By Charly SHELTON
They’re coming. The Walkers. And here’s how.
Over the last several weeks, CV Weekly has reported on the new year-round “The Walking Dead” attraction opening at Universal Studios Hollywood on July 4. First it was just the concept, then the location, then auditions for actors, and now, the actors become Walkers. The iconic zombies from the TV show on AMC has set the gold standard for what a zombie should be, and it’s much more difficult to perfect than one might imagine.
“You tell somebody to be a zombie, and they all do the same thing – drop one arm, drop one leg and shamble,” said Greg Nicotero, executive producer, director and head visual and makeup effects for the TV show. “I think body posture is one of the first things, in terms of raising and lowering your shoulders, and just really adding to this character. We don’t want every walker to appear to look the same, so breaking it up a little bit is always good. I always like the analogy of a marionette, that you’re not always in control.”
Nicotero and lead attraction designer John Murdy held a “walker boot camp” to whip these living actors into shape with the specific direction on how to be a Walker for the new attraction.
Nicotero’s best zombie, Joe Giles, was also on set for the boot camp to show exactly how it is done. Giles works at KNB Efx, Nicotero’s effects company, and when TWD show started back in 2010, Giles was patient zero for makeup and prosthetics tests. Director and showrunner Frank Darabont liked Giles’ unique zombie movement so much that it was used as the standard for the show’s Walkers.
Not only will the Walkers be authentic to the world of TWD, but the sets and props will be current with the storyline that guests watch on the show. Murdy’s team designed the attraction with updates in mind.
“When guests go to it on July 4th when it opens, we want it to feel like it’s picking up right where the show left off, and I think it does,” Murdy said. “And as designers, we have a dividing line that we’ve always had in our heads. In the future, wherever the show goes, if we want to make changes we know where that line is of what can change and what won’t.”
Both Murdy and Nicotero are very excited to be a part of this new attraction because it brings their favorite things to life all year, instead of just for two months.
“The only depressing part about Halloween Horror Nights is that it’s only, and John will kill me if I say this, from September to the beginning of November. These guys kill themselves every year to do it,” Nicotero said. “Now you get a chance to do it all year round and it’s a different experience; it’s much more immersive. With this, we want people to study the sets and the art direction and the Walkers. We want them to feel like they’ve stepped into the show.”
“The Walking Dead” attraction opens at Universal Studios Hollywood on July 4.