Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the one-liner-dropping murderous villain Negan on The Walking Dead, has revealed the actress he would choose to play his character's wife Lucille if/when the show ever gets around to staging his full backstory. Lucille died before the events of the show, and a grief-stricken Negan paid tribute by naming his infamous barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat after her.
That same bat would be used to cave in the heads of fan-favorite characters Glenn and Abraham in the shocking resolution to the show's most-discussed (and in many circles most-hated) cliffhanger, leading to Negan's most-painful pun (he referred to his bloody murder weapon as "a vampire bat"). In season 7, Negan symbolically emasculated Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) by making him carry Lucille, daring Rick to attack him using his own weapon (a dare Rick elected not to take). Lucille will have a chance to feed again as TWD season 8 accelerates into its "All Out War" storyline.
Related: Walking Dead: When Will Negan Die?
During a panel at Atlanta's Walker Stalker event this weekend (via Comic Book), Morgan revealed who he would like to play the real Lucille if The Walking Dead should ever tackle a Negan backstory episode. Morgan's choice for the role would be his own real-life wife Hilarie Burton:
"If we ever film that, I would go with my wife. I'm gonna say her cause I'll need a place to go after this is over. Hilarie read the comic books and is as much invested in it as we all are. She's said, 'Jeff, could you put in a word for me?'"
Negan's backstory was tackled in the "Here's Negan" comic miniseries, where it was revealed that Lucille died after a protracted bout with cancer, with a pre-psychotic Negan staying by her bedside the whole time. Negan began losing touch with his humanity when Lucille turned into a walker after expiring and she had to be put down. Tragic as it may be, the comic at least confirmed that Negan did possess some humanity before turning into a completely crazed killer. Weirdly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan thinks playing the bedside scenes with Lucille would be easier if it were his own beloved real wife Hilarie Burton pretending to die painfully from cancer.
Burton is certainly qualified to take on the role of Lucille if ever the show goes the "Here's Negan" route. Her acting resume includes a long stint on the series One Tree Hill, as well as large roles in the Lethal Weapon TV series and the sci-fi series Extant. Burton has also been on White Collar, Grey's Anatomy and Hostages. Once upon a time she was an MTV VJ, though it's hard to see how that experience would help her play Negan's wife.
Given some of the problems Walking Dead fans have had with Morgan's performance as Negan, which arguably at times can be a little much, perhaps it would be helpful for the show to delve into his backstory and allow viewers to see him as the devoted husband he was before the zombie apocalypse unleashed his inner-lunatic. A little taste of a pre-apocalyptic, regular-guy Negan would help viewers see past the f-bomb-dropping, baseball-bat-swinging persona he's adopted as part of his arch-villain play, and pick up on some of the undercurrents of pain and grief lurking beneath the maniacal facade.
The Walking Dead continues October 29th with “The Damned” on AMC.