Negan’s Lineup: The Walking Dead Stars Weigh in On Sunday’s Premiere
If you’re a Walking Dead fan and you’re not already feeling as trapped and powerless as Rick Grimes, you probably will be by the time the season 7 opening credits begin to roll on Sunday night.
Why? Because after all the hype and speculation of summer you’ll come to realize that no matter what happens, you’re about to lose a fan favorite character to an act of bloody violence, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.
While the media loses the run of itself this week speculating over who will meet their fate at the hands of Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) studded baseball bat Lucille (with Glen and/or Maggie topping recent polls) we’ve put together the following interview (with the kind assistance of AMC) featuring Negan’s full line up of potential victims.
Below, Negan’s roster, including Norman Reedus (Daryl), Steven Yeun (Glenn), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Christian Serratos (Rosita) and Ross Marquand (Aaron) all talk frankly about their characters’ current predicament, the events and regrets that led them here, and what fans can expect — not just from that inevitable premiere moment — but the season ahead.
And if you missed it, we have Andrew Lincoln’s earlier interview through the link below.
Can you guess who’s not coming back this season through their carefully worded answers? We can’t, but we’re going to try to anyway.
NORMAN REEDUS | Daryl
As they kneel, what does the group realize about the world now?
They realize they are not driving the car. There is somebody else who has a lot more territory than they do who is calling the shots. It’s super interesting and great that there is a character that is going to put fear into them. One of my favorite parts of the Season 6 finale is watching Rick be not in control. Rick has lead these people for so long and he might have just lead them all into the water to drown.
What does Daryl realize?
Mistakes will end your life.
What makes Negan more dangerous than anyone this group has come across?
Negan is a cold-blooded killer and he’s got the numbers. He’s got an army of people who all call themselves Negan. They are doing everything he says. There’s no way around that right now.
How is Negan able to Stop this group in its tracks where others have failed?
Fear. Fear is a bigger motivator than love or revenge or anything else. He is putting fear in people and that does wonders. It is particularly cruel because he uses a nursery rhyme. He’s not remorseful and it’s not personal. It’s just going to happen… just to keep the order.
What does the future look like for the group?
It looks really bad. It looks like they are about to have a complete change of lifestyle. We know Negan has people, but we don’t know the expanse of his tyranny.
STEVEN YEUN | Glenn
Last season, why did Glenn agree with Rick to attack the Saviors?
Glenn is fighting his classic battle – pragmatism over compassion. The one thing that checks his pragmatism is his heart. I don’t think Glenn sees any other option that his heart can push in any other direction but to do what Rick has suggested.
Why did Glenn step in and kill for Heath when they attacked the Outpost?
After Glenn kills the first Savior, he knows that it takes a part of your soul to do it. Why not let someone keep that? Why have someone go to this place when he doesn’t need to? Since Glenn is already there, he tries to take it upon himself to let Heath still preserve himself.
In what way did the group underestimate Negan’s power and capabilities?
There is a cockiness to the group, not arrogance. We think we can overcome all odds. Last season, Glenn says we were wrong about the world, it is much much bigger. And now we have to figure it out all over again. The threats that we have experienced are not even close to the threats that are really truly out there. It is definitely a humbling moment, but I still wouldn’t count out our cockiness.
Tell us about filming the Season 7 Premiere.
As an actor, you strive for moments like this where you get to feel something, whether it be terrible or good. We’ve established quite a story and quite a show. To come to this point is a milestone. This only makes the show better.
LAUREN COHAN | Maggie
Why did Maggie cut her hair?
It’s a suit up. The group felt they had a handle on what was out there. They were ready to move forward to take control in a way we wanted. Interestingly, as soon as she gets prepared for that next stage, she folds into the pain that propels them on this terrible journey into the hands of Negan.
How does Negan impact The Walking Dead story?
It’s not an impact – it’s a completely unrecognizable remnant once he comes onto the scene.
In what ways did Maggie underestimate Negan?
Little did we know Negan is this complete sadist that takes so much pleasure out of inflicting such great pain on people. To me, Negan feels like this horrible undercurrent that’s been there the whole time that we haven’t realized, and now it’s rearing its head from every doorway you can imagine. It’s like how bulls have little flocks of birds that live on their backs. We’ve been there not knowing we were all sleeping on this giant scary bull. We are upended.
What is most dangerous about Negan?
He can read people very quickly. He is a very good judge of character despite being a despicable character.
What do you hope fans will feel watching The Walking Dead this season?
I hope that people feel the certainty and bravery of putting other people first. As difficult as the struggle has been for our group, the thing that they do right is think of each other and think of others. Part of the appeal for working on this show and being a fan of this show is the tribe. Being a part of something, knowing who you are, what your part is in it, the impact you make on other people’s lives, how you better a situation by giving of yourself, and you have a place in this family. That is what I have learned, and I hope that can be passed on.
CHANDLER RIGGS | Carl
How has the introduction of Negan impacted The Walking Dead?
It’s fascinating and a whole new dynamic for the show. Negan is a very charming character, but at the same time a psychopath. Negan is by far the most dangerous character we’ve come across yet. You are going to hate to love him.
In what way did Carl underestimate Negan’s power and capabilities?
Not only Carl, but the entire group, underestimated Negan’s power. They’ve beaten Terminus and the Governor and a bunch of other groups so they did not think Negan and the Saviors would be that big of a problem – until they are all on their knees.
What does the future look like for our group?
It looks very grim and very dark. The group has been put into a very submissive position by Negan. He is ruthless and he does not care. If someone steps out of line, he just kills them. That makes him a very dangerous character. There is not a lot of hope for the group.
Tell us about filming the Season 7 Premiere…
It was really an amazing experience because all of us learned so much about how each character works and how each other work together. I don’t think any of us will forget.
What is it like working with Jeffrey Dean Morgan?
He is so funny. He brings a whole light to the set. All of the cast and the crew love him so much, which, for me, sucks because I have to hate his guts, but he’s such a nice guy.
DANAI GURIRA | Michonne
What was a defining moment for Michonne last season?
Now that she has a whole new level of intimacy attached to who she is and how she functions in the world, that is definitely an adjustment for her. In some ways, it’s made her even more aggressive. This is a man, from the beginning, she could respect.
Were they wrong in attacking the Outpost?
It is hard to have simplistic morals and standards when you are dealing with a world that is this hostile. In terms of what happened, they were actually trying to help a situation not happen. They’ve had a lot of experience of people doing really terrible things they trusted, and they should not have trusted these people. It was smart, but they didn’t realize the magnitude of who they were up against.
Why is meeting Negan and the Saviors such a humbling moment?
It is like what Rick said at the end of Season Five – you are messing with the wrong people. Well, we just did that. We just messed with the wrong people.
Why is Michonne defiantly staring at Negan as she sits at his feet?
She is in a moment of utter powerlessness, which is beyond maddening for her. There is certainly rage and a desire for something to just give them a little bit of a way out of this, but there really doesn’t seem to be one. The only thing she has is her eyes.
What makes the game Negan plays with them pure torture?
It’s a plausible circumstance that someone could do exactly what that man is doing. We are not in a position at that moment to make it any different from what it is. It’s the juxtaposition of Eeny Meeny Miny Moe with I am about to kill one of you – it’s horrific.
How does Negan change the landscape of The Walking Dead?
They have never seen this type of force in this world yet. The game has changed. We hope we can still play it.
MICHAEL CUDLITZ | Abraham
What led Abraham to start a relationship with Sasha?
The defining moment happened when Abraham is on the bridge when he literally looked death in the face. He breaks up with Rosita and that puts into motion the idea of a future. He ends it to start the rest of his life with Sasha.
Where is the group at the end of the last episode?
The Season Finale is great because, from the minute it starts, you know it’s not going to end well for so many reasons. There is the claustrophobic element of the RV and the ticking time bomb of Maggie getting sicker and sicker, forcing us deeper and deeper into this trap. It starts closing in on us roadblock after roadblock. Everything about this is implying the size of the force that we are dealing with is way larger than what we have and what we have ever encountered. We are not dealing with people who don’t know what they are doing. It’s terrifying to us.
Was the group too confident dealing with the Saviors up until now?
We were looking at things as separate threats. It’s a dangerous world, and it appears it is run by one guy that we knew nothing about. We have no idea of the size, scope, command, and the tentacles that this group has. There are no answers, and we are not in a position to get them, because, in this moment, we don’t matter.
Where do things go from here?
It’s The Walking Dead, we lose people. I’m eager to see how the loss changes the group. And there are other groups we still haven’t met yet.
SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN | Sasha
How did Sasha and Abraham fall in love?
After the deaths of Bob and Tyreese, Sasha was in a pit of despair and in a pit of walkers. She eventually came to the other side, looked across the way to him, and saw he was in a place she just came from. We see the strength in each other and that is what pulls us together more than anything. We are very much partners in war and a love was birthed from that. Abraham is life after survival.
What makes Negan the most dangerous person this group has encountered?
He is using psychological abuse. That makes him different and more dangerous than anyone we have ever faced before. In his mind, he is more valuable than anyone else and that is sickening.
What made Negan successful at stopping the group in its tracks?
It was immediately alarming running out of the woods with Maggie on the stretcher and the first thing you hear are all these piercing whistles. When we reach the clearing, it is deafening. It’s coming from everywhere. You hear before you see just how many people are here. Then the lights flash on and you are completely confused.
Is there a future as the group sits awaiting their fate?
To have your life in someone else’s hands, who will do whatever they want with it, it is a very chilling thing. Without hope, why live? That will be the hardest thing about the future because they are in a seemingly hopeless situation.
JOSH MCDERMITT | Eugene
Did Eugene overcome his self-doubt when he volunteered to drive the RV alone?
It was just another moment for him to display that newfound confidence. That’s exciting to see a guy who I feel like represents a lot of what most of us would be in the apocalypse if it ever happened – someone with no skills hoping someone protects them or they might die. Then to become a man of action, a man who will step up in the face of danger. In those situations, you have to continue to build your confidence.
How has Negan changed landscape of the world the group thought it knew?
We thought we were in this nice little community where our biggest worry was we don’t have enough food. Negan came in and made this world much larger than we thought it was, while making our world a lot smaller.
What makes Negan so threatening?
It’s a pretty sadistic game that Negan is playing using a child’s game to kill someone. It’s so nonchalant and everyday for him. It lets you know you are not in charge. You are not the ones pulling the strings anymore. This is a scary time for this group.
Is Negan unpredictable or does he have a plan?
This isn’t random. They are not one step ahead of us, they are 10 steps ahead of us. This is the ultimate chess match, and we don’t realize we are playing chess, and they do.
CHRISTIAN SERRATOS | Rosita
Does Rosita feel betrayed by Abraham?
It was traumatic and heart-breaking, but the break up was a gift to both of them, especially Rosita. The audience got to see her on her own and that she is a soldier, not just a follower. She’s learned it is best she is on her own. She works better that way. She is stronger that way.
What happened mentally to Rosita after Denise was killed last season?
She saw a person die whom she was responsible for and she feels a huge sense of failure. That was the hardest thing – death was right in front of her, and it could have been avoided. You see that register with Rosita. You don’t come between Rosita and what she believes is her job. Rosita was in charge of her, and you killed her. As a soldier, that is a huge issue for Rosita.
Was there any anxiety coming back to Season 7, knowing how things were left?
What do you think audiences will learn about the group in Season 7 Premiere?
All our characters are very tough, very human, very capable, and very strong. At times, they may seem invincible. They are not. That is a very powerful message. These people can hurt, can bleed, and can feel fear. They do not have control.
What makes Negan the most dangerous person this group has encountered?
He has no empathy.
Why does this cast come in when they are not working to give fellow actors eye lines?
That is common on our set. It’s not common in the industry. Our cast is so supportive. They might not even be in the episode, but they come to support you. We are genuinely invested in what we are doing here and we, as fans, want to see all the cool things others get to do too.
ROSS MARQUAND | Aaron
How does Negan impact the story of The Walking Dead?
Negan has been a pervasive threat for most of last season. Even before he was revealed, there is this notion that he is everywhere. He is this ubiquitous force of negativity and darkness that is very terrifying. Just when they think they have the upper hand, they realize that they have only touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much beneath what they think they know.
What is going through Aaron’s mind as they sit at Negan’s mercy?
This is the first time where not only Rick’s group, but Rick especially, is very aware they can’t overcome something. That realization washes over him like a horrible dream and there is no waking up from it. They have taken everything we have, not only our physical possessions, but our hope.
Does Aaron feel responsible for where the group currently sits?
Aaron feels a certain responsibility for this group and feels he screwed up by them getting to this place. He wants to make sure they can safely get out of this situation because in that moment there is no way out. Every single one of these people in this line up would die for each other.
What was the biggest moment that impacted Aaron last season?
[In the tunnel], as someone who has a partner himself and wants to very much protect him, he realizes Maggie is not just fighting for herself and Glenn, she is fighting for the life of their unborn baby. It’s not just these adults fighting for their future, it’s about protecting the next generation.
What may fans expect during the Season 7 Premiere?
It came off of a very intense emotional note last season and it’s going to go deeper down the well of sadness.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres Sunday October 23 at 9/8c on AMC.
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