You might not know it from his turn as the drinking, smoking, fighting, date-raping Comedian or his upcoming role as Special Ops Ass-Kicker, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a big ol’ sweetheart. While in beautiful Puerto Rico filming The Losers, an innocent little dog emerged from the jungle, only to be promptly hit by a car. The dog survived and Morgan adopted the little rascal, who took on the name Bandito. The “Puerto Rican Jungle Mutt,” as he’s described, was nursed back to health and soon realized that good fortune had stuck him – along with that car. The little guy now resides full time with Morgan, who back stateside, dropped the ‘o’ and added Bandit to his family.
To mask that inner puppy-dog, Jeffrey was sporting skull rings and some pretty bad ass arm bands, in addition to the scruff that settles on your face after a long and weary press tour. “I actually like talking about this movie,” he says, “ so it’s alright.” In all seriousness, Morgan is no cream-puff, just like all men, he has a soft spot for dogs. And guns. “I love guns. I love shooting them. I love the feel of them,” he says as we instantly connect via love of sending small projectiles into objects at high speed. His favorite handgun, which he opines about for a few moments, is the Model 1911 which he wields in Watchmen, The Losers, and his upcoming films Red Dawn and The Fields, in which he stars alongside Sam Worthington.
Despite having been talking about The Losers non-stop for three hours that day (and several days prior to this), Morgan is a cool guy to talk to and earnestly liked making the film. Like co-star Idris Elba, he describes the on-set relationships as being vital to creating real on-screen chemistry. “We had so much fun making it,” he says of the movie. “What I hope is that people go see this friggen movie so that we can do it again… The chemistry was real. That’s sort of the coolest deal.” Morgan then admits to me that actors always say this and normally it’s bullshit (his word), but this time around he means it. He talks about how normally a movie will have one or two big egos attached that can grind the process down, but on The Losers the cast hung out “damn near 24/7” and got a long. Should we believe him? After seeing the chemistry on screen, hell yes.
Conversation, obviously, turns to comic books, of which Morgan is a fan – many celebrities, even ones in comic movies, don’t read comics, so that’s cool. I ask him if there’s a character he’d like to bring to the screen, which mutates into a story about how, five years after first reading the script for The Losers he got the part thanks to Jonah Hex.
“I’m a big fan of Jonah Hex… . Warner Brothers had originally approached me about Jonah Hex. In my meeting with Akiva Goldsman he brought up Losers, which I didn’t know he has (the rights to), and I’m like – all the bells went off – ding ding ding ding. That’s the movie, that’s the one I’ve been chasing down all these years.”
Just like that, Morgan found the movie for which he was hunting. All that was left was to film it, which likely turned out to be more like vacation, shooting in lovely Puerto Rico with a fun script that allowed room for improvisation. “A lot of it wasn’t scripted,” he explains. “Usually producers and writers are like ‘No man, you stay with what’s on the page.’” With The Losers, this aspect was completely different than his experience on Watchmen. Here he and the others were free to play off of each other and find their characters, whereas in the Snyder film, Morgan carried a copy of the graphic novel around and wouldn’t deviate. He recollects speaking to Zack Snyder and his devotion to the source material with this: “’This is what the Comedian says, Zack.’ And I would not deviate from that ever, except maybe throwing in a couple F-Bombs.”
Of course I wouldn’t let the interview end without bring up one of my most anticipated movies of the year – Red Dawn. “It was a hard shoot,” he explains, telling me how two days after he left a tropical paradise he was in the middle of a Michigan winter. Still, he says he had a lot of fun with the “really talented group of young actors.”
As a huge fan of the original, Morgan was excited and somewhat troubled by the call when he asked about his interest in the role. “What do you want me to do,” he questions, “these guys are all kids!” The realization that he’ll take on the mentor roll first filled by Powers Boothe settles in, but he’s not in love with the idea of being cast as “the old guy.”
He does realize though that his age is an asset. As Clay, the leader of The Losers, he’s an older character in the book, a friend, yet someone who still commands authority. On set, he was a little older than everyone, which helped him earn their respect right off the bat off-screen.
Towards the end of our time I sneak in a little bit more comic talk. He’s excited for Chris Evans’s role as Captain America in the upcoming Marvel feature and is a big fan of Iron Man, which he read back as a kid. I press for more information on which comics he’d like to bring to the screen and he confesses he doesn’t have as much time as he wants to just go sift through the stacks. “There’s a ton of untapped material out there,” he says. “Let’s read it.” His relationship with DC Comics comes up and he recognizes he has a great opportunity to snag the roles he wants from the comic world. “I’m looking for something,” he says, referring to the hunt for material.
I hope he finds it. I’d watch it.