“The Walking Dead” will launch the second part of its eleventh and final season on February 21 on OCS. But before the series bows out, how about (re)discovering some anecdotes about the adaptation of the zombie comic-book?
The Walking Dead has been surviving the apocalypse for more than a decade, never hesitating to bring the worst face of humans who survived the zombie infection to the screen, all under the scrutiny of discerning fans.
Throughout its eleven seasons and twelve years of service, the fiction represented a colossal work for all the people involved in its realization, which sometimes reveal interesting anecdotes on the course of the shooting. Let’s go behind the scenes of the longest-running and best-known zombie series on the small screen…
Zombies went to school
If the production of The Walking Dead offers four different categories of make-up for a ranger depending on the type of shooting he will do, each must however respect the same requirement: to have followed a training for zombies. Specially created for the series, this training teaches them to move in costume and above all in a credible way to maintain the authenticity of the show. The class has between 20 and 30 students who, after training, must pass – and pass – an audition to appear in the series. Interested persons are then invited to stagger along, as if they had just drunkenly walked out of a bar, to “be mad at the camera”, or to simply let their inner zombie out freely. Once selected, zombie graduates can then submit their measurements to the costume department.
Prowlers don’t blink
Like all human beings, the actors who give life to the famous prowlers of The Walking Dead blink involuntarily about 20 times per minute. However, on screen we never see them doing this because this involuntary body movement is digitally removed from the footage! Another curious anecdote about these walkers: even behind the scenes, they are not allowed to approach the survivors, so that a real distance is maintained between the living and the infected.
Ranger makeup takes time
About two hours of makeup is what every walker of The Walking Dead must endure for a perfect decomposition look before they can shoot a scene. Exhausting work for both the actor and the team of experts in blood, wounds and guts. What’s worse is that the scenario often calls for large groups of rangers, multiplying the work tenfold. The luckiest are the extras who appear in very wide shots, and who thus spend less time in the make-up department.
The price of each episode
Each episode of The Walking Dead costs about two million dollars. Eleven seasons, 177 episodes when the series ends… we’ll let you do the math! However, when filming began for the series in 2010, the production was spending more than three million per episode, a high figure for the universe of American cable series. Aside from special effects and zombie makeup, talent salaries make up the biggest chunk of budget spending: While Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) was initially paid $92,000 per episode, his salary jumped to around $650,000 per chapter. on his last season in 2018.
The police had to intervene
During the filming of the first season, actor Michael Rooker, interpreter of Merle Dixon, shot a scene where he was holding a gun on top of a building. A passer-by who did not know that this was part of a scene of The Walking Dead then called a SWAT unit to handle the situation… On another occasion, actress Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, was arrested on her way home because she was driving covered in fake blood!