Vegetarians need not apply for a role on The Walking Dead — as a featured actor or a zombie extra.
Walkers feed off flesh, but the folks at AMC don’t have their own Terminus train cars filled with people to chop up and use for filming purposes. So what are the zombie actors actually eating when we see them on screen? Giant hams! CineFix explained the process in its 7 Walking Dead Things You (probably) Didn't Know! feature, which aired just before the Season 4 finale.
"Props master John Sanders soaks the hams then dresses them up to look like bloody oozing body parts,” CineFix says, in the video below. “In earlier seasons they’d cover them in barbecue sauce to make them taste better for all the extras, but the vinegar in the sauce would basically melt the zombie makeup, and they had to tweak the recipe."
Hopefully it’s cooked ham, which is more than Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) got for his Season 4 finale scene, taking a bite out of Joe’s (Jeff Kober) neck. Andy talked to The Hollywood Reporter about filming that particular Episode 16 scene.
“It was brutal,” Andy said. “It was 4:30 in the morning. We did 95 setups or so of that scene alone leading up to the bite. I remember [special effects guru] Greg Nicotero looking at me earlier in the day and saying, ‘We're doing the gag. Do you want chicken or beef?’ I asked for the chicken, and Greg asked if I wanted it cooked or raw. I asked which was the closest to flesh. He said uncooked, and that is what we went with. It was a rite of passage. It was the gnarliest thing I've ever had to do. I didn't realize how my body would feel with raw chicken flesh in my mouth among all the other blood gags in the scene. There was one take where I felt close to a wretch.”
Nice. It’s all in a day’s work, and at least he only had to do it for one day. Would you eat some raw chicken (or ham), if that’s what it took to be on The Walking Dead?
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.
Sources: Kotaku, CineFix on YouTube