The Third Season of “The Walking Dead“ is just over halfway done shooting and now AMC has an interview up with special effects/makeup guru Greg Nicotero. In it, he speaks in-depth about the design of the creatures and a few special surprises for Season 3.
The show, “tells the story of the weeks and months that follow a pandemic zombie apocalypse. County Sheriff Rick Grimes travels with his family and a small group of survivors, constantly in search of a safe and secure home. But the constant pressure of fighting off death on a daily basis takes a heavy toll, sending many to the lowest depths of human cruelty. As Rick struggles to keep his family alive, he will discover that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be far more dangerous than the mindless walkers roaming the earth.”
On Michonne’s pets, “They’re missing their arms, their jaws and their teeth… We actually sculpted the front of the walkers’ faces out about an inch and a half, so when you see the walkers on camera, those are not their real eyes — those are glass eyes that are built into the prosthetic. But by building the prosthetic piece out, we were able to deemphasize their real chin, which was covered under the foam latex piece, so you could stand on set and look at their faces and not see their chin, as if their entire jawbone was torn out. It was a really good marriage of a practical prosthetic face, prosthetics on the body and then the visual effects that erased the arms. It’s pretty amazing.”
A: The prison is certainly the beacon for things to come. When you reach that milestone, we know we’ve turned a corner and now we know that different and bigger things are coming. It’s like watching Jaws and seeing the little yellow barrel and saying, “OK, that’s the yellow barrel, so I know the shark is somewhere around here.” It’s just a question of when he’s going to surface.
Q: You’re now directing your second The Walking Dead episode after last season’s “Judge, Jury, Executioner.” What can you tell us about it?
A: I tend to get these really good dramatic bits in my episodes… I got the script and I read it and it’s huge. Every single character in the show has something to do, something to say and there are great dramatic moments. I also had several key moments from the graphic novel that fans will recognize that I had to establish and set up in Episode 5 that will play out through the rest of the season. And then there’s a lot more zombie action in my episode. Actually there’s a lot more zombie action in every episode this season.
Q: Tell us about the zombie decomposition that’s happening in Season 3. How are you changing the ways the zombies are portrayed from season to season?
A: Well one thing I always think about and the rest of the crew can attest to is just how grueling the weather is in Georgia. The sun literally will bake you if you stand out in the sun too long. And one day I’m thinking about it and I’m like, “OK, what would happen to these creatures that have no actual ability to protect themselves from the elements?” So you can only imagine how horrible the smell would be, and what we felt it was important to play up is the idea that these things are becoming dried up and disintegrated and leathery.
Q: We heard there’s an animatronic zombie in Season 3. Can you tell us anything about it?
A: The way that they work is the eyes and the jaw are operated via radio control and the neck mechanism is operated by a little handle that comes out of the bottom of the puppet so you can get side to side and up and down neck movements via puppeteering it below frame. So the beauty of that is that you can have it standing there amongst people in makeup and you’ll probably pan across it and say, “Wait a minute. How is that thing moving?”
Q: What new tricks have you come up with for the zombie makeups this year?
A: We’ve been able to do a lot more full-body prosthetics. One thing that I wanted to allow for in Season 3 was, you know, rotted chests and rotted backs. So we sculpted male and female rotted torsos that get glued directly to the performers. And one of the ideas we like playing up was that the walkers, because they are rotting and decomposed, is that they’re sort of putrefying — so if you come in contact with any of them and you slash at them, parts of them might sort of liquefy and come off.
Head over to AMC for the rest of the interview!