While viewers may have felt left in the dark when The Walking Dead ended season 6 with a massive cliffhanger, they can at least take solace in the fact that they weren’t the only ones.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan — the man who delivered the killing blows to the face of one of the as yet to be revealed series regulars — tells us that they never told him whom he was killing, that he had no clue that the scene would end in a cliffhanger, and that he did not find out the identity of the victim until he read the first script for season 7.
Not only that, but Morgan says that shooting the emotional return episode amounted to “10 days of hell” for the cast and crew due to the end result of Negan’s little game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe, and he also has a message for anyone who feels “cheated” by the cliffhanger. Read on to learn more from The Walking Dead’s big new baddie.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you shot the season 6 finale, did they tell you whom you were killing?
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: No.
They didn’t tell you?
No, they did not tell me. I don’t know that anybody knew on that particular evening, and if they did, no one has copped to me. But I certainly didn’t know. I’ve seen interviews where Norman has said, “I know,” but I honestly don’t know that anybody really knew what was going to happen until the first script came out. Maybe during the summer people found out some stuff. I didn’t find out whom we were going to kill until I saw the first script coming back this year.
Yeah. And it’s heavy, man. It’s a heavy deal. It was heavy when we shot it last year and it’s only gotten more intense this year, I think. That first episode back was crazy. It was just crazy. What you’re asking of these actors to put it on the line like they do, and then this scene in particular, especially if they had the summer to dwell on it, it’s a lot. Then I go blowing in like a hurricane, just dance around on my tiptoes swinging Lucille around — it was 10 days of hell, I believe, for everyone involved. Hard work, but it went well beyond that. I mean, you’ve been around, you see these relationships that these guys all have with each other as well as the crew, and everyone is so invested and so passionate. And that ending — or this beginning, I should say — is jarring. It’s a reset on The Walking Dead world and it’s f—ing Negan’s world now, you know? It’s a lot.
Did it surprise you, the reaction to the cliffhanger? A lot of people were very upset.
Yeah, it surprised me how upset people were. I think it kind of shocked all of us, frankly, that people were so upset. Look, it’s storytelling at its best, and from the beginning of time there’s been cliffhangers. And by the way, I didn’t even know it was going to end in a cliffhanger. I didn’t know that, you know? The way that we shot it last year, my feeling was they just didn’t want to see us actors see the crushing blows of who was at the end of Lucille, so they were going to shoot that separately, and we would see it at the finale. It turns out exactly what I shot is exactly how it ended.
But I liked it. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the audience being pissed for a day or two, but to dwell on it as much as they have, I think it’s good for one. I think by the time October rolls around all those people who are like, “I’m never watching Walking Dead again. I feel cheated,” they’re going to be the first ones lined up in front of their television. And I’ll say this, you have to be careful what you wish for, audience, because you’re going to get those answers answered and more, and you’re probably not going to be happy with it.
I don’t think it took away from Negan’s entrance because Negan’s entrance was Negan’s entrance, and I think that was a pretty great entrance to do.
Do you think it was a little bit of a no-win situation because everyone already had in their mind exactly how that huge moment from the comic should play out, and if you do it the same way, it’s predictable, and if you do something else, it’s a cop out?
I think that’s a very good point. Even people that have never opened the comic book before, by the time that aired, everybody had seen those panels and what Lucille had done, and so everybody was waiting for it. We don’t follow the comic book to a T. There are deviations, and there have to be. Otherwise the audience is going to know what the answers are before. It’s about keeping the audience on their toes, but you’re right. I think if everybody was ready to feel it one way or another, whoever it was going to be on the receiving end, and when they didn’t see that they somehow felt cheated. Well, I say to that, bulls—, and just wait, and again, be careful what you wish for.
For more Walking Dead scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.