The comic book series The Walking Dead has a long history of memorably vicious villains that have made the leap from page to screen, and now one of the most notorious threats to Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors will find his way to the screen.
Watchmen actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan will reportedly play Negan, the baseball bat-wielding leader of a neighboring community in the hit series.
The casting news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter, and the report indicates that Morgan will make his debut as Negan during sixth season’s finale. He’ll then go on to be a series regular in the seventh season (and possibly beyond).
According to the report, Morgan was one of several actors considered for the role. Timothy Olyphant, Matt Dillon, and Garret Dillahunt all reportedly tested for the part.
In the comic book series, Negan is the violent leader of a group of survivors dubbed “The Saviors” that force a network of communities to provide them with supplies in exchange for protection from the undead. Negan famously wields a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that he calls “Lucille.”
Series artist Charlie Adlard has acknowledged that the visual inspiration for Negan was actor/musician Henry Rollins.
Morgan is no stranger to playing comic book characters, having payed The Comedian in 2009’s Watchmen (pictured), as well as the role of Clay in the 2010 adaptation of The Losers comic book series. He’ll also appear in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice as Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas Wayne. Morgan also plays a recurring role in the popular Supernatural television series, and recently appeared in the action thriller Heist with Robert De Niro and Dave Bautista.
Currently in the midst of its sixth season, The Walking Dead is expected to kick off its seventh season in October 2016.