Originally Chris D’Elia was to play the helicopter pilot in Army of the Dead. But a sexual harassment scandal later had to be kicked out of the movie which had already been shot. This is how Zack Snyder called on Tig Notaro.
Before becoming the best character in Army of the Dead, Tig Notaro was absolutely not to participate in the film. The actress and comedian – known for her wonderful series One Mississippi and her starring in Star Trek: Discovery – was called to the rescue by Zack Snyder and his wife Deborah, producer of the film.
Why ? To replace Chris D’Elia, accused on several occasions of sexual harassment of minors. Accusations that surfaced in June 2020. Except that the latter has already shot all of his scenes and the film is in the post-production phase when Zack and Deborah Snyder decide to remove it from the feature film.
This is not the first time that an actor has been entirely digitally removed from a film to be replaced by another. Ridley Scott has already resorted to the same method in 2017 with All the Money in the World when he fears seeing his film splashed by the scandal affecting Kevin Spacey at the time. He then decides to replace him with Christopher Plummer.
As a result, it cost millions of dollars to erase Chris D’Elia from the movie and add Tig Notaro in his place. The husband-wife duo explains that it was a relatively simple decision to make, but expensive. Without revealing the exact amount of this last-minute extra, Zack Snyder admitted that it cost a few million.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zack Snyder was unable to shoot the scenes in which Tig Notaro participates with the rest of the cast. It is therefore for this reason that Notaro was inserted in the film by a combination of scenes shot in front of a double, as well as by the use of digital composition.
An unusual shoot
Thus, adding Tig Notaro after the fact meant that the actress had to play alone in front of a green screen, and without her partners to give her the answer. During the whole time she was shooting her scenes, almost alone, a single thought kept circling in her head: “How the hell telling jokes got me to this moment?”
Once Chris D’Elia was completely erased from the first draft of the film, Tig Notaro was able to step on stage… in an empty studio with a green background. Zack Snyder took exactly the same camera axes, controlling the first version on a monitor placed next to him.
As partners, tennis balls were suspended and thus served as an indication to the actress so that her gaze was placed in the right place. With the exception of a half-day filming with Ana de la Reguera, the scenes in which Notaro physically touches another character had to be filmed with an assistant in a green suit.
The next step is to integrate Tig Notaro. For this, the director must choose not only his best takes, but also those that synchronize perfectly with the dialogue and the action. And when that didn’t work, the team then resorted to Plan B: a full body scan of Notaro to create a digital version of her that they could insert into scenes, mostly for back shots. -plan.
Interviews with Zack Snyder, Dave Bautista and Nora Arnezeder
The other challenge is that just about everything differentiates her from Chris D’Elia. She is noticeably smaller, but above all, her humor taps on the side of irony and intimacy where that of D’Elia, more explosive, leans for the vulgar.
So far, Tig Notaro has only played variations of herself. Interpreting Marianne Peters, helicopter pilot for a heist with zombies, is quite far from her person. The most “complicated” she had to shoot was summed up in a few scenes where you had to fall on a mattress in Star Trek: Discovery. But ultimately, this character fits him like a glove, as this excerpt illustrates: