Keven Meets The Zombies of THE WALKING DEAD: Part 9
Published: October 19, 2010 - 12:53pm
EXCLUSIVE: Cody Rowlett used to be an enforcer of the infected when he had a role in The Crazies remake but this time around he's on the other side of that spectrum. He plays a zombie on the upcoming AMC network zombie apocalypse saga, The Walking Dead.
Keven: Can you talk about your scene or any specifics so BLAMMERS know where to watch out for you this Halloween?
Cody: I'm not really supposed to talk about it, but since it is in the extended trailer I think I can say that I am in the area that the main character Rick reaches in Episode 1 where he is carrying the gas can. My face actually flashes 3 or 4 times in the trailer around the 2:12 mark. It was a pretty cool scene where I got to go from being a 'sleeping' zombie to opening my yellow zombie eyes. I was also in one of the larger scenes where we (the zombies) chase Rick on his horse through the downtown Atlanta streets. It was surreal to stand in the middle of downtown and see complete devastation.
Tanks, shells of cars and buses, and debris everywhere. It seriously looked like a war-zone.
The set decorators were phenomenal at their job!
Keven: What was the makeup process like transforming you into the undead? Did you meet Greg Nicotero?
Cody: Well, I actually met Greg Nicotero before filming while in one of the many pre-production 'Zombie Training' classes. We were learning to walk, move and react like the 'undead' and Greg Nicotero and Frank Darabont observed so that they could choose some 'featured' zombies. Being tall and very thin, they pulled me aside and asked me how I felt about being in full makeup, possibly shirtless. I basically told them that they could do whatever they wanted to me! I mean.. come on! I was built for this! They were very thorough in making their decisions and very respectful. I remember going home that day thinking that this was going to be an amazing production.
The day that I arrived on set to be in full make-up for the first time they pulled around six of us to go to the make-up trailer where we lined up outside and I, being a gentleman, allowed some of the ladies to go first. I actually ended up being last in line. I got called in and I was told to choose a chair, so I chose the seat on the end. It just happened to be Greg Nicotero's station of all people! I sat facing away from the mirror and observed several others being transformed and airbrushed to the point where they were unrecognizable. Every time I looked in the mirror I had another wound or accentuated feature on my face. I glanced at Greg a few times while he was working on my face and neck and you can tell that he takes great pride in what he does. He was very cool, focused, friendly and respectful. Almost like a longtime friend that you only see a few times a year. He would take photos of us on set and show us how gruesome we looked, walk around with extra blood and grime to make sure that we were looking our absolute 'undead' best. The entire effects team was outstanding and meticulous even when being rushed.
Keven: I see you were also a HAZMAT soldier in another zombie-type flick The Crazies - Which scene are you in and did you get to do anything cool playing on the other side of the spectrum as someone who is not a raving undead lunatic?
Cody: I worked on few scary movies in a row last year. The Crazies was a larger "cattle call" type day where they filled an entire basketball gym with people. Large groups of people on set can be tough when working on a project. My spot in the movie was pretty quick and simple and I was expecting it to be way more glamorous that it actually was. (He laughs) I was in a few places actually. I am in the school hallway standing as they wheel the main actress 'Rahda Mitchell' down the hallway on a gurney. My big scene was where I was going to get to slam MTV writer Eric Ditzian's 'crazy/bloody' face into a glass door. It took for several takes and I felt bad, but most of the retakes were because he needed to spurt out more blood! I actually got more screen time on his 'behind the scenes' video blog located on the MTV site than I did in the movie. But it was a good time and I made some great friends that night.
Keven: You got the opportunity to work with Frank Darabont, what was that like?
Cody: I was very impressed with Frank Darabont and how he just made things happen. He was very kind and gave great direction. This set was much different than any other set that I worked on and you could tell that everyone was proud to be part of this production. That includes me.
Keven: Did you get to meet or chat with any of the other actors on the show or was it all business?
Cody: Well I try to respect actor's personal boundaries when we are on set. When actors aren't filming, they are usually going over lines in their head or trying to think about how they would like to do something. I only talk to an actor if they talk to me first or to discuss scene movement or start marks. These particular shooting days were pretty hot and muggy, so when we weren't on set, I was in search of a cold beverage or a cool place to relax. I spoke briefly to the main character Rick (Andrew Lincoln) after he commented on my make-up, but it was only brief small talk.
He is great at turning on and off his accent.
Keven: What was the hardest part acting like a zombie? What was the most fun?
Cody: Well, the hardest part for me it was dragging out my motions. I am 6ft 3in tall and at the time 145lbs I was very lanky and I have always been told to "loosen up". Let's just say that I have little to no swagger (laughs) so the stiff walking came naturally. It was the method of slowing down every movement and slowing my reaction time that gave me the most trouble. The most fun was just getting to stare blankly at nothing and act creepy! I enjoyed every second of being on set, even in the heat.
Keven: Were you aware of the Walking Dead comic? Robert Kirkman just won a SCREAM award for best ongoing series for The Walking Dead - it's a huge deal in the comic book world - are you a fan now?
Cody: I had heard of the comic, it's success and the rumors about a possible series. When I learned that it would be filming in Atlanta, I was ready to apply!
Since filming the 1st episode though I have been ill and underwent surgery to remove a tumor from my sinuses and have had to undergo chemo which has kept me at home most of the time.
I do intend to check out the comic though.
Keven: How are you doing now?
Cody: I am doing much better thanks! After surgery, I looked as if I had been kicked in the face by a horse for a while. It seriously looked like Greg Nicotero had done some special effects on my nose and eyes. The bruises and swelling in my face has gone down and as of Thursday of last week (10/14) I am no longer on chemo. The next few months will be about getting better, writing/recording new music for myself and seeing some of the films that I worked on in the theaters and on TV! I can't wait for Halloween night! My friends and family are very excited to see the show.
Keven: What was the experience like working as a zombie on The Walking Dead and what's the one thing that sticks out in your mind that you'll always remember from your time on the show?
Cody: It was the most fun and by far my favorite project to date and I hope to be able to work on it again in the future. Watching a large group of people transform into the undead in front of you is something you will never forget. Working on my scene and my closeup that I can't discuss is by far the most vivid memory. Sitting in the chair while Greg Nicotero turned me into a zombie is definitely up there.
Keven: I see you are a musician - what kind of music do you create and where can BLAMMERS check it out?
Cody: Oh you saw that, huh? (laughs) I guess you googled me! My music career goes back to 1998 when I was in a very dysfunctional band. It led me to meet some people in the right places and I started song writing for several BMI Latin artists. A few that actually charted. I had a song 'After You Fall' that came out in 2006, but shortly after that I began singing on cruise ships until November of 2008. That's when I took the turn to film. After my surgery, I actually started the process of creating a new solo project with my label. Music has always been my passion and getting ill this last time really opened my eyes to what I HAVEN'T done in my life. One of those things is completing my full solo album. My label SouthEast Records has been very patient with me and they are ready for me to make a comeback. So am I. I have a Myspace and Facebook music page and also a twitter profile. You can get to them all through my website http://www.codymusic.com. My facebook page is rather new because of the new project, so it would be great to gain new fans.
Keven: What can we expect from Cody Rowlett in the future - any other upcoming projects you want to share?
Cody: Well, other than my music project that comes out next year, I am excited to see Due Date with Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis. My 'Precision Driver' friends and I worked on it last fall. Most of the movie takes place on the open road surrounded by the same 20 cars which is myself and some of my friends. I am hoping to work more as a 'Precision Driver' and 'photo double', but I am REALLY hoping to get to be able to be a zombie again for The Walking Dead in future episodes.