It's hard to think of a more perfect casting for the biggest bad of The Walking Dead than Jeffery Dean Morgan. Not only does he carry the physically imposing structure to portray the Walking Dead warlord Negan, but he's a Comic Con regular and long time fan who's "always had a foot in the comic book world" according to the man himself.
So it's fair to say that we were pretty pleased when the rumors were officially confirmed that Morgan would be taking up the mantle of Negan, and picking up the particularly nasty looking wire wrapped baseball bat (affectionately named Lucille) in the process.
Of course this is really bad news for our Survivors, especially fan-favourite Glen Rhee (Steven Yeun) as in the comics his ultimate fate is all tied up with that of Negan, and a certain Lucille. Even Morgan himself says he doesn't know what the end game is regarding Glen and Negan (though he has met Steven Yeun on set), so we'll just have to wait this one out and see what happens as the show continues to unfold.
But it's good news not only for Morgan himself who, being a fan of The Walking Dead comics, knew immediately that he had to take the role when offered. And he certainly seems excited about it, if his recent EW interview is anything to go by:
"I was like, "Absolutely. We’re going to f—ing do it!" And that was it. And literally a week later I was in Atlanta talking with the cast and hanging out..."
Describing Negan as "special in a lot of ways", Morgan hasn't wasted much time in digging into the particulars and "complexities" of the character. Because, though he's a sadist who spells Bad News with a capital B N, he's not inherently evil. He certainly has a pretty skewed moral compass, but then doesn't everyone in the post-zombie apocalypse world?
It's certainly going to be a challenge playing Negan, Morgan says, as the brutal war-lord is slightly different to the "good guy" characters he tends to play. The biggest challenge for Morgan will be finding the heart within the archetypal bad guy, as he says:
"I've kind of become accustomed to playing sort of the good guy. You know, maybe a rough exterior with a heart of gold in there somewhere. I think the challenge for me in this role is going to be: Is there any heart in Negan? And for me, I look at that as a challenge as an actor and that's the kind of thing I embrace and really look forward to."
And as if we weren't convinced enough that Morgan is perfect for the role, The Walking Dead comic book and series creator Robert Kirkman says that witnessing the actor bringing Negan to life for the first time gave him goosebumps.
"Seeing Negan come to life in the form of Jeffrey Dean Morgan is definitely a high point, if not the highest point [of the show]. Seeing Negan is a big deal. I think fans are going to be very pleased with the portrayal that Jeffrey’s come up with and the way we’re handling him in the show. It’s gonna be awesome."
Well, we're sold.
There's still no official line on when exactly Negan will be introduced to the show, although his name is now on the official supporting cast list for The Walking Dead season 6 so he'll definitely be showing up before this season ends.
His appearance was first teased in the post-credits scene of the mid-season finale - Start to Finish - when an armed group of Saviours confront Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green), telling them that their possessions now belong to Negan.
In the comics he first shows up in issue #100, Something To Fear, the events of which take place shortly after the Walkers overrun Alexandria. Which means we can certainly expect to see him showing up soon.
Watch out Survivors, that baseball bat spells bad news...