‘Walking Dead’ producers, cast talk shocking Season 7 premiere

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC  (© 2016 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the Season 7 premiere of “The Walking Dead.” 

The cast and executive producers of “The Walking Dead” joined host Chris Hardwick for an extended version of “The Talking Dead” to commiserate over the deaths of Glenn (Steven Yuen) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) in the season premiere of the AMC hit series.

“We wanted to send a clear message that we are just getting started, and there is a lot that we’re going to be getting from this,” said executive producer Robert Kirkman.

Showrunner Scott Gimple explained that this plan had been in the works for two years. “The hardest thing about it was starting the script and thinking about what would break Rick,” he said. “But looking for a way to break the audience, too, not in a way that in any way to hurt them, but for them to believe that Rick Grimes would be under the thumb of Negan…so that they would believe that Rick could do what this guy says.”

The season premiere saw Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) claim not just one member of Rick’s gang, but two with an brutal swing of his bat, Lucille — ruthlessly murdering both Glenn and Abraham and spending most of the episode torturing Rick until he submitting to his authority.

“The death in the comic Robert [Kirkman] wrote was such a messed up but at the same time incredible way to take something away and make a story as impactful as it is,” said Yeun. “When you read that in the comic you don’t want that to go to anyone else. It’s such an iconic moment.”

It was Abraham who was at the receiving end of Negan’s bat after that awful game of “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” That led to Daryl attacking Negan, who then decided to claim another life: Glenn.

“I think he totally feels guilt,” Reedus said of Daryl. “He’ll never let that guilt go. He’ll never release that from himself. He feels totally responsible.”

Cudlitz said he knew from reading the graphic novels on which the show was based that Abraham was living on “borrowed time.” “I know Robert always said he was not happy with how he took Abraham out in the graphic novel so I was curious to see where we go from there,” he said. “I think in the group, he made it very clear to Negan that if he was going to take somebody, take me if it’s going to help protect the rest of the group.”

Jeffrey Dean Morgan weighed in on his reaction on learning who he was going to kill. “I’m a fan of Steven and Michael. I didn’t want to see them go either,” said Morgan. “They’re such an integral part of the show. And so when I found out, I felt the same way you all did. That being said, here we are.”

Morgan dismissed the idea that he has to play Negan as a villain.

“I can’t play him like that certainly because then you have only one note to go with,” said Morgan. “In my mind, he’s not a bad guy. He’s still letting these guys off easy at this point. Remember they took out quite a few of my folks. If it weren’t for Daryl, Glenn would still be alive.”