The Walking Dead: Steven Yeun addresses the 'f---ing awesome' arrival of Negan
[WARNING: Spoilers from events in The Walking Dead comic to follow. These may or may not correspond to what ends up happening on the TV version of The Walking Dead. Seriously, stop reading now if you don’t want to know about future events in the comic book series that may come to pass — no pun intended — on the show. Proceed at your own risk.]
We’re all looking forward to the appearance of the real Negan when Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes his debut as the charismatic Walking Dead villain in the season 6 finale. But if there is one person who had every right to dread his arrival, it is Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn. That’s because Negan makes his grand entrance in issue 100 of The Walking Dead comic, and that grand entrance includes bashing in Glenn’s face with his barbed wire-covered baseball bat he affectionately refers to as Lucille, killing the fan-favorite in horrific fashion.
Yeun is well aware of Glenn’s fate in the comic book, so what was it like for the actor to know that Negan was finally arriving on the show, thereby putting his own job on the highest-rated show on television in jeopardy? His answer may surprise you. “For me, his arrival is awesome,” says Yeun. “We’ve been waiting for this person for a long time, and in the comic books, he in a way brings a level of stakes that are kind of unmatched. And so, for me, for Negan to come into the show is, to say nothing less, f—ing awesome.”
I’m sorry, but SAY WHAT?!?!?!?
Of course, as we all know, showrunner Scott M. Gimple has a habit of changing things up in the TV adaptation. For instance, while Tyreese was beheaded by the Governor at the prison in the comics, in the TV version it was Hershel who ended up on the wrong side of the blade. So the deal is far from sealed when it comes to Glenn’s fate.
“I know people are going to always go, ‘Negan kills Glenn in the comics,’ but rest assured that we don’t necessarily do what’s in the comics,” says Yeun. “There’s a clear divide in the way we tell a story on television, and the way that story is told in the comics, because it has to be. And everybody will have to see what happens, but we definitely tell our story in the way that television should be told.”
Yeun and I have discussed Glenn’s fate many times often over the years, and I have argued to him that while fans have a certain expectation for one of the biggest moments ever from the comic — if not the biggest — to make it to the screen, having that moment defy expectations by changing the recipient of that deadly blow could make it even more powerful. “That’s the beauty of the adaptation,” responds Yeun. “There is something to be said about something being predictable. I’m sure there are iconic moments, but at the same time, we want to keep this show as fresh and alive as possible, and we’re going to tell that story that exists for the world we’ve created. And it is inspired by the world Robert Kirkman has created, but it’s also its own entity, to some degree. So, yeah. I mean, we’ll see what happens.”
RELATED VIDEO: Steven Yeun on his favorite zombie kill ever
While, of course, Yeun won’t tell us whether Glenn lives or dies, he does confirm what Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan told us — that the season finale promises to be deep, dark, and devastating. “I mean, we go for it,” says Yuen. “The thing that I can be most proud about on this show is that year after year we just continue to go for it. Whether we fail or whether we succeed, we just go for it. And things are tough. The conditions are tough. I would love for someone to come out and check out what a day of filming can be like. I could show you pictures that I took where you can see my entire leg all up the side completely covered in disgusting bruises. And that’s not just me. That’s everyone. Everyone has something happen every year. Yes, it’s brutal what happens story-wise with all the things that we try to tell near the end. But it’s also what we’ve always been going for.”
We’ll see if Yeun can continue to go for it in season 7. For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss, and make sure to check out the video above of Yeun revealing his favorite zombie kill ever.