Rick Grimes and his gang have been hacking and slashing the hordes of the undead since 2010 , but still the walkers continue to cause trouble. It's been a grueling struggle for them, but it does mean that The Walking Dead has been entertaining us for seven whole seasons, with an eighth on the way this October.
Some of Rick’s gang, including his son Carl and the fan favorite Daryl, have been with us for all this time, and so it’s no surprise that they seem to have built up a solid on-set camaraderie. Other cast members have dipped in and out, with characters often being killed off suddenly, but that hasn’t stopped their behind the scenes antics from looking like a lot more fun than an actual zombie apocalypse.
On a show like this, too, a whole load of effects are needed, particularly when it comes to the gory sequences, and so it’s fascinating to get a look at just how all of it is put together. With that in mind, here are fifteen photos that show how life on location for The Walking Dead is both a ton of hard work and a whole lot of fun.
15 Stuntman's Tiger Pounce
While Season 7 of The Walking Dead was an uneven bunch of episodes, with the pacing sometimes tryingly slow, the finale episode “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” really ramped up the excitement.
One particular highlight of this was the moment when we finally got to see Shiva, the tiger belonging to King Ezekiel, in action. She’d not done much more than sit by his side previously, but in the entertainingly insane battle against the Saviors, she pounced on a poor chap and proceeded to rip his face off.
This photo showing how the scene was shot, however, isn’t quite as gruesome as the finished product. There was no tiger on set – for obvious safety reasons – but a stuntman in a blue unitard bouncing off a trampoline, later to be replaced with CGI. Not as scary, but somehow just as entertaining to look at.
14 Negan Hangs With Walker Sasha
Another highlight of the Season 7 finale was the moment when Negan was ready to reveal to the citizens of Alexandria that he had Sasha captive, only to find that Sasha was, appropriately, given she was being kept in a coffin, very dead – undead, in fact.
This shocking moment came at the culmination of a torturous storyline for Sasha, who’d set herself the task of killing Negan, after he'd murdered several of her friends and securely earned his place as one of the nastiest villains on TV. It’s fair to say that the two characters really didn’t get on.
Which makes it all the more pleasing to see this photo from the set of that very scene, with actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Sonequa Martin-Green looking much more upbeat and relaxed around each other.
13 Walkers Need To Stay Dry Too
The Walking Dead’s eponymous animated corpses have been tormenting Rick and his allies since 2010, and have been impaled, skewered, shot, and decapitated on screen, among a whole range of other gory deaths.
But it’s important to remember that walkers are people, too – in real life, at least. Hordes of supporting artists have appeared in the series as the undead, and three of them can be seen here keeping themselves dry between takes.
The umbrellas probably serve an important purpose of keeping the rotting flesh makeup intact – it may look messy, but it’s very precisely applied! Plus, our walkers are modeling the latest fashions in undead chic – bloodstained light brown is this season’s color – and it would be a shame to get it wet!
12 The Saviors And Their Captive
This may look like a grunge rock album cover, but it’s in fact a candid shot of three of Season 7’s stars – Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Norman Reedus, and Austin Amelio – hanging out on set together.
Sasha wasn’t the only person to suffer in Negan’s prison cell this season, you see, as Reedus’ fan favorite biker Daryl spent a good half of the season in Savior captivity. During this time, he refused to submit to Negan and struck up a rivalry with Amelio’s Dwight.
Again, it’s nice, if a little disconcerting, to see the actors who play such violently opposing characters getting on well as they hang out on set. Though we would still love to hear that album, even if all the songs were covers of "Easy Street".
11 Robert Kirkman Meets David Morrissey
The Walking Dead has become a massive TV hit in and of itself, but let’s not forget that it’s based on a series of comic books, which have been running since 2003 and were created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore.
There’d be no Walking Dead without Kirkman, who gave permission for AMC to adapt his comics to TV, and has been an executive producer on the show since the beginning of its run. He’s also written several scripts for the series.
As a busy writer, he can’t make it to the set all the time, but here he is saying hello to David Morrissey and Alanna Masterson, who play the Governor and Tara, during filming of Season 4. They’re no doubt thanking him for creating the show that’s given them such fun jobs -- and seeing if he knows how long it'll be until they get killed off.
10 Glenn’s Smashed Head
That cliffhanger at the end of Season 6 split opinions, but it got everyone talking – just who’s head had Negan bashed in? One of the main contenders was Glenn Rhee, who takes Negan's bat Lucille to the head in the comics.
When Season 7 finally began, we found out that Abraham was in fact first to take a horrific pounding, but poor Glenn nonetheless met his fate later in the episode. The effect as we saw his head being smashed in by the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire was one of the show’s most horrifyingly bloody moments yet.
And seeing how the effect was done only worsens the nightmares. Here’s actor Steven Yeun with a hell of a lot of blood and gore makeup, as well as having his eye held wide open, alongside a model of Glenn’s smashed-in head. We really don’t know how Yeun can keep on grinning.
9 Walkers Send A Message
Here’s another one from Norman Reedus’ Instagram account, which seems to be a goldmine for sneak peeks into everyday life on the Walking Dead set, where you’re never far from yet another horde of the undead.
Daryl Dixon would usually be in full combat mode if faced by a large group of walkers, getting quickly out of their way but not before firing off a volley of crossbow bolts into a few of their decaying faces.
Reedus, however, is able to chill while around the supporting artists who play the walkers, though they all seem to be united around a certain hand gesture here – well, you would want to tell the post-apocalyptic world to f*** off after living in it for so many years, wouldn’t you?
8 Alanna Masterson Being Goofy With A Walker
Unlike Reedus, Alanna Masterson doesn’t look quite so chill around this walker. Maybe it’s because the effects here are particularly nasty – even Greg Nicotero, the makeup expert who designed all the walker effects, looks freaked out by the sight of his own work coming to life.
Since Season 4, Masterson has played the role of Tara, who was originally a member of the Governor’s crew before she found her place alongside Rick and his comrades; she’s now one of the more popular citizens of Alexandria and is also notable for being the series’ first LGBT character.
Masterson has brought a distinct charm and humor to the role, which is also on display in her behind the scenes appearances, such as goofing around with this bloodstained, rotting guy.
7 Merle’s Undead Makeup
Merle Dixon, the violent and abrasive brother of Daryl, made recurring appearances across the first two seasons before becoming a regular in Season 3, which saw him act as a lieutenant to the authoritarian Governor of Woodbury.
This didn’t last, however, and by the end of the season, Merle had fallen out with the Governor so badly that the eye-patched villain shot and killed him. But in the world of The Walking Dead, death is not final, and we had one final memorable scene in which Daryl was faced with the reanimated body of the brother he had such a volatile history with.
Merle’s undead look needed to be perfect to hammer home the impact on Daryl of seeing his brother in this state, and as usual, The Walking Dead’s effects team didn’t let us down. Here’s Michael Rooker with some touches being made to his facial makeup, as well as a prop version of his upper body, presumably used for the shots in which Daryl stabs him repeatedly.
6 Carl And Double
“Carrrrlll! No... you’re Carrrrlll!”
Rick Grimes’ young son has been by his side since the very beginning of the show, and has come of age in the world of the zombie apocalypse. In fact, actor Chandler Riggs was just eleven when the series began.
But working on a TV shoot is tiring work, especially for such a young actor, and so the use of a body double is often needed, whether for certain stunts or just for shots where the actor’s face is not visible.
Here’s Chandler Riggs hanging out with his double during shooting of the oft-remixed scene in which Carl eats chocolate pudding while sitting on a roof. We’re not sure why exactly the double was needed for this scene – perhaps Riggs couldn’t manage all the pudding by himself.
5 Bob Stookey’s Leg
Former army medic Bob Stookey, played by Lawrence Gilliard Jr., joined the cast in Season 4, but he didn’t last long. Shortly into Season 5, he was bitten by a walker, then captured by cannibals from Terminus, who amputated and ate his leg. Not his best day, then, but at least he got the satisfaction of revealing to the cannibals that they’d eaten walker-tainted meat.
He did so while laughing hysterically, which is a good way to deal with all the horrors of the post-apocalypse. It’s a similar cheery attitude which Gilliard and Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene, seem to be taking to his injury in this snap. A shame Sonequa Martin-Green isn’t quite as upbeat.
We can also see how the amputated leg effect is done – with Gilliard’s actual leg wrapped in a bright blue fabric which can be removed in post, and a prosthetic leg stub attached at his knee.
4 Heart Shaped Bucket Of Blood
If you’re squeamish about the red stuff, or anal about keeping your clothes spotlessly clean, then you wouldn’t last long in the world of The Walking Dead. You have to wonder where Rick and co. keeping getting shirts from, as rarely an episode goes by without them getting covered in blood and guts.
The production of The Walking Dead must go through fake blood faster than the Mad Men shoot went through whiskey, and so the makeup and costume teams have become very adept at applying it to the cast for maximum effect.
They’ve also come up with ways to cope with the horror of it all – at least, we assume that’s the reasoning behind the bright pink heart-shaped bucket from which this crew member is applying Steven Yeun with fresh blood.
3 Green Screen Action Scene
The Walking Dead is mostly shot on location around Georgia, and its post-apocalyptic world has a very specific look to it, with lots of gray and dilapidated concrete buildings, as well as lots of grimly brown and green woodland.
Most of this can be shot on location, and you would be forgiven for assuming that’s always the case, as it does seem that Georgia has a lot of concrete buildings and woodland. However, from time to time, a more specific look is needed for a scene.
That was the case with this sequence from Season 4, in which a group of our heroes carried out a raid. They can be seen shooting the action against a greenscreen, which was replaced in post-production with a suitably apocalyptic landscape.
2 Rick and Darryl’s Bromance
The last one from Reedus’ Instagram, we promise. There are just so many gems on there.
Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon are without much doubt the two biggest stars of The Walking Dead, having been key members of the gang of survivors since the first few episodes. In that time, they’ve come out of many close scrapes fighting, and somehow avoided adding themselves to the show’s serious body count.
The series has done a lot of good for Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, catapulting them both to stardom. Lincoln’s gone a long way since being that adorable guy admitting his affection for Keira Knightley through giant flash cards. It’s great, then, to see the two of them having fun together on set – even with faces covered in blood, there’s still time for a bit of bromance.
1 Nicotero With Walker Prop
The Walking Dead wouldn’t be anything without its walking dead, and so it’s only right that we use the last item in this list to express our thanks to Greg Nicotero, the man behind the gruesome look of the series’ walkers.
Nicotero, who developed an interest in special effects after watching Jaws, got his first major job on Dawn of the Dead, the iconic zombie film directed by the legendary George A. Romero. He soon built up a seriously impressive CV, including Evil Dead II, From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, and much more.
It was a great coup, then, when The Walking Dead secured Nicotero as its special makeup effects supervisor. He’s also directed several episodes and even appeared as a walker himself. Here he is getting stuck into his work and hauling around a prop corpse.
Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes snap from this bloodiest of shows? Let us know in the comments!
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