'The Walking Dead' Props: Exclusive EW Photos
RICK GRIMES’ WATCH
Series prop master John Sanders recalls a moment during season 2 of The Walking Dead in which the camera closes in on the face of Rick Grimes' metal watch to mark the slog of time during the zombie apocalypse. But this seemingly minor close-up would have serious repercussions for Dead heads: "Suddenly all the fans who dress up as Rick for cosplay bought every single one of this Kenneth Cole timepiece off the internet — and the demand jacked up the price," says Sanders. "I have one model of the watch that Andrew Lincoln has worn for the whole show, but I only have four bands and they break a lot. I have a searcher on eBay, but I'm never going to get another one." Sanders notes that the writers wrote the prop out of the show once—"we actually had a funeral for it with a tombstone and some flowers"—but like a lot of TWD's characters, it ended up reappearing.
"During filming, there was one frame where a fly landed on the forehead, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if the eyes reacted?'" says Greg Nicotero, EP and the man behind the makeup. "We put contact lenses on one of my makeup artists and digitally composited real eyes onto this animatronic head. Eyes are probably the hardest part to duplicate, because there is an inherent life behind them — that's always the challenge. I gave Scott Wilson [who played Hershel] a replica of his head as a parting gift."
Costume designer Eulyn C. Womble says, "They wanted something on Daryl, who would be riding a motorbike. I thought he might wear the same vest that his brother Merle wears. I sketched the wings with pen and quickly sewed them onto the vest, imagining it was a drawing Daryl might make."
RICK'S GUN AND HOLSTER
"This is an original Colt Python .357 Magnum that we've had for the entire show," says prop master John Sanders. "Andrew Lincoln has only ever held that one gun. He checks the serial number every day and pulls the trigger six times to make sure the rounds are dummy. He loves it. It's part of his character."
THE TEDDY BEAR
Sanders says this stuffed animal from the first episode "is one of the most iconic pieces of the show — it's one of the only ones that's been manipulated by a walker. When I watched the little girl walker pick up the bear, I realized the lives of these characters would involve dead children."
"I believed that Hershel's daughter Beth might do these little things for her dad, like sew on that red button," Womble says. "I always wanted him to look like he was a farmer or a badass preacher from old Westerns — a cowboy with a conscience. It was sad to pack it up."
"We needed a live possum and a dead one for a scene where Daryl kills the animal with his crossbow," Sanders says. "We only use existing taxidermies and never kill anything for the show. Now people bring dead animals to our taxidermist, who stores them in a giant freezer."
"I always look at the piece and imagine the person who wore it, how they died, and for how long they've been dead," says Womble. "Zombies are not very elegant. And the way they eat is not polite. You can tell it's a walker by the blood running down the middle."
“During the second season we showed the face of this discontinued watch from Kenneth Cole, and immediately every fan who dresses as Rick for cosplay bought them all off the Internet,” recalls Sanders. "Andrew Lincoln wears this watch every day and it breaks a lot and I’m never gonna get another one.”
"I designed a katana and sent it to Robert Kirkman for notes," says Sanders. "He wanted something like a biohazard symbol on it. I found a triple goddess symbol, which looks almost identical but backwards and without the circle. Kirkman couldn't believe we found what he wanted."
"These dummy rounds are made for us," Sanders says. "They have BBs in them, so you can shake them to indicate they aren't live. You want bullets to look real, and typical blanks don't. Every actor gets weapons training — we train some to be clumsy with a gun, to be in character."
ZOMBIE MAKEUP PALETTE
“This is one of our tattoo colors that we use when we’re adding dirt and blood and wounds to zombies. There is a very distinct difference between vibrant oxygenated human blood and dead brown, rust-colored dried zombie blood,” notes Nicotero, who had been a pre-Med student in college.
“These heads were in The Governor’s fish tank,” says Nicotero (who had these prizes flown in from Los Angeles for the EW shoot). “They are made out of silicone and by layering different colors of paint onto them, we’re able to get that translucency to the skin. It’s critical that these things look real.”
“We used yak and human hair on these heads and each strand was punched in individually," explains Nicotero. “We knew these heads would be underwater, and so we wanted the hair to have some movement to it. We strive for very specific anatomical realism in our work.”