The Season 3 premier is only a week away! Recently I was on the set of The Walking Dead and had a chance to speak with several cast members. First, let me preface this article by saying that it was a lot of fun meeting each and everyone of them. They’re tremendously gifted actors/actresses and are consummate, dedicated professionals. They welcomed Dead, Buried, and Back! with open arms and were gracious hosts. Behind the scenes, they’re also tight knit family. They look out for each other, joke around, and have an enthusiasm and energy that brings the whole set alive!
During Season 3 I’ll continue to bring you, our readers, more interviews and insights from the cast of The Walking Dead!
Today, I’m going to start off with executive producer and the master behind the makeup, Greg Nicotero. He discusses seasons 1, 2 and 3, his “new” on set nick name and his zombie creations. On the day of our visit, Mr. Nicotero mentioned he had 35 zombies made up. We saw a small group of them on set all I can say was I was glad I was 6 feet away!
When asked about creating zombies, he had this to say.
Greg Nicotero: In season 1 we had background masks for deep background, the mid grounds were make ups and the fore grounds were prosthetic’s. But one of the things I learned on a TV show is that they’re using multiple cameras all he time, so there’s no where safe to put background. So we changed our techniques now doing more of an assembly line. In season 2, we probably did 3,000 makeups and doubled that this year.
Dead, Buried, and Back ! : Mr. Nicotero, in the first two seasons we saw zombie kids. How come we haven’t seen more? Having said that, will we be seeing more?
Greg Nicotero : Yes, we definitively have a season 3 scenario that will be equated to the last 2 season’s iconic moments. Kids are great to work with. It was fun working with Madison’s make up last season. I remember when she said “I hope they don’t turn me into a zombie” then Frank Darabont came to me and said they had Sophia in the barn finale and I went Oh, no! when I found out we were going to make her a zombie. But she was a lot of fun to work with.
Now, there’s a joke among the cast that if the get a call from me it’s like I’m the Grim Reaper because they think oh Nicotero’s calling! Why’s he calling? Oh no I’m dead!
Mr. Nicotero starts laughing. I’m the Grim Reaper it’s horrible! I called Melissa McBride one day to say hi and she was like why are you calling me? I’m going to die aren’t I?
Mr. Nicotero continued to laugh as he added I mean what kind of job is that? I can’t even stand on set and look at somebody too long with out being asked Why are you looking at me? I believe my Halloween costume will be the Grim Reaper. I’ll walk around the set with a script and death certificates. But truthfully that’s what happens. It’s a hard thing to do when you have to kill off a character.
You know in episode 9 I do my “zombie cameo” which I finally decided one day, this is the day. So I went to the director and told her I was going to be a zombie and she went Wow! oh really? But the best part was when I went to lunch wearing my makeup and Glen Mazarra took one look at me and said “Hey, great makeup” then turned and walked away! I was thinking What the? I couldn’t believe he walked away! I didn’t even get a WOW dude! You look great…I mean, he said nothing! I was disappointed. So the next day I went to him and said hey man, you dissed me yesterday? What was up with that? Then he said Oh man! that was you? He literally didn’t know it was me, but it’s all good now.
Dead, Buried, and Back! : Is there a particular order or decision on where you place the zombies?
Greg Nicotero : Well, when we read the script we break it out and figure how many mid ground zombies we need, how many hero zombies, and how many background zombies we need. If there’s a bunch of gags then we’ll sit down and talk it through.Like if there’s a scene where Daryl crushes a zombie’s head at the back of a car ,so we’ll put a guy in makeup and bring him around have him do it, then cut and bring in a puppet head and splat it, so that’s the way we do it and it’s so much fun!
Dead, Buried,and Back! : So, what about gore?
Greg Nicotero: I love it!
Dead, Buried, and Back! : Where do you draw the line?
Greg Nicotero: Never! (Everybody in the room laughed)
Greg Nicotero: Next question. (More laughter)
Dead, Buried, and Back! : Will there be more gore for season 3?
Greg Nicotero: I remember a quote from Entertainment Weekly something about “the rivers of gore” when they were taking about us but I worked on Kill Bill, so I know something about gore and to me, The Walking Dead isn’t that gory. It intrigues me that when I compare it to a film like Reservoir Dogs and the scene where the guy’s ear gets get off I have people tell me how gory that was. But I’m like, they didn’t show it… there wasn’t any gore. That was the beauty of Quinton Tarintino’s work. He panned away. I think people just fill in the gaps and that’s what we do with The Walking Dead. If we make every zombie gag a hero feature kill, you’d be numb and it would lose its luster. So we try and hit the accents.
Dead, Buried, and Back! : How far will you deviate from the comic before you stop and turn back?
Greg Nicotero: Sometimes we deviate, we’re always aware of the source material. It’s strong… and dark too. I mean, it makes it unique and it goes to these weird places. When I was directing I picked frames that feel like graphic panels. It was cool and iconic. That means I like throw a nod back to the source material. But I use an analogy that the source material is a freeway, but every now and then you want to exit, explore around, then back on the freeway and do the same thing a little further down the road. If you look at Shane, he was gone in the first and second book, but we kept him around because Frank Darabont loved Jon Bernthal. His acting and his character Shane had so much more to give us.
Dead, Buried, and Back!: Thanks again for spending time with Dead, Buried, and Back! today Mr. Nicotero and we’re looking forward to the upcoming season.
Greg Nicotero : It’s gonna be great!
* Dead, Buried, and Back ! would like to extend it’s appreciation and gratitude to the actors and actresses as well as the publicists, and agents who make these interviews possible.