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The Truth About The Johnny Depp Cameo In The Walking Dead

With over a decade's worth of episodes under its belt, AMC's The Walking Dead is truly a program like no other. With the series having aired on the network for so long, the innumerable people that contribute to every season have grown rather close in that time, thus creating a behind-the-scenes camaraderie that most series can't replicate. From never-ending prank wars to heart-wrenching departures, the backstage culture of The Walking Dead carries similar emotional weight as being a part of a true family — and, in that same vein, everyone dedicating their time to the show likes to have some fun wherever they can.

This is especially obvious when looking at the props department, led by special effects makeup guru Greg Nicotero (who also directs and co-executive-produces the series). Back in March 2016, in the midst of the series' sixth season, the episode titled "Not Tomorrow Yet" entailed future movie star Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) going severed-head-hunting as a part of an elaborate plan to infiltrate Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) compound. This meant Nicotero and his team had to whip up a few artificial noggins to use on the show. One fake head very closely resembled the former Gellert Grindelwald himself, Johnny Depp – making for, arguably, the program's most unorthodox celebrity cameo to date.

This moment surprised a lot of fans, since such a huge name hadn't appeared in any way on TWD before, leaving more questions than answers. Thankfully, Nicotero recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly and shed some light onto how the Sleepy Hollow star's likeness made it onto televisions everywhere.

The prop became a must-have for a Walking Dead mainstay

Chatting with the outlet, Nicotero finally confirmed that the severed head's likeness to Depp wasn't merely a coincidence: "One of the other heads, I don't know if I'm going to get in trouble if I say this, was Johnny Depp." 

He then explained what went into the production of the prop, saying, "I think we had sculpted an emaciated version of a dummy head for something, and we used Johnny Depp's head as a basis just for a clay sculpt." Given one of the other craniums used his own likeness, Nicotero jokingly added that "he" was in "good company" alongside the big-screen legend.

Nicotero also mentioned that the actor behind Daryl Dixon, Norman Reedus — a man known for his extensive collection of Walking Dead props — quickly vocalized his desire to snag some new additions to his ever-growing archive. "Norman kept saying he wanted the heads when we were done shooting. I said we've got to wait until the picture is logged," Nicotero said. As fate would have it, the Boondock Saints star eventually got his hands on the disembodied domes — forever immortalizing Johnny Depp's bizarre Walking Dead cameo in his own personal museum.