After over a decade of struggling to make a name for himself, journeyman actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan finally received his due when cast in the role of Denny Duquette, heart patient and love interest to a surgical intern, on the hit television series "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ). Prior to playing the much beloved Denny, Morgan bounced around from series to series like "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995-2005), "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-15) and "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) while occasionally making forays into feature films. After a failed attempt at a regular role on "The Burning Zone" (UPN, 1996-97), he began to breakthrough with a recurring role as the dead husband of a widow-turned-pot dealer on the acclaimed cable series "Weeds" (Showtime, 2005-2012). By the time his character was killed on "Grey's," Morgan was poised for stardom, which included a prominent role in the highly-anticipated comic book adaptation, "Watchmen" (2009) and the spy thriller "The Losers" (2010). Finally, he was given a chance to shine as a glitzy hotel owner who makes an ill-fated deal with the mob on "Magic City" (Starz, 2012-13), which delivered Morgan his first starring turn before he returned to character work in "The Good Wife" (CBS 2009-2016) and "The Walking Dead" (AMC 2010- ).
Born on April 15, 1966, in Seattle, WA, Morgan grew up wanting to be a basketball player. He attended Ben Franklin Elementary School, Rose Hill Junior High and finally Lake Washington High School, from which he graduated in 1984. Morgan went to Skagit Valley Community College on a basketball scholarship, which ended when he injured his knee. He had his first taste of acting whole performing in musical productions like "Grease" and "West Side Story" with a local theater company. After working several odd jobs, Morgan visited a friend living in Los Angeles and decided to stay to give acting a go. He made his feature debut in "Uncaged" (1991), a low budget crime thriller about a group of prostitutes who retaliate when one of their own is killed by their pimp. Morgan commenced with a series of walk-on roles and cameo spots on various television shows and in features.
After playing a killer pimp in "Dillinger and Capone" (1995), Morgan made several guest-starring appearances on shows like "Extreme" (ABC, 1994-95), "Sliders" (Fox, 1995-2000) and "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995-2005). Following his first feature starring role in the little-seen psychological thriller "Legal Deceit" (1997), Morgan first gained considerable notice when he landed the regular role of Dr. Edward Marcase on "The Burning Zone (UPN, 1996-97), a short-lived action drama about a team of agents dispatched anywhere in the world to fight against biological war and bio-hazards. Morgan continued developing his craft on television, landing more guest sports on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Monk" (USA Network, 2002-09), "Angel" (The WB, 1999-2004) and "ER." By the time he was seen on the acclaimed, but quickly canceled series "The Handler" (2003-04) and "Tru Calling" (Fox, 2003-05), Morgan was ready for bigger and better things.
His chance came in 2005 when he landed a breakout guest-starring role on "Weeds," playing Judah Botwin, the dead husband who appears via old camcorder footage and fantasies, of the show's protagonist, Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise-Parker), who becomes a marijuana dealer to make ends meet. Although his first big recurring role, the part that catapulted Morgan to the next level was playing Denny Duquette, a heart patient desperately in need of a new transplant who manages to fall for intern Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) on the popular medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy." Although originally a small part designated as a love interest for Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), his onscreen chemistry with Heigl resonated with viewers, who wanted to see more of the coupling. For two seasons, "Grey's" large and devoted audience were treated to the somber affair between Izzie and Denny, which sadly ended in the 2006 season finale with the two marrying after he finally receives his transplant, only to die of a stroke just minutes later. Fans were outraged with the death; even Morgan himself pleaded with showrunner Shonda Rhimes not to kill him off, but to no avail.
Leaving the show did free Morgan up to pursue other opportunities. He moved on to play the oft missing-in-action, demon-hunting dad John Winchester, father of brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) on "Supernatural"(The WB, 2005- ). Morgan's career on the big screen catapulted both during and after his stint on "Grey's," with the actor appearing in the romantic drama "P.S. I Love You" (2007), starring Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler and Lisa Kudrow. After supporting roles in "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" (2008) and the low-budget "Kabluey" (2008), Morgan appeared in "Watchmen" (2009), the highly-anticipated comic book adaptation about a group of superhero crime fighters in an alternate 1985, trying to find the murderer of one of their own. Morgan played Edward Blake, who transforms into The Comedian, a ruthless, almost nihilistic government-sanctioned superhero who, though killed early on, is a vital part of the story. After a number of feature roles in movies like "The Losers" (2010) and "Texas Killing Fields" (2011), Morgan became the star of his own series, "Magic City" (Starz, 2012-13), on which he played the leading role of Ike Evans, the owner of a glitzy Miami hotel circa 1959, who is forced to make an ill-fated deal with a mob boss (Danny Huston) in order to save his establishment. Morgan next starred in the historical miniseries "Texas Rising" (History 2015) before joining the cast of legal drama "The Good Wife" for its final season; at the same time, Morgan became a regular cast member on cable action drama "The Walking Dead" as Negan, the leader of a band called the Saviors.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made feature debut in the thriller "Uncaged"
Played a killer pimp in Roger Corman's "Dillinger and Capone"
Series regular debut on UPN's "The Burning Zone"
Cast as a regular on CBS' "The Handler"
Landed a recurring role as the mysterious father of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on "Supernatural" (WB)
Played the deceased husband of Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) on the Showtime series "Weeds"
Cast in a recurring role as Denny Duquette, a heart transplant patient and love interest for intern Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) on "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
Cast opposite Hilary Swank in "P.S. I Love You"
Co-starred in "The Accidental Husband" with Uma Thurman
Co-starred in Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock"
Played the cigar-chomping vigilante The Comedian in the film adaptation of "Watchmen"
Cast as Franklin Clay in the adaptation of the comic book series "The Losers"
Landed a featured role in crime drama "Texas Killing Fields"
Starred as a 1960s-era Miami Beach hotelier on "Magic City" (Starz)
Co-starred with Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener in the comedy-drama "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding"
Cast as the father of a girl cursed by an antique box in supernatural thriller "The Possession"
Appeared in the "Red Dawn" remake
Played Ike Evans on the short-lived crime drama "Magic City"
Played Joe DiMaggio on TV mini-series "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Played Jason Crouse on "The Good Wife"
Had an uncredited role as Thomas Wayne in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"
Began playing the detestable Negan on "The Walking Dead"