Long before The Walking Dead confirmed Negan to arrive with the Season 6 finale, fans touted suggestion after suggestion of actors perfectly suited to the bombastic role. Chief among them, perhaps, was music icon Henry Rollins, on whom Negan’s comic likeness was actually based, who now admits he’d actually auditioned for the role that Jeffrey Dean Morgan ultimately claimed.

Rollins is no stranger to dramatic roles, having notably played major villains in everything from Sons of Anarchy to Legend of Korra, though few knew if the former Black Flag and Rollins Band frontman could end up joining The Walking Dead, even with Image Comics artist Charlie Adlard originally basing Negan’s features on him. Rollins spoke to Forbes on his upcoming feature The Last Heist, in the process revealing his audition for The Walking Dead, the non-disclosure of which has since-lapsed:

Since I didn’t get the part I can tell you this. I was up for the role of Negan because Charlie Adlard, who worked on the comic book, based that guy on me and so I was a shoo-in for an audition. The internet was wild with speculation because in the upcoming season they were going to introduce the character. A woman that works in my office put my name and the character’s name into an internet search and all this speculation came up. I went for the audition and there were five pages of really cool dialogue with all these curses and it was beautiful, but I didn’t get it.

I later saw a photograph of the guy who did get it and he looks almost exactly like the comic book rendering. The woman at my office watched the episode where he turns up, the dialogue that I auditioned with was in the show and she said, ‘It should have been you.’ Obviously it wasn’t or this conversation would be very different but that happened. I had to sign one of those documents where you can’t talk about it but now it’s over and done with… so yeah, I was up for that part.

Granted, we’ve seen relatively little of star Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the role, at least beyond the notes of menace played in the characters’ initial comic appearance (itself replicated for home release with full profanity), but one can’t deny the enticing prospect of Rollins recreating some of the very panels he’d been drawn in. It also goes without saying that Morgan’s first appearance struck something of a sour note, given the increasingly precarious cliffhanger that still has fans in a tizzy.

We’ll see more of Morgan’s Negan this fall, and likely even at Comic-Con next month, but was Henry Rollins better suited to the role in more ways than appearance?


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