How to Be on ‘The Walking Dead’: Join the Zombie Cast!
Ever wonder how to be on ‘The Walking Dead‘? The hit AMC series has everything: zombies, drama, the apocalypse, action, betrayal, suspense, and did we mention zombies? It’s those first and last parts that gave this show such an obsessive fanbase because — different from the shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ filmed overseas and shows like ‘Breaking Bad’ with a minimal cast — more zombies means more opportunities to become an extra!
Admit it! Some Sunday nights you sit on your couch watching the latest episode and think about how to be on ‘The Walking Dead’! Well, here’s good news for you — it’s possible! Hundreds of fans have done it before and countless others will follow suit, assuming ‘The Walking Dead’ gets renewed for a fourth season… which how could it not?
So if you want to put your dreams into action, here are some tips on how to be on ‘The Walking Dead.’
'The Walking Dead' Casting Calls
If you're wondering how to be on 'The Walking Dead' and you by chance reside in or around the Georgia area, you're in luck! 'The Walking Dead' films primarily out of Georgia in locations like Atlanta, Fairburn, Haralson and Senoia, to name a few, and consistently works with the Atlanta Extras Casting Company to score willing bodies that want to get the zombie treatment.
Casting calls have been known to go out through the official Atlanta Extras Casting Company Facebook page, in addition to sporadic Craigslist ads posted to the Georgia-based sections. And if you're incredibly proactive to become a 'Walking Dead' extra, you should register on the official Atlanta Extras Casting Company website.
'The Walking Dead' "Zombie School"
If you're wondering how to be on 'The Walking Dead' as one of the hundreds of zombie extras, then you should know the process is a bit more than just elaborate makeup and getting down your zombie walk. In fact, Greg Nicotera, 'The Walking Dead' special makeup effects artist, has revealed that there are specific qualities that can make a person a great Walker on the show.
Auditions occur at the beginning of each season, where upwards of 150 to 200 extras are auditioned for the chance to appear in zombie costume and makeup.
"We have what we call 'Zombie School,'" said Nicotera in an interview with CNN. "I grade them on two criteria: Look and performance... We tend to go with thinner people who have a specific kind of bone structure, so when we put prosthetic on them, because makeup is an additive process, it doesn't look like we're building out their face too much. The second part of it is performance. The actor has to bring it to life. It's very important that our Walkers are genuine and authentic." The obvious exception is the Walker stuck down the well at Hershel's farm.
The Ideal 'Walking Dead' Extra
As previously stated, if you want to know how to be on 'The Walking Dead,' you should know that it can't hurt to look the part. We can't speak for the casting agencies and the show's representatives, but there are certain qualities that make an ideal Walker.
"We look for certain attributes that we feel make good Walkers, like big eyes and good bone structure and a long neck," Nicotera has previously revealed to EW. "The whole point, the whole look that was established in the graphic novel was that these things are emaciated and starving and very thin and gaunt looking so we try to stick to that visual aesthetic and I think that’s been tremendously successful for us." This is not to say that you should starve yourself to look the part, people!
What You Can Expect
Let's say you've figured out how to be on 'The Walking Dead' -- meaning you've made it through "Zombie School," you've received a phone call to appear as a Walker on the show and you're heading to the makeup trailer to get all done up -- what are some things you should know in advance?
If you're allergic to latex or are adverse to wearing dentures, prosthetics, bald caps, fake beards, fake blood, etc., you probably shouldn't become a zombie extra on 'The Walking Dead.' The show received an Emmy for all the makeup work, which should tell you a lot of time and material goes into the making of each zombie. Also, if you're unwilling to stand around in full zombie makeup for hours on end and reshoot scenes multiple times for limited pay, this gig is not for you. Die-hard fans need only apply!
Success Stories of 'The Walking Dead' Extras
In case you didn't realize, 'The Walking Dead' extras aren't made up entirely of aspiring actors. There are a ton of die-hard fans featured in various episodes who took the gigs to live out one of their life dreams. That said, some answers to how to be on 'The Walking Dead' come from those fans who've already been through the process and came out on the other side as even more dedicated viewers.
Remember that Swamp Walker from 'The Walking Dead' season 2? Kevin Galbraith is the man underneath that zombie, but he's also portrayed a number of other Walkers throughout the seasons. "The only other film & TV work I had before this was in 2002, as a background extra in the atrocious 'Dumb & DumberER' prequel that hopefully not many people will remember," he told Daily Dead. "I lived in downtown Atlanta in 2010 and a friend of mine showed me one of the first open calls that were made on an extras casting Facebook page. I was cast in background scenes for season 1, episode 2 'Guts' about a month later."
You can follow Galbraith on Facebook. Unlike Galbraith, however, Michael Saba was one guy with no acting experience under his belt, but his obsession with everything "zombie" proved to be a benefit when he was cast as a 'Walking Dead' extra, which came about by filling out an online casting call. He described his experience to the CNN Geek Out blog: "In a series of takes, we chased two of the main characters down the hallway as they clutched satchels of needed medical supplies. They hightailed it towards the exit, and we shambled after them, always just a few steps out of reach of our yellowed and grasping fingers. Rinse and repeat for a few hours, until we finished and were deposited on a sidewalk outside in the cool summer night, waiting for the next scene to start rolling."
In summation, everyone from seasoned actors to the 'Walking Dead' obsessed can make it as an extra. You just have to (corny line in 3, 2, 1...) go for it!