The untold truth of Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan might be a household name thanks to unforgettable roles in television shows like The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural, and The Good Wife, but that wasn't always the case. While it might be hard to believe, there was a time in Morgan's life when it seemed no one wanted to cast him. In fact, the actor spent years honing his craft and auditioning for roles before he finally got his big break. Despite scoring bit parts in shows like The O.C., ER, and Angel, one of TV's most charismatic stars once thought he might have to quit his acting career for good.

Since finding his footing in Hollywood, Morgan has gone on to star in successful movies like P.S. I Love You, The Losers, Watchmen, and Rampage, and he has a successful family life, too. From getting married to a popular actress to living the quiet life in a small town, Morgan appears to be loving life — and we can't blame him. Here's everything you need to know about Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's manager dropped him just before he hit the big time

Before Jeffrey Dean Morgan simultaneously hit our screens in Grey's Anatomy, Weeds, and Supernatural in the mid-2000s, he nearly gave up on being an actor. In 2015, Moves reported that Morgan had been "dumped" by his manager a decade prior, and in a brutal way no less. The actor explained that she had told him in no uncertain terms, "I'm expendable, that I'm too old, whatever it was, that I didn't have the talent." However, the setback only drove Morgan to pursue his career in Tinseltown even harder: "It was crushing. But I remember thinking, 'I've got no other option, here. What the? I can't give this up now.'"

Of course, Morgan's risk paid off. "The next day, Morgan signed with a new manager and hit a triple, scoring high-profile gigs," per Moves, on those above-mentioned shows, which would end up launching his unforgettable career — and it was a long time coming. He'd been scouted by a casting agent when he first arrived in Los Angeles, but as he told the media outlet, "Cut to 30 years later, and I can barely pay my rent, and I don't know what the f**k I've gotten into. I've got no education, and I've put all my eggs in this one stupid basket."

 But that basket is looking pretty good right about now.

He was engaged to Weeds co-star Mary-Louise Parker

Before Jeffrey Dean Morgan met his now-wife (more on this below), he was engaged to Weeds co-star Mary-Louise Parker. Morgan portrayed Parker's late husband on the show, which started airing in 2005, but their on-screen chemistry spilled over into real life. The former couple had somewhat of an on-and-off relationship, with reports of breakups and makeups surfacing throughout 2007. In fact, when a media outlet reported that the castmates had been spotted arguing in public, Parker told People that March, "The New York Post said we were fighting at Nobu, but I'm certainly not dumb enough to fight at a [high-profile] restaurant like Nobu."

By the following February, the celeb pairing had gotten engaged. However, just a short two months later, the engagement was off. At the time, representatives for the couple had refused to comment on the rumored split. In 2015, Parker released a memoir called Dear Mr. You, described by Today as "a collection of letters to the men that have impacted her life, both good and bad." Since the actress-writer opted not to use names, it's unclear whether Morgan made the cut.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan married a One Tree Hill alum

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's love story with Hilarie Burton, who famously played Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill, is one for the ages. According to E! News, they started dating in 2009 after being introduced by Morgan's Supernatural co-star, Jensen Ackles — who just so happens to be married to Burton's One Tree Hill co-star, Daneel Ackles. The alcohol-fueled blind date went swimmingly, with Morgan telling HuffPost (via E! News) in 2015, "I [got lit]. We all did. We ended up back at my house drinking shots of tequila."

Despite multiple reports to the contrary, the pair didn't actually marry until 10 years later. Burton dispelled the previous marriage rumors when she announced their actual wedding on Instagram in October 2019: "For years, publications have reported that we got married in 2014 or 2015 and that I've been married and divorced before. All untrue. But WE knew our truth. So it felt silly to try and correct anything." But Burton made it clear that the couple had already basically been living "as husband and wife for a decade." She added, "From the moment I met @jeffreydeanmorgan, he was my husband. Rather than make vows right out of the gate, we lived them. For over ten years." 

To top it all off, Us Weekly reports that the wedding was officiated by The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus and the man responsible for introducing the happy couple, Jensen Ackles.

They live on a working farm

Hilarie Burton and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are not only a happily married couple, but they also live on a working farm together. The newlyweds reside in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, which is in upstate New York. While speaking about their abode with Parade in 2012, Morgan said, "We found a little piece of land with a log cabin in the Hudson Valley that we love. We're like Little House on the Prairie out there, getting up in the morning to chop wood. People would laugh if they saw us, but that's the world I'm comfortable with." Burton even shared a behind-the-scenes look at the couple's farm life in a 2018 Twitter video, which she captioned with, "It's Alpaca/Llama Shearing Day!!!!!!! @JDMorgan #farmfun."

When Burton and Morgan were asked why they chose Rhinebeck to be their home by the Hudson Valley News Network in 2016, the latter explained, "We bought a little cabin up here thinking, 'Well, we'll spend a month or two out of the year [here]' ... We had a house in L.A. and we never went back." They loved the Hudson Valley area so much that they ended up expanding their property: "Now we have a big farm and lots of animals."

It seems that Morgan and Burton enjoy the quiet life and the privacy that living in a more remote area allows them. It certainly seems like a world away from the bright lights of Hollywood.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan owns a candy store with Paul Rudd

Another perk of living in upstate New York? Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a member of a small community, but it just so happens that actor Paul Rudd lives nearby, too. And in an unexpected turn of events, the actors became co-owners of a candy store called Samuel's Sweet Shop on East Market Street in Rhinebeck. Having frequented the store for years, Morgan, Rudd, and several people from the community joined forces when the store's previous owner, Ira Gutner, suddenly died. Rather than letting a local institution close down, they took action. 

Revealing that Gutner had been the first person he met in the town during a 2016 appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Morgan revealed, "Paul and I had been friends for a while and we just didn't want it to turn into, y'know, a smoothie stand or something ... So we were like, 'Yeah, let's pool our money together and get a candy store.'"

On the candy store's 25th anniversary in 2019, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Burton was personally responsible for helping install the shop's flooring, while Morgan "has hauled equipment."  Perhaps downplaying their involvement, Morgan once joked on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, "Paul and I have literally nothing to do with it, other than eating the candy."

He delivered both of his kids

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilarie Burton are parents to son Augustus (born in 2010) daughter George Virginia (born in 2018). But the proud dad was more involved in his children's births than you might think. 

During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in 2018, Morgan revealed that he helped to deliver both of his kiddos. "I wasn't prepped for this at all," he said of the birth of his first child. "No one said, 'You're going to catch the baby.'" Morgan explained that, at the crucial moment of delivery, the midwife stepped out of the way and told him, "Get on in there," to which he understandably "panicked." However, by the time his daughter was born, Morgan was a total pro: "With George, knowing what I knew ... I just went in and I grabbed her by her little cheeks and had her out in three seconds."

Morgan had previously told People, "I always wanted a little girl. I got my little boy and now I get to have a little girl, so we're very, very excited." In a heartbreaking Instagram post, Burton revealed that she'd had several miscarriages prior to conceiving George, making their baby girl's arrival all the more special. "Fertility is a fickle thing," the actress wrote. "And for the other couples out there who have had dark days, we want to introduce our miracle baby to you and send you our love and support in finding yours."

Jeffrey Dean Morgan was destined to play Negan on The Walking Dead

While Jeffrey Dean Morgan is now pretty much synonymous with his role as the villainous Negan on The Walking Dead, it seems as though he was destined to land the coveted part. In 2016, the actor told Interview magazine, "I was at a Comic-Con actually, I think it was in San Diego, when somebody came up to me and said, 'Have you seen Kirkman's new book?' I said, 'No,' and they said, 'There's this character Negan. You should be Negan.'" Morgan went on to explain that once he got around to reading said issue, he knew that he'd be a great fit for the role, saying, "Oh yeah, that would be fun to play."

It wasn't until five years later that the AMC series decided to introduce the character, but the production team apparently already had Morgan in mind for the part. Morgan's agent had called and said, "The Walking Dead is offering you the role of a villain." However, they refused to reveal the villain's name at the time, keeping the character's identity strictly under wraps. Still, that was the moment Morgan realized that he'd landed his dream role. "I knew immediately — I knew because I watched the show and knew where we were," he told Interview. "And I'm like, 'It's f**king Negan! And I'm going to f**king do it.'"

He shares a bromance with Norman Reedus

As co-stars on The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan hangs out with Norman Reedus (who, of course, plays Daryl Dixon) quite a bit. In an interview with ABC News, Morgan explained, "I spend a lot of time with Norman. Not only do we live next to each other in Georgia, but we both have this big affinity toward motorcycles." The two actors initially bonded over their shared interest, and that appears to be what's kept them together. "We spend a lot of time on the roads," Morgan continued. "It's kind of a great way to unwind and we have that in common. So I talk to him daily."

In fact, their bromance is so real that Morgan regularly posts sweet selfies that he's taken with Reedus on social media. When Reedus was nominated for two People's Choice Awards in 2019, Morgan gushed all about his love for his castmate on Instagram, going so far as to call him "one of the more special people I've ever had the privilege to know ... there is no better friend." Morgan also wrote that "no one is more loyal, loving, protective, generous," making it clear that he has a lot of admiration and respect for the actor responsible for portraying Daryl Dixon.

This actor begged Shonda Rhimes to keep him on Grey's Anatomy

Fans will remember Jeffrey Dean Morgan's star-making role as Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy, a patient who got engaged to Katherine Heigl's Izzie Stevens, only to be suddenly killed off in the show's second season finale. Morgan revealed to the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that he loved playing this character so much that he pleaded with the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, to let him stay. Of filming his final scene, he said, "It was a grim day, let me tell you. A dark, grim day. I'm still not over it. It broke my heart to leave that show." 

Fans of the series will likely agree that Morgan's emotional turn was a real tearjerker. However, Rhimes found a way to make everyone's dreams come true by bringing Morgan back on the show years later. The actor revealed to Parade in 2012, "I got a call from Shonda Rhimes, who said, 'This is going to seem crazy, but what do you think about coming back?'" Morgan, of course, jumped at the chance, especially as he thought his days on the Shondaland series were over. "She took a chance on a guy who apparently was too old and not talented," Morgan told Moves three years later, while expressing that he'll be forever grateful to Rhimes for changing his life (and we're so glad she did!). "And she was like, 'You're my guy!' That was it for me."

Jeffrey Dean Morgan will do anything for a role

For his role on the History Channel's miniseries Texas Rising, Jeffrey Dean Morgan lost over 40 pounds to play a character with consumption. During an interview on the Today show in 2015, Morgan revealed how he went about losing so much weight: "I ate a can of tuna fish a day. I did it in the most unhealthy way I could. I didn't consult with a doctor or anything. We had said maybe we should lose, like, 10 pounds and then I just kept going and going. And by the end of the movie, I just looked like hell." When the talk show's hosts asked if he'd eaten any tuna fish since, Morgan simply replied, "I don't ever want to see tuna again." This is totally understandable.

But this wasn't the first time Morgan undertook some pretty big challenges for a role. In 2007, he revealed to Collider that he'd learned to sing and play guitar for his role in the movie P.S. I Love You. "I played guitar and I sang," he said, before quipping, "Now mind you, I think they used someone else's voice in the final cut, but after a couple Guinnesses I thought I was sounding pretty good on that. I was like you know this is alright." 

Morgan's voice might have been dubbed over in the finished product, but it's clear this actor is committed to his craft, and we love him all the more for that.