesome. If you’re a fan of the bizzaro, watch Gotham. I didn’t think I’d like it, but the naughty Penguin gives me life, the actor portraying him rocks. Don’t watch Bates Motel though, poor Norman went psycho and it won’t be fun anymore……………………..btw the less I talk about men these days, the better!!!

  6. Fran says:

    I still can’t believe she cut the Lvad wire…

  7. Hejhej says:

    I thought he did a great job in Watchmen. He’s a good actor.

  8. kri says:

    Excellent actor. I watched TWD for the first 2 seasons, but never after that. Just reading what happened to that show grosses me out. Great actors deserve great stories. And the level of pornographic torture that is shown on TV when there are still qualms about showing gay characters in a love scene bothers the hell out of me.

  9. Lalu says:

    He is gorgeous.

  10. Miss M says:

    JDM is very charming in person too.
    I liked him in Dupernatural and Grey’s anatomy too.

    • Abbess Tansy says:

      Yeah ITA, he was awesome as Denny on Grey’s and as the Winchester dad. This man is so hot to me.
      Usually I would agree with Celebitchy about smoking being a turn off, but JDM gets a pass from me, sorry. I can’t even pretend :-) .

      • Miss M says:

        I cried like a baby when Denny died…
        Yes, He is super attractive in person and he sat next to Norman Reedus during the comic con panel. They were smiling all the time and you could tell they were having fun!

  11. Angelica says:

    I think the watchmen was extreme, but a different kind of extreme. I loved hating him in that movie…JDM has a knack of making me feel that way. I absolutely hate Negan but I still want to see what he has in store for the show. I’m not into the show anymore currently, but hopefully he can reignite the fire…

  12. TotallyOld says:

    Kaiser, I agree with you so much about Andrew Lincoln. I know this post is about JDM who I think is a gorgeous hunk of man and he plays Negan perfectly. But, I also think Andrew Lincoln should be given some love at Emmy time. The man has played Rick for 7 seasons and year after year has acted his heart out. He is fantastic as Rick but often gets overlooked as the other characters have their moment in the sun and good ole Rick is pulling them together. I hope the producers see this year how he is perceived and put his name out there for recognition – he more than deserves it!

  13. jdm fan says:

    I have met JDM twice at cons, no cigarette smell at all. I expected it but nope.
    Although I also detest the smell I would have given him a pass because he is really a nice sweet guy!!

  14. Madpoe says:

    I still love me some papa Winchester tho’!

    Dammit Daryl! Stay down!

  15. Brandy says:

    I haven’t reached the point in the graphic novel/s where Negan shows up and bludgeons Glenn, but I will say JDM was one charming MFer – and if Negan is supposed to be a mix of terror and charm, he nailed it.

  16. KBeth says:

    That voice, he is a sexy beast.

  17. gatinha524 says:

    I will never understand Mary Louise Parker’s bad luck with men. That woman is a goddess, and seems like she has a wonderful personality and intelligence to boot.

    • Witchfortoday says:

      I agree… I heard an interview where JDM was asked now he met Hilarie Burton and he answered it was in 2009 on a blind date, the day before Mother’s day ( which is in May), then he went to Albuquerque to film something. HB gave birth to their son the next March which means to me she must have got pregnant on their second or third date…
      So, MLP’s been particularly unlucky in this case…or maybe not.

  18. Turtle says:

    JDM is one of those terrific actors who just never really breaks through to the public at large. A successful working actor, just not a celebrity.

    Otherwise, I can see the damage control for TWD shifting to people complaining about the violence. It’s not about the violence, although it was shockingly graphic and horrible to watch. The show has shown a lot of graphic violence. It’s the pervasive nihilism and the devoid-of-any-hope storylines that essentially never change. (I’m kind of off “American Horror Story” for similar reasons, even though, again, I like most of the actors involved.)

    • Milwil says:

      I think it used to be the case that JDM was just a working actor but I believe those days are gone. His name is on everyone’s lips now and especially since TWD after only two Episodes! He is a “celebrity”!

  19. Ari says:

    Mads is a damn chimney smoker and I will never give him up so I understand how this is not an issue for JDM fans HAHA

  20. Syko says:

    As someone who smoked most of her adult life, and has always worn bangs, I am really starting to feel like I don’t fit in here.

    • PimmsCupInAPimpCup says:

      You and I can sit on the porch. People don’t know how nice a Midwestern porch can be. We Buckeyes even put a heater out for winter, to watch the snow.

  21. Mrs. Odie says:

    I used to work on a TV show with an anorexic actress and she smoked all the time. They all have to watch their weight, so maybe that’s why so many of them smoke.

    I agree with him that the pain of the episode came more from Andrew Lincoln’s suffering. When he turned into a babbling, incoherent wreck over the thing with his son, it was HARD to see. He did an amazing job.