Ever since it was announced Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Supernatural, Watchmen) had been cast as Negan on The Walking Dead, fans have been wondering how much freedom AMC would allow the producers as to the portrayal of Robert Kirkman’s iconic potty-mouthed f—bomb dropping lunatic villain.
Readers of the Robert Kirkman/Charlie Adlard Walking Dead comics are well aware of Negan’s generous use of the f—word (and other similar cuss words) with every other word that comes out of his mouth. Which makes for quite the colorful read, I can tell ya.
Back in December, Morgan opened up about how the show would deal with the foul language used by the barb–wired baseball bat carrying villain (a baseball bat Negan lovingly calls Lucille).
“Look, it’s a speed bump. I’m not going to say it’s an issue because they’re working on it. 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.”
The solution the producers have come up with is to film two versions of Negan’s grand entrance on the Season 6 finale, and if the “f—takes” don’t make it on the episode aired on AMC, well, they’ll be available on the Blu-ray sets in all their uncensored glory.
A similar thing happened during the Season 4 finale, when Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) final line on the aired episode was “They’re [the Terminus people] screwing with the wrong people.” That line was changed to “They’re f—ing with the wrong people” on the Blu-ray release, which was closer to what Rick Grimes said in the comics. Here’s what Robert Kirkman, who's also an executive producer on the series, told Entertainment Weekly:
“I would say that there are certain words that try as I might, we are not allowed to say on AMC, and those are certain words that Negan likes to say. So those words are going to be filmed, and people are going to be able to get those words, but there are definitely some broadcast limitations that we’re going to have to deal with. We’re sorting that out now, but I will say that, worst-case scenario, the extras will be extra-special on Blu-ray. I mean, we’re trying to explore some other more interesting options, but that’s the bare minimum of what we’ll be doing.”
Director and executive producer Greg Nicotero elaborated a bit more on the problems of adapting some of the comic-book characters' more colorful dialogue and expletives for a cable network TV show. Whatever AMC decides about the amount of profanity the network will allow the zombie drama series to air, Nicotero is ready for any contingency.
“[On if he shot Negan’s entrance in the season finale two ways] “That would be a very good guess. We’ve talked about that. Even back when Michael Cudlitz was cast as Abraham we were like, ‘Damn, how are we going to deal with Abraham’s dialogue?’ And I think Gimple went, ‘Yeah, Abraham’s dialogue is fine. It’s Negan that we’re going to have problems with because every other word of Negan’s is f—.’ There is a rhythm to it that even in some of the takes that we did. 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.”
What do you think? Will AMC let Negan loose during the airing of the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, or do you think all the f—bombs will be kept strictkly for the home release?