The actor spoke to Interview magazine about filming the absorbing episode

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Negan on The Walking Dead, has revealed that shooting the opening episode of the new season of the show was “an emotionally draining” experience.

Full spoilers for The Walking Dead, Season 7 Episode 1 are posted below – proceed with caution

Morgan plays the new antagonist on the hit AMC show, which returned to screens in the US on Sunday night (October 23) with an explosive opening episode. The cliffhanger from the sixth season was finally resolved, with both Abraham and Glen falling victim to Negan’s wrath.

Morgan played a prominent role in the graphic new episode, and spoke to Interview magazine about the experience of shooting such a range of emotionally-charged scenes.

“Look, that whole episode was hard, and also because I did go through and smack everybody with Lucille [Negan’s barbed wire-covered bat] at a certain point: everybody took a hit,” Morgan said, referring to the producers’ decision to film each member of Rick’s group being murdered by Negan to avoid the episode’s real outcome from being leaked.

“All of that was hard. It got to the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore,” he said. “Emotionally I was completely drained — all of us were, I would imagine. Andy [Lincoln, who plays Rick] and I just went through the ringer. It was a hard episode, and having to get there time and time again to do these horrible things… They’re all good people, and I love them —the whole cast— so to keep riding them as hard as I was riding them, in-between takes it was like, god, you’ve got to catch your breath a little bit.

“It was just so fucking heavy at all times. In the show that aired, there’s no let up, and it was like that for 10 days for us. It wasn’t just 40 minutes of it; it was 10 days of that, every day, all day.”

Footage was today leaked of an alternate scene from the opening episode, which showed Maggie – who survived in the final cut – being murdered by Negan.