Greg Nicotero Explains Inspiration For Burnt Walkers, Talks Hershel’s Decapitated Head
Credit: Gene Page/AMC    

The Walking Dead

Greg Nicotero Explains Inspiration For Burnt Walkers, Talks Hershel’s Decapitated Head

It seems that each week we’re getting a new interview from someone currently on The Walking Dead Season 5 set. We’ve already heard from the show’s co-producers, Gale Anne Hurd and Denise Hurth, and now special effects guru/sometimes director Greg Nicotero is answering a few questions.

We’ve already told you about the “whole new look” we can expect for the walkers in Season 5, but let’s go hear what’s inspired Greg in the past including those gnarly burnt walkers we saw in Season 4, Episode 14: “The Grove.”

”That came from an idea that I had in Season 3. During the episode ‘Clear,’ where Michonne and Carl go to the restaurant to retrieve the picture of [Lori], I had pitched an idea that there was a fire in the back of that restaurant and that these burned walkers emerge from the back to attack Carl and Michonne,” Greg explains. “We got a little hint of it, but not enough to really sell that, so we had this burned makeup design and we then in turn saw them in Episode 14 last season. They were created with full body prosthetics to stimulate that burned, crispy look. I always reference cooking a hot dog on a grill for two hours. It was fun and I was really proud that we got them featured so prominently during a great episode.”

Another highlight for Greg and the special effects department was Hershel Greene’s (Scott Wilson) death (sorry, Scott!). The death itself was gut-wrenching, but seeing Hershel’s decapitated head, which looked so real, is something that will long stay in TWD fans’ minds.

To create the walker head, Greg says they took a cast of Scott’s own head to create an animatronic with jaw movements. “We sculpted the skin then molded it and created a foam latex head with a fiberglass under-structure that was cable-operated for the jaw,” he adds.

There was one other thing Greg did to make sure the head looked even more realistic. “One little augmentation I wanted to do was digital eyes. The one thing that always gives away an animatronic head are the eyes because the eyes are always challenging to replicate in terms of movements and blinking,” he says.”The fact that we had a couple of real flies flying around the head was a complete bonus.” Yeah, a gross one!

Were you impressed by the burnt walkers? Are you surprised by all the work that went into creating Hershel’s decapitated head? Sound off below!

The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.


06.5.2014 / 12:00 AM EDT by Samantha Leffler
Related: The Walking Dead, News, TV

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