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The Walking Dead: Jeffrey Dean Morgan Discusses Negan’s Future

Published on November 24th, 2022 | Updated on November 24th, 2022 | By FanFest

There has not been a bigger talker in The Walking Dead universe than Negan. The guy positively loves the sound of his own voice. But in one of the most crucial scenes in the most crucial episode of The Walking Dead, the man who never met a quip or comeback he didn’t like did not have a single thing to say.

After Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) apologized to Maggie (Lauren Cohan), she told him that horrible acts he committed- like killing her husband and making fun of him as he died- were unforgivable. However, she decided that if Negan and his daughter wanted to stay, they had “earned their place.”

So did Negan stay? The last thing we saw of him on the show was avoiding a dinner party with the rest of the gang, exchanging nods through a window with Daryl (Norman Reedus) before walking away. But where was he going? How did Negan answer the Clash’s eternal question of should I stay or should I go? Did Negan indeed accept Maggie’s invitation to stick around?

“He’s not sticking around,” Morgan tells EW. “He’s going off to start a family and kind of start over.” Perhaps that’s for the best, considering Maggie just told him she might not even be able to look at him some days. And that nod to Daryl certainly seemed like a goodbye.

“He has that bit to Daryl, and then he’s off,” Morgan says. “That’s it. I think that they’ve all reached an understanding. There’s been a level of acceptance with Negan, which I think has been a hard-fought battle for Negan. And of course, then he leaves. He and his wife are going off.”

We spoke to Morgan about his two big Negan–Maggie scenes with Cohan, and why Negan “needed to shut up.” (His words.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Obviously, there’s more story to come with Dead City, but how do you feel about how Negan’s story wrapped here up in this form on this show?

JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: I think that Negan had a couple goodbyes in this, and there were actually more goodbyes in the original script, and [director Greg Nicotero] and I were like, “God, there’s really four scenes that are kind of Negan goodbyes. Let’s trim it down a little bit.” I thought it was important obviously that we had the Negan and Maggie moment. They’re not allies. They never will be allies. They’re not going to be friends. But I think there is an understanding.

They have an understanding at this point. I thought that was an important way, especially after the last year, spending so much time together. It took us a lot of years to work together before we actually had a couple scenes we did this season, so I thought that was cool. That was Negan’s biggest goodbye in this finale.

Let’s talk about those two big Negan and Maggie scenes. First off, we have this whole scene where Negan is going to go take Pamela (Laila Robins) out so Maggie doesn’t have to, but then she catches him and we see him finally apologize in the most heartfelt way we’ve ever seen from him, and compare being on his knees to when he had them down in the lineup on their knees. What was filming that scene like for you?

I knew it was the finale of the show, so I’ve been wanting to have kind of a sincere moment with Maggie, with Lauren and her character, for so long. I’ve been asking for it because every scene always, either she’s going to say something that’s going to cut him off at the knees, or he’s going to say something snarky and blow whatever kind of goodwill that they ever could have had or had been building. I think there’s been a couple moments in the course of this year where it’s been close. It’s been close to Negan apologizing, and her maybe being able to see his point of view, whatever it may be.

She was never going to forgive him. There’s never going to be this big friendship. It just won’t be and that can’t happen, but fast forward finally to the finale, and there it is! It’s brief, but it’s as honest as I think Negan can be. Negan is not big on sharing his feelings, which I think is okay. He’s always going to have an armor around him, as is she with him. So, I think you saw an uneasy kind of understanding, and I think filming it for both of us, I was thankful and I think she was.

We’ve had a lot of fun working together. We very much enjoy each other’s company, Lauren and Jeff do. It’s hard for us and fun for us at the same time, that we get to hate each other on-screen, and off-screen, we hug each other. We’ve come a long way in six years. When I first started the show, Lauren didn’t want to make eye contact with me, so here we are. But it was fun. It was great that that scene was there, and I think it was important. I think [showrunner Angela Kang] knew that that scene needed to be there. [Chief content officer Scott M. Gimple] knew that scene needed to be there. It gives us the opportunity for the story to continue.

I love the second scene too, because Maggie gives this big talk to Negan about forgiving but having trouble forgetting, and what was so interesting to me about this is the last five seasons have all led up to this, and here we have Negan, the biggest chatty Cathy ever, and he’s completely silent in that entire scene. What was that like for you and for him to just sit there and take that all in?

I remember listening to it and thinking, “Oh, I could respond to this.” I can very much think in Negan’s brain. I can hop into Negan’s brain and know exactly where and what is going to trigger him to say something a little bit snarky. Just a little bit, just enough to give a little poke.

I remember listening to the rehearsals of her doing it and going, “Oh, man.” I mean, she was great. She was so good. But I was still in my head thinking, “F—, Negan would say something here.” It doesn’t matter if he’s understanding and being nice. He would still have a quip of some sort, even if it’s with just a sense of humor in it.

And I didn’t get a chance to, which is good. Negan needed to shut up. It’s not the first time. Over the years, I have said to Scott and Angela, “He needs to shut up.” And he finally did. It was good, and it was time for him to listen and shut up. That being said, still in my head, the wheels are turning and I’m like, “Oh, there’s a one-liner in there somewhere!”

It was really effective this way because it really felt impactful, the fact that he didn’t say anything.

It’s important that he didn’t say something. Had there been something there, I probably would’ve fought it. But I think everybody knew it was tough for Negan to shut up. It’s an accumulation of a lot of lessons he’s learned in the last couple years, too. I think that him learning that it’s time to just listen and not f—ing say a snarky comment, it’s taken him a long time to learn that. Even don’t smile. Don’t do any of the Negan s—. He did and it was great, and I’m glad they let us do that.

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