When fans heard AMC had cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan as “The Walking Dead’s” Negan, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. However, while it’s easy to envision Morgan in the role, the question remained — how will the character’s foul-mouthed, expressive language be affected by the cable network’s censors when he debuts on the Season 6 finale.
“Look, it’s a speed bump. I’m not going to say it’s an issue because they’re working on it,” Morgan said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “We’re going to push AMC — the plan is to push them as far as they can because it’s who Negan is. He uses some colorful language. And I use some colorful language. And reading the comic, it’s important. So we’ll see where that lands. It’s our intention that this character is going to leap off the pages of the comic book. It’s very important that that’s who it is. Some of the characters there’s much more leeway, but Negan is a guy that you want to keep as true as possible, and that would be how I want to play him as well.”
According to Executive Producer Greg Nicotero, whatever decision AMC makes, he’s ready, having shot Negan’s debut two ways. In one, the character’s language is cleaned up. In the other, the F-word remains as prominent as in the comics.
“There is a rhythm to it that even in some of the takes that we did,” Nicotero explained to EW. “What I affectionately call the ‘f- takes’ have a completely different rhythm to them and a completely different feel. So while editing it, I was very careful to make sure that I preserved a lot of the performance without getting myself into trouble with the profanity.”
Whether the F-word take makes it to air is something we’ll have to wait and see, but when Season 6 arrives on Blu-ray, odds are good that will be the version viewers get. While Season 4 closed out with Rick saying “They’re screwing with us,” the line was changed to “They’re f–ing with us” for the home video release. Series creator Robert Kirkman indicates that the same will hold true for Negan’s scenes.
“[W]orst-case scenario, the extras will be extra-special on Blu-ray,” Kirkman promises. “I mean, we’re trying to explore some other more interesting options, but that’s the bare minimum of what we’ll be doing.”