paleyfest 2017

No, The Walking Dead’s Negan Isn’t an Allusion to Donald Trump

While fans of The Walking Dead (and even its stars) have loved pointing out parallels between the brutal, bat-wielding antics of Negan and the unique governing style of the 45th president, the show’s producers have laid to rest any direct correlation between Trump and the ruthless leader of the Saviors played by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. “I always find that [theory] funny,” showrunner Scott M. Gimple told Vulture at the opening night of PaleyFest in Los Angeles on Friday, which featured a panel discussion of the cast and creators of AMC’s juggernaut zombie drama. “I’m really trying to hold onto Negan from the book, and tell human stories that reflect reality. If people draw conclusions about current events, it’s just coincidence — or that [TWD author] Robert Kirkman is clairvoyant, which is entirely possible! The [source] material was written years ago.”

Still, actors on the series say they understand why people see echoes of Negan in our current political climate. “People look at the show through many different lenses,” said Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron. “Some have a religious perspective, some a political perspective. There is no right or wrong way to look at the show, but it is interesting that a lot of people are seeing parallels to world leaders; those who also seem a bit dictatorial, like Negan.”

If nothing else, Morgan’s gleefully sadistic portrayal of the series’ most brutal bully has inspired intense emotions among the show’s fanbase. “I have people walking up to me on the street saying, ‘Just fucking kill that guy! Jesus, what are you waiting for?’” said executive producer, director, and zombie-effects maestro Greg Nicotero with a laugh. “Jeffrey and Norman [Reedus] tell a really funny story. They were at a gas station. This little old lady came out and saw Norman and she went, ‘Oh — my Norman!’ And she went [to Morgan]: ‘That fucker! I hate him!’ Jeffrey’s like, ‘I’m just an actor, man. Sorry.’”

Cast members also admitted they aren’t above lobbying producers to have their characters be the one to end Negan. “I think Norman would probably love to do it the most,“ said Tom Payne, who plays Jesus. “But I think it would be cool if it was Carl … That would be awesome, if it came out of left field and it was someone a bit more unexpected.” Alanna Masterson, who portrays, Tara, said she believed that honor should belongs to the show’s enduring hero, Rick Grimes, who’s played by British actor Andrew Lincoln. “The person who kills Negan has to be Rick,” said Masterson. “He’s who has to kill him. Either Rick goes or Negan goes. That’s just what has to be.”

Gimple also hinted that by the current season’s end, viewers might want to brace themselves for something that might be just as jarring as Negan’s controversial onscreen debut, and suggested we should all prepare something to soothe themselves. “A little bit of chamomile tea, maybe,” he said. “There are going to be some twists and turns that might make people uncomfortable. They even made me uncomfortable.”

No, The Walking Dead’s Negan Isn’t an Allusion to Trump