While he may be making waves with his current role portraying Negan on AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues to remain a mystery from the public audience.
Not a big fan of being in the Hollywood spotlight, the fifty-year-old actor has managed to create a prominent resume for his career, despite not being high on the media’s radar and spotlight. With an array of successful television and films under his belt, Morgan is considered to be one of the most talented actors in the business. His dominant acting abilities and ruggedly handsome good looks, is a combination that sets him apart from other actors in the industry.
You may know that Negan loves to wreak havoc, carry a barbed wire bat, and kill, but there are several facts about Morgan and his life that you may not yet be aware of. Sincerely proud of keeping his personal life private, there seems to be little known about the actor. From a secret marriage, to owning a candy shop with a fellow A-list actor, Morgan continues to be an enigma to the public.
So, for all you walker fans out there dying to know more about the man beyond the leather get-up, continue reading these 15 tidbits about Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
15. He Is A Former Football & Basketball Star
Prior to his acting days, the fifty-year-old was a dominant athlete. In his high school days at Lake Washington High School in Seattle, Morgan was a starter on the varsity basketball team. While he also spent time on the football field during those times, his true love was basketball and he had his sights set on making a living on the court by shooting hoops. Rightfully so, his moves on the court were impressive enough to land him an athletic scholarship to Skaggit Valley College in Mount Vernon. With his growing basketball aspirations, he had plans of becoming a professional athlete in the National Basketball Association. However, those dreams came to crashing halt after he suffered a career ending injury. Seeing as Morgan admits to only attending college because of his passion for basketball, following his knee injury, he decided to seek another path that would lead him to a promising career.
14. He Accidentally Stumbled Upon Acting
Following a knee injury that sidelined his aspirations of going pro with basketball, Morgan set out to discover his next move. With an additional passion for drawing, the Washington native ended up starting a graphic design company in Seattle. But a random trip to Los Angeles in order to help a friend move became a pivotal moment for both his career and life. While Morgan only thought that he would be driving a U-Haul truck for a few days before returning back to his job in design, he unknowingly stumbled upon an opportunity that he couldn’t refuse. While in the City of Angels, Morgan met a casting agent who was apparently taken with his rugged looks and encouraged him to audition for a role in the 1991 thriller, Uncaged. That role would become his first ever gig and act as a catalyst for his impressive acting career.
13. He Rescued A Dog While Filming
Morgan may currently be playing a remorseless villain on AMC’s The Walking Dead, but in real life, he has a heart and a weak spot for animals; especially dogs. When filming his movie, The Losers, in Puerto Rico, the actor sadly witnessed a traumatic scene involving an innocent dog. After watching the horrific event of the puppy getting hit by a passing car, Morgan was extremely insistent on paying for the dog’s medical treatment. Thinking that would be the last time he ever saw the animal, he was surprised when the dog showed up on set. A week following the incident, the puppy was delivered to the actor on set in a full body cast. With no hesitation, Morgan called his then-pregnant wife and informed her that he would be bringing home a dog. Today, the dog, now named Bandit, is Morgan’s trusted sidekick. Bandit, a Shepard mutt, joins the actor’s other dog Bisou, a Rottweiler mix.
12. He Was Accused Of Fathering A Child With His Ex
Not a big fan of being crowned a ‘celebrity’, Morgan spends a great amount of effort to keeping his personal life private from the media. However, he was unable to keep his private life a secret when his ex-girlfriend Sherrie Rose exposed that he fathered her four-year-old son. In 2009, Rose revealed to US Magazine that she and Morgan share a young son, despite his lack of knowledge of the allegation. While the magazine revealed that sources close to the actor state that he is eager to be in his child’s life, a recent interview revealed that this isn’t the case. In a 2015 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Morgan was asked how many children he had, which he responded back with “I have one”. Whether it be that the child was ultimately discovered not to be Morgan’s or he is keeping that aspect of his life private, the actor continues to publicly state that he only has one son, which he shares with his current significant other, Hilarie Burton.
11. He Lives On A Working Farm
In addition to being an avid dog lover, the actor has recently admitted that he owns several other animals on his upstate New York farm where he lives with his wife and young son, Gus. With over 60 acres of working farm land, Morgan and his family are proud owners of alpacas, chickens, Llamas, and even a herd of cattle. In fact, in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the Negan actor confessed that his Llama’s name is Wally and his alpacas are respectfully named Tony and Stella. While Morgan has names for his pets, he also revealed that the eggs laid by his chickens end up in his kitchen for consumption. The dream of living on a farm became a reality years ago when Morgan and his wife decided they wanted to raise their family in an outdoor setting. Their plans lead them to Rhinebeck, New York following the birth of their son.
10. He Has Son Named Augustus
Despite his ex-girlfriend sharing to media outlets that The Walking Dead actor is the father to her son, the actor has only been publicly seen with one. Morgan and his longtime love and fellow actress, Hilarie Burton, share a six-year-old son named Augustus Morgan; who is commonly referred to as Gus. Born in March of 2010, the couple is keen on keeping their young son away from the public eye. However, he has been seen accompanying his parents to several charity events and vacations during which some paparazzi have been able to capture photos. In a 2012 interview with Parade magazine, Morgan spoke about the joys of fatherhood, “I know everyone thinks that their kid is the greatest, but I’m telling you right now that my kid is.” The family of three did make a front cover appearance following their photoshoot and interview with, Living Rhineback, a local magazine in the town they call home.
9. He Credits Grey’s Anatomy For Reviving His Career
While the actor has an impressive resume of television and film roles beside other prominent actors, Morgan isn’t ashamed to admit that his role on Grey’s Anatomy as Denny Duquette, was a huge boost to his career. Despite breaking millions of hearts with his role on the hit medical drama in 2006, he caught the attention of several casting agents and directors and from there, his career began to flourish. And while Morgan is now in yet another prime time of his career, he is grounded enough to appreciate his role on the Shonda Rhimes series. In a 2010 interview with Flaunt Magazine, Morgan stated, “I wake up every morning and thank Shonda Rhimes. That role gave me a career.” Which means, if it wasn’t for his time as the dying heartthrob patient at Seattle Grace Hospital, Morgan possibly wouldn’t currently be walking around with a barbed wire bat wreaking havoc on those who cross him.
8. He Owns A Candy Shop With Paul Rudd
If balancing his busy acting schedule wasn’t enough, Morgan became co-owner of a candy shop last year with his good friend and fellow actor, Paul Rudd. After moving to the upstate New York town of Rhinebeck a few years ago with his family, Morgan met the former store owner Ira Gutner. Since 1994, Gutner had owned “Samuel’s of Rhineback”, but after he passed, Rudd and Morgan knew that they had to buy the store as the two friends feared the shop would turn into a chain restaurant. Now called “Samuel’s Sweet Shop”, the Hollywood actors pooled their money together and in the process were able to preserve Gutner’s legacy and keep a successful town favorite alive. With the additional help of Morgan’s wife, Hilarie Burton, and Rudd, the trio continue to deliver an array of delicious treats to the small town. Many fans receive unexpected surprises while visiting the shop when either Morgan or Rudd stop by their business and check in.
7. He Was A Fan Of TWD Before Joining The Cast
Before spending long hours on set in a head-to-toe leather costume, Morgan spent hours on his couch watching The Walking Dead. The fifty-year-old actor was first exposed to the show after hearing a guest at Comic-Con suggest that he would be a great fit for the role as the charismatic villain. From there, Morgan began reading the graphic novel that inspired the series and was immediately hooked. Five years later, he received a call from his agent who informed him that the hit AMC show was offering him a role. Despite not initially telling him who he would be portraying on the show, Morgan knew that it was for the role of Negan. As a fan of the show and novel, he knew that it was only a matter of time before the psychopathic leader made an appearance. Which is why there was no hesitation when it came to accepting the role as Negan.
6. He Is Extremely Dedicated To Prepping For Roles
Many actors in Hollywood have their own methods of prepping for a new project. Wanting to get in touch with their character and accurately portray them, they will go to great lengths to prepare for a role. And Morgan is no exception. In order to deliver an authentic performance for his role in the film The Fields, he and co-star, Sam Worthington, participated in multiple pre-production research. Seeing as they were playing two cops investigating a serial killer, the actors visited the LA sheriff department to shadow law enforcement officials to gain firsthand experience that would be beneficial to their roles. Taking his dedication one step further, Morgan hung out at a morgue for nearly six hours observing and learning from public servants who have the task of executing these jobs. In addition to his education of criminal justice, the actor severely changed his diet in order to lose forty pounds for his role in the History Channel’s miniseries, Texas Rising.
5. He Has A Tattoo Of His Favorite Prop
It’s not uncommon for actors to part with a souvenir following the wrapping of a television series or film, and in Morgan’s case, he parted with a lifetime reminder. While others leave with an item from the wardrobe department or set decoration, Morgan left with a tattoo. When filming the Danish western, The Salvation, in 2013, the actor grew fond of the revolver his character was using in the movie. Growing attached to both the prop and his character, the actor decided to tattoo the gun on his forearm after production concluded in Africa. According to Morgan, his decision to permanently ink his skin with a memento of the film, prompted other cast mates to do the same throughout the last few days of filming. The tattoo of the revolver joins the ranks of two other tattoos Morgan has on his chest and shoulder.
4. He Is The Father Of The Winchester Brothers
Morgan may be causing trouble in the zombie infested, post-apocalyptic world that is The Walking Dead, but before that, he was fighting off things that go bump in the night on the CW’s hit series, Supernatural. In 2006, the fifty-year-old actor joined the cast as John Winchester, the father of paranormal hunters Dean and Sam, portrayed by Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The brothers spent the majority of the first season searching for their father who seemed to have disappeared during a routine hunting trip. Morgan’s character was widely accepted by fans and they were devastated to learn of his death the following season. Despite not appearing in an episode for a decade, Morgan continues to be a large part of the fandom and sincere friends with Ackles and Padalecki. But like any real fan knows, not everything that is dead on the show stays dead. Which means there’s hope that Morgan can make an appearance in the future.
3. He Was Formally Engaged To Mary-Louise Parker
As seems to be the trend in Hollywood, the majority of the couples found love on set. However, many of those relationships result in the same conclusion; separation. This happened to be the case for Morgan and actress Mary-Louise Parker. After meeting on the set of Weeds in 2006, the two co-stars quickly began a romantic relationship. Their newfound love mirrored their on-screen relationship as Morgan played Parker’s character’s dead husband on the show. After dating for a few years, the couple announced their engagement in early 2008, but they ultimately called it quits the following April. The break-up came as no surprise considering the former duo’s relationship was constantly an on-again, off-again coupling. During the time they dated, Parker adopted a baby girl after welcoming a son with her former partner Billy Crudup. Today, Morgan is married and has a six-year-old son.
2. He Is A Motorcycle Enthusiast
When not filming long hours on set or spending time with his family, Morgan enjoys riding motorcycles. In fact, the actor has one on-set demand; his bike. His passion for motorcycles first began when he moved to Los Angeles after accidentally stumbling upon his acting career when he randomly met a casting agent. Unable to afford a car for almost ten years when he first moved to California, Morgan relied on a chopper to get him around the City of Angels. While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the actor revealed that he owns five motorcycles. Among those bikes are a Night Rod Special, a Harley Davidson V-Rod, and a Softail Cross Bones. He is so comfortable on his personal motorcycles that he even invites his dogs along for joy rides. Since he didn’t have a car for many years, he had his dogs rest on the back of his bike to take them to and from appointments when needed.
1. He’s Married To Actress Hilarie Burton
Despite a failed marriage and engagement in his past, Morgan had no hesitations about finding new love with actress Hilarie Burton. The couple met in 2009 when the fifty-year-old actor was set up on a blind date by his good friend and Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles. Burton happened to be a close friend and former co-star with Ackles’ wife, Danneel Harris, during their time on the CW’s hit drama One Tree Hill. Despite having plans to travel Paris that summer, Morgan convinced the thirty-four-year-old actress to spend those months with him in New Mexico while he filmed The Resident. After hitting it off on their double date with Ackles, the couple made their red carpet debut in April of 2010. That same year, Burton gave birth to their son, Augustus, before quietly tying the knot in a secret ceremony a few years later. The happy couple now lives in Rhinebeck, New York on a farm with their young son.