Fans of The Walking Dead are excited about the impending arrival of Negan in the season 6 finale on April 3. And they’re not the only ones.
The man who created Negan, Robert Kirkman, talked to EW about watching the character come to life before his eyes and admits that “seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in costume, holding Lucille, saying lines — yeah, I don’t get goosebumps a lot, but that definitely happened.”
Here’s what else The Walking Dead comic creator and TV exec-producer had to say about the “intense, heartbreaking, and shocking” arrival of the ultimate villain.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So for those unfamiliar with the comic, what makes Negan different from some of the villains we’ve seen before?
ROBERT KIRKMAN: Negan is kind. Negan is respectful. Negan is psychotic. Negan is ruthless. This is a very nuanced character that has a lot of different shades to him. There’s a lot of honor to him. There’s a rule system in place. I think he’s unlike anything anybody’s experienced in The Walking Dead thus far.
He’s definitely a different kind of bad guy. He’s sadistic and dangerous and all those things that you would expect from a Governor, but he’s much more in control. He’s much less sporadic and he has much less of a temper. This is not a guy who’s going to lose control and start shooting his own people the way the Governor did.
This is a guy who, much like Rick, has survived through horrendous things and has developed a system, a way of life, that works for him. And he’s a leader of a fairly sizable group, and so in order to do those things for as long as he’s done them, he’d have to be very accomplished as a human being.
I won’t necessarily say that this is Rick potentially coming up against an anti-Rick, but this is a character that Rick is not necessarily going to have an advantage over the way he had an advantage over, say, a Gareth, or a Governor.
What about Negan’s big moment? Issue 100. You know what I’m talking about. It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest moment in the entire comic book. What are your conversations like when you approach something like that in terms of deciding whether to keep things the same or switch it up? Because it’s a shocking moment in the comic, but perhaps it’s even more shocking if you change it up here.
I think everybody on the show recognizes it for the iconic, monumental moment that it is in the comic book series. No one is discussing not doing something like that in the show. It’s a very big part of his introduction and we want to do it justice.
But something as well known as that moment — maybe it would seem like it wouldn’t be a great thing if we did an exact sort of thing just because people might be expecting it. All I want to say is, read the comic, but you’re not going to know what to expect. Part of the reason that that moment was such a big deal in the comic is the fact that you did not expect that it was going to happen, and so we’re very confident that we found a way to keep it as unexpected in the show as it was in the comic. So it should be just as intense, just as heartbreaking, and just as shocking.
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Tell me your thoughts on the casting of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who seems perfect, in the role.
You know, there have been a lot of big moments for me on this show. I saw Andrew Lincoln and Steven Yeun meet for the very first time on the set. I got to walk through the prison after writing those stories for years and years.
I’ve seen moments from the comic come to life before my eyes, and it’s all very touching. But seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in costume, holding Lucille, saying lines — yeah, I don’t get goosebumps a lot, but that definitely happened. And seeing the joy and the elation that I had from seeing that character existing in a real space, coming to life as they say, I know that the fans are going to feel the same way.
So as perfect a casting as everybody seems to think it is, I can confirm that that is 100 percent the case, and I’m just very excited for the world to get to know Negan the way that we have. It’s going to be great.