Nearly Negan – The Other Men Considered for the Walking Dead’s Villain

Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been great as Negan but who else nearly got the job?

When it came to casting Season 7’s big bad guy, Negan, the producers of The Walking Dead had a huge job ahead of them in having to choose who would bring to life one of the comics industry’s biggest villains; a man who is utterly brutal, physically huge and intimidating but yet charismatic and quite likeable partially down to his creative swearing. Here’s the men who lost out on the role to Jeffrey Dean Morgan with some of their other great moments but be warned, the videos aren’t safe for work and contain adult themes.

Timothy Olyphant

Best known for his roles in Justified and Damages, Olyphant’s performance as foul mouthed Sheriff Seth Bullock in Deadwood seemed to be in a similar vein to Negan and while he auditioned for the part, he wasn’t successful. While Olyphant can definitely be intimidating he just isn’t Negan.

Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon definitely bears a resemblance to Negan facially and while he auditioned he was unsuccessful which is a shame because his character Officer John Reilly in 2004’s Crash had Negan’s horrible manner and Dillon could have done a fantastic job.

Garret Dillahunt

When it comes to playing a psychopath, Garret Dillahunt is one of the best…so good in fact that we couldn’t find a clip of him from the remake of Last House on the Left that we felt comfortable posting because his character was so deeply unpleasant and even his interviews about his character were pretty unsettling. We actually feel sorry for Garrett as he is a huge¬†Walking Dead fan, he really wanted the part and he could have done the character justice which fans seemed to agree with as a lot of people on social media wanted him to land the part. Dillahunt himself acknowledged that he had major competition for the role and the next two names on our list prove that.

Jon Hamm

Perhaps not the best known name on this list as about half of his roles have been as a voice actor, including Archer, Robot Chicken and others, but he has a number of TV roles under his belt like The Unit, Mad Men and 30 Rock. Most importantly Hamm was who the AMC executives had wanted to cast and Walking Dead writer/creator Robert Kirkman also felt he was right for the job as he confirmed in an interview with MTV:

He’s not tall enough! That’s a joke. I think Jon Hamm would be perfect. I think after “Mad Men” has run, Jon Hamm is going to have a Tom Hanks level film career, so I don’t think he’ll be coming back to television anytime soon. Although that would be cool!

Personally, Hamm doesn’t really evoke Negan but when the network and the series creator want the guy to play the part then that’s hard to contend with.

Henry Rollins

Dillahunt was the fans’ choice, Hamm was the network and Robert Kirkman’s choice and Henry Rollins may seem like a distant outsider as he was up against some top notch actors and Rollins isn’t known for being a great actor. He’s had some great roles in Sons of Anarchy, Wrong Turn 2, Feast, Bad Boys 2 and He Never Died but Rollins generally plays himself. However, when Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlad was given Robert Kirkman’s description of Negan for the comic, Adlard based the villain’s appearance on Rollins. When the auditions came about, Rollins was guaranteed an audition but lost out to Jeffrey Dean Morgan. In an interview with Forbes Rollins seemed genuinely surprised that he wasn’t offered the role.


Rollins being cast as Negan is an intriguing idea, he’s intense, he’s funny, he constantly swears and is on times outright frightening so he’d could have been perfect, especially if he were allowed a little freedom to perform as he normally does in his spoken word tours instead of being rigidly scripted. His fast talking rants which effortlessly swing between intensity and comedy are exactly what Negan is famous for.

If Jeffrey Dean Morgan hadn’t got the role, who would your choice have been? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe.


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Posts by the Gear4Geeks account are by authors who don't wish to have their own identity on the blog or are being trialled as writers by us.

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