11:31am PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead' Casts Its Lucille
The Walking Dead has found its Lucille — and no, we're not talking about the baseball bat.
Instead, it's the original Lucille, the one who gave Negan's famed barbed-wired baseball bat its name: his wife, who died in tragic fashion before the events of the zombie drama. The character will appear in the upcoming batch of season 10 bonus episodes, with a familiar face occupying the role: One Tree Hill veteran Hilarie Burton Morgan, who happens to be Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan's real-life wife.
"Been working pretty hard to keep this a secret," Burton Morgan wrote on Twitter. "I love the [Walking Dead] family. They've been a part of our family for ages and I'm so grateful for their kindness."
Burton Morgan's casting marks her latest collaboration with both Jeffrey Dean Morgan and AMC since the start of the global pandemic, as the two headlined chat show Friday Night in With the Morgans. The casting represents one way networks have been able to film scenes between loved ones during the pandemic: by casting actors' real-life partners. Soaps have leaned on this tactic with stand-ins; The CW's upcoming Walker, Texas Ranger reboot will see Genevieve Padalecki starring opposite her husband, Jared Padalecki.
Currently in its 10th season, The Walking Dead wrapped up its fall finale in October, which was at first meant to end the season. Instead, because of the pandemic, AMC ordered an additional six episodes of the series ahead of the 24-episode 11th and final season of the flagship zombie drama.
"It's being treated as an extension of season 10, however, it came about because of the pandemic, and we had already started writing season 11 proper," showrunner Angela Kang previously told The Hollywood Reporter about the additional episodes. "There's just no way we could have shot the premiere that we were planning during this time. And people felt we can get back to work safely, but just not doing that [episode] right now. There's 300 zombie extras and people crammed in spaces. And so rather than just not do anything at all, the studio asked us, 'Hey, can we do some episodes that pick up off of the end of season 10 and kind of continue the story and lead right into season 11?' In a way, creatively, it's a way to bridge, but it kind of came about because of the needs of the pandemic, and it's given us this great opportunity to dive into characters and do some experiments with the storytelling out of the box that we were in, in terms of production limitations and the parameters of what we had to do. I hope that these episodes end up being really satisfying stories for the fans, because I think you get to really dive into some of these characters in fun ways."
It appears Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan will be one such character to stand in the spotlight, with an eye on humanizing his history. Negan's wife, Lucille, died from cancer several years before the current events of the series, which is why the former leader of the Saviors looks so fondly on his signature weapon, named for her.
Of course, no one expects Burton Morgan will provide voiceover for Lucille the baseball bat … then again, it's 2020; stranger things have happened.
ComicBook.com was first to report the casting.