- Simon Garner
Actor of the Week: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
This week, our Actor of the Week winner is a man that seems somewhat synonymous with playing roles of the more heinous variety; from baseball bat-wielding nutter to cigar-smoking anti-hero, it’s the unmistakable Jeffrey Dean Morgan! Morgan’s career has had highlights on both the silver screen and on TV, so it’s clear to see he has a wealth of talent under his belt.
Morgan gained a large amount of recognition when he played Denny Duquette in the hugely loved TV series Grey’s Anatomy. Morgan’s turn as Duquette spanned 3 years and 23 episodes, giving him an ample window to showcase his talent and, as a result, gain a large following and plenty of affinity.
My own personal fondness of JDM came in the shape of Watchmen, where he played Edward Blake/The Comedian. I think it’s fair to say Watchmen was received in a very mixed fashion, although recently it seems to be held in a higher regard. Morgan’s performance as The Comedian was something I clearly remember hitting me for six. I wasn’t familiar with the graphic novel from which the film was adapted, so I learned everything about The Comedian via the film, and specifically Morgan’s performance. The Comedian’s key traits are cynicism, amorality and brutality, and JDM plays this part to absolute perfection. The Comedian also considers the entire world a joke that only he can grasp. Morgan is, in my view, the unquestionable highlight of The Watchmen, alongside Jackie Earle Harley’s Rorschach, and if you haven’t seen it yet, then you’re in for a treat.
Another hugely popular film in which Morgan starred was the romantic drama P.S. I Love You. Here, JDM stars alongside popular talents, such as Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, as well as a Hollywood veteran in Kathy Bates, so it’s easy to see why this film is a favourite of many. Morgan plays the part of William, the man who Hilary Swank’s Holly meets after her husband has died. She meets him in the same bar she met her husband in, and he happens to be singing as the entertainment - another chance for Morgan to show off yet another skill he possesses. Once they get to know each other and get intimate, Holly then finds out that William was, in fact, her late husband Gerry’s best friend. A different role for JDM, bringing in softer skills, as well as singing(!), he shines yet again, endearing himself to audiences and fans of yet another genre.
Similarly to our very first Actor of the Week, Mads Mikkelsen, JDM has made an infamous character his own in a TV series. That character is the hugely popular big bad of the Walking Dead comics, Negan. In many ways, Morgan brought The Comedian to the role of Negan, with Negan being known as being brutal, profanity-laden, and possessing a sense of humour very similar to that of The Comedian; dark and twisted. He yields a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, named Lucille, after his late wife, which serves as a fantastic example of that sense of humour. Whilst it’s Popular opinion that The Walking Dead is not the show it once was, there is also no doubt that Morgan’s Negan is a highlight of what has been a disappointing two-or-so seasons. His turn as Negan has also attracted various awards, cementing this fact.
Interestingly, JDM had a cameo appearance as the father of Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and his wife, Martha, was played by Lauren Cohan. This is of interest because he also stars alongside her in Supernatural and The Walking Dead! Other notable projects of Morgan’s include The Accidental Husband and Texas Killing Fields. Most recently, Morgan has starred alongside previous Actor of the Week Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the Hollywood blockbuster Rampage. Morgan plays Harvey Russell in a film that tells the story of three animals becoming infected and a team coming together to stop them unleashing destruction in Chicago.
When I learned Morgan was cast as Negan, my fiancée and I both said we were delighted this was the case, and this is just testament to his skills, as I imagine it was a reaction many had. With this in mind, I am always, as with many of my favourite Actors of the Week, enthusiastic to know what he’s up to next. While The Comedian is of the belief that the world is a sick joke, it’s clear that Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s career is no laughing matter. Cheers, Jeffrey!