Following an extensive casting search, AMC's The Walking Dead has found its next major villain.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been tapped to take on the iconic role of Negan, the F-bomb-dropping dastardly character from Robert Kirkman's comic series, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
Negan — who went through the casting process under the name of "Orin" — has become the primary villain in the comic series since 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. Morgan first will join the series as a guest-star before being promoted to series regular for season seven. Morgan was one of multiple actors who had buzz as being in the running at some point for the role, though no others received offers. Production on the season-six finale begins this week in Atlanta.
"What struck me, that I've always been excited about, is: We're coming into the sixth season of this show. ... And it's the medieval part of The Walking Dead comic, where you realize that there are these isolated communities, but don't really know other ones exist," said Lincoln. "But they're all building and forming themselves with their own image. And then there's a clash of those communities. That, to me, is really interesting and when it gets really exciting with all the action. It turns into this insane, near-apocalyptic landscape that we've never seen before. That is almost a reimagining and a restart for society and humanity. And that is such a rich thing to tell."
Speculation that Negan would appear in season six resurfaced after Luck alum Tom Payne 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.
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple previously told THR that introducing Negan would be "challenging," especially given the character's penchant for F-bombs. "There's a particular story in that arc that I'm very excited for. But because we know where we're going, we have some opportunities to play around with it and put some things in that will lead up to [Negan and Alexandria] in different ways, yet fulfill the story Robert told to the nth degree by utilizing some slightly different approaches: lineups and timelines and the whole nine yards."
Furthermore, part of the backlash against Glenn's apparent "death" comes from die-hard comics fans who are upset that the series would "remix" Negan's first appearance and Glenn's ultimate demise in one of, if not themost, defining moment of the comics.