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The Walking Dead Zombie Extras Have Tiered Makeup Processes Behind The Scenes

While humans are the true villains on "The Walking Dead," bringing the story to life nonetheless requires the appearance of walkers — sometimes in large numbers. That's where extras, also known as background actors, come in handy. And one of those lucky enough to take on the rigorous process took to Reddit to pull back the curtain on what it's like to play the role, sharing a screenshot from Season 1 showing them in action.

Redditor u/Ozymandias-X asked how long it took for makeup and what it's like for those playing walkers further in the background of a scene. It turns out, the extras are split into four groups, described as waves, and their designation corresponds to how close they are to the camera. "The people closest to the camera, or 'A' group, took about an hour to two hours of makeup time. It took about a half hour to remove because of the facial prosthetics," u/captainlocke replied. "'B' group took a half hour to an hour, and C and D group took 10-15 mins. They were so far away from the camera, no one really cared."

Being a walker is an intense experience

Being an extra on "The Walking Dead" might seem like a dream job for fans, but it's actually a lot of work for those actors. William Sibley Hart, who has played several walkers on the series, spoke about the experience during an interview with HelloHorror; while Hart acknowledged it was a dream job, he also delved into the not-so-glamorous moments. "We come home bruised, scraped, sore, and are at the mercy of Georgia weather for outdoor scenes," he said. Fans of the series might recognize (or not) Hart as the walker who bites Hershel (Scott Wilson). The memorable moment came with difficulties for the actor. "I was sitting on the floor of the prison, contacts in, unable to see for about 6 hours of shooting," Hart told the outlet. Still, he found a way through the filming by using meditation and keeping his eyes closed.

Anyone who takes on the job also has to go through what is known as "Zombie School." Special effects legend Greg Nicotero knows what he wants from each walker, and these sessions give him time to audition up to 200 extras at once. What does he look for in each one? "We tend to go with thinner people who have a specific kind of bone structure, so when we put prosthetic [sic] on them, because makeup is an additive process, it doesn't look like we're building out their face too much," he told CNN. If a background actor passes the test, they also need to prove they can bring realism to the role through their performance.