The extras who play the zombies on AMC's "The Walking Dead" didn't just have to go to Zombie School to learn how to shuffle and drag their legs, they had to wear heavy makeup to complete the look. Here's a peek at the work of makeup designer Greg Nicotero and his team, courtesy of AMC.
Turning into a zombie isn't easy work. AMC reveals that the actors had to endure hours in the makeup chairs. On top of that, the featured zombies often had to wear special prosthetics, contacts and dentures.
“Our zombies are tall, thin, and very gaunt looking and half the battle is finding great faces; faces that have a lot of character in them,” Nicotero said.
Nicotero said that when a zombie actor came back for another day on set, the actor would see a different makeup artist each time. "If we had a repeat zombie we’d send them to different chairs so a different member of the team worked on them each time in order to switch up the looks a bit," he said.
On the days when hundreds of zombies were required, Nicotero and his team had to get to work at the crack of dawn to make the actors look gory.
Nicotero said that there was much debate over how decomposed the zombies should look. The decision? Keep it varied. "We decided to keep it visually interesting," he said, "to hand-pick our zombies and to keep some of the makeups more ‘fresh’ looking, some in an accentuated state of decomposition and some in a complete state of decay." This makes it possible to show zombie degredation should the series become a success.
Without the constant cover of darkness, Nicotero and his team had to make sure the zombies looked good running around the city during the day. "The makeup (has) to stand up to pretty tough scrutiny," he said.
Filming in Atlanta means plenty of hot weather. Nicotero said that because of the temperature, one of the challenges was keeping the zombies looking appropriately nasty, which meant he and his staff "were always running around doing touch-ups."
“I don’t know that there’s anywhere in the world that you’ll find a better zombie,” said writer and director Frank Darabont.