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Interview with Jason Nicholson TWD

Thanks for taking the time to talk with Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a bit about your work on The Walking Dead?


Hello, my name is Jason Nicholson. I am 35 years old, and am a native to Atlanta, Georgia. I have been watching The Walking Dead since the beginning, but did not start working on the show until the beginning of Season 3, which was in 2012. I play a walker on the show, and have been a featured walker several times, as well as just a background walker, or what we call mid-ground, or deep.



-Jason,how did you get picked to play a walker in The Walking Dead TV show?


I had been doing background acting work for a little while before I submitted to work on The Walking Dead. It was still all kind of new to me. I saw a Facebook post by the casting company and responded. I consider myself very lucky. I was on Facebook at the time it was posted, and they kept the post up for about 5 minutes before it was taken down. When they post calls for extras on that show they won't directly say it's for The Walking Dead. The post is sort of written in code. You have to know what you are reading. By reading the description I knew it was for walkers for The Walking Dead.


At the bottom of the post in ALL CAPS it said, Please Do Not Share This Post. I didn't share it, but several other shares had happened within the 5 minutes that the post was up. That's why the took the post down so quickly. Like I said, I was online at the time and managed to get the email address, and was able to submit my info to them. Info being, 2 or 3 pictures of what I looked like, height, weight, clothing sizes, shoe size, etc. I certainly fit the physical description of what they were looking for, but I had no idea if I would be picked or not. I had worked with this casting company once before, so I didn't exactly know them very well. The Walking Dead is the most popular show on cable TV, and while it may not have been as popular back in 2012, it was still popular. That meant a lot of people here in the Atlanta area wanted to work on it, and still do.


Anyway, about a week after my submission I got a call inviting me to zombie school. Zombie school is what they call their crash course training session that only takes a few hours, teaching you the basics of zombie movement, as well as telling you a little about the origins of the show and characters. We also got to meet some of the Executive Producers, Directors, Stunt Coordinator, etc. Greg Nicotero, co-executive producer and head of special effects makeup, was there and he basically lead the instruction during zombie school. He is an artistic and horror genius, but he's also a really cool guy. Anyway, zombie school lasted about 3 hours on a Saturday. They did it in groups. For instance, I was in Group A and there was somewhere around 40 of us in that group. Of course attending and complete zombie school training didn't guarantee us a spot on the show. The directors, producers, and others would have to confer, look at photos and the notes that they took, and decide on who they wanted. To wrap this story up, I got an email a few days after zombie school booking me to work on the premiere of Season 3. I was really exciting seeing that email. I replied right away, and was sent further instructions. I was beyond excited, as it was going to be my first time working on The Walking Dead.

-Have you had much interaction with the main cast and crew? Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories you can share?


I have had some interaction with the main cast and crew. I haven't worked closely with all of them, and haven't met or talked to all of them. The few that I have worked with, or talked to directly, were all very professional but also nice. As extras, we aren't supposed to approach the actors or bother them, and we don't, but if they say something to us we are allowed to respond to them. Most of the time it's during downtime, lunch or some other break between shooting that the actors will say anything anyway. At the end of Season 3 I got to work with The Governor, David Morrissey. On set as The Governor he is very imposing, and is quite tall. He's actually a very nice guy though. A polite gentleman, which is total opposite of his Governor character. I've also worked with Danai Gurira before, who plays katana wielding Michonne.

She is also extremely nice, and has been great to work with. The funniest person on set by far is Norman Reedus. That guy just likes to have a good time, and joke around. He's a great actor, but also a great personality to be around. He knows when to be serious when the time comes, but you can tell that he really enjoys what he does. I've also worked with Alanna Masterson, Tara on the show. She came up to me after lunch and wanted to take my picture in my makeup. It sort of surprised me because I had never had that happen before. Melissa McBride, Carol, was also there with her, so we talked for a couple of minutes. They were both very nice ladies, and on a different location another day Alanna had her dog on set. She allowed some of us to play fetch with her dog, since we were outside. That was a fun experience.

-Can you tell us about the makeup application process? What was the longest it’s taken for them to prepare you for a scene?


Ahh, the makeup experience. That's an interesting one. It's fun to sit there and watch the artists work, seeing what sort of creation they will come up with this time. Generally the application process from start to finish is an hour and a half. That's the time they are allotted, but it doesn't always take that long. Sometimes they need more, depending on the complexity of the makeup. Us walkers don't really worry about the length of time it takes. We just sit there in the chair and relax, while the make up artists do their thing. It's usually early in the morning when we have to report, so sometimes we will try to get a nap in the makeup chair.


We can't always do that though, because the artists need our participation, such as "hold your arms out, lift your head up, open your mouth, close your eyes, look up at the ceiling", and so on and so forth. We have to be aware of what's going on, so falling completely asleep is out of the question, even if sitting there is quite relaxing. The longest it's ever taken them to prepare me for a scene is probably an hour and a half to two hours. Part of the make up that day included a mouth piece. The make up artist had trouble getting the piece positioned in my mouth so it would stay. I think he tried the adhesive 3 different times. He finally got it to where it would come in and out easily, and stay put when it was in my mouth. I know he was getting frustrated that day with the mouth appliance, but it looked good once it was in.


-Which episodes have you appeared in? What was your role in those episodes?


Starting in Season 3, I was in episode 1 as a civilian walker in the prison courtyard. I was a prison inmate walker in episode 4. In episode 11 I was a walker when Andrea comes back to the prison to visit. Rick grabs her and throws her on the fence, and I come up from the side and get right in her face on the fence. In episode 14 when the Governor is chasing Andrea and they end up in a dark warehouse. The Governor is dragging a shovel around the warehouse and creepily whistling. Andrea cuts her hand while trying to open a door with a broken glass window.


The Governor is behind her, thinking he has her cornered, so she opens this door and hides behind it, while at the same time letting a whole bunch of walkers into the room. I am one of those walkers. The Governor takes his shovel and turns it sideways, and then puts it across two walkers' chests. He pushes against the walkers, and then slams them up against the wall. I am one of those walkers. The scene continues, as we are getting closer to the Governor. I am one of the walkers that he shoots up close. After I get shot, the camera focuses through my exploding head as I drop, and looks to Andrea through the broken glass window of that door. She is looking back through it at the Governor.



In Season 4 I was in several episodes during the first half of the season, but I was mostly deep background. I was in episode 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8. In episode 5 I was playing a dead walker laying in the back of trailer at the prison that Michonne was loading bodies onto. Rick comes up and asks if she needs any help, and Herschel is in the scene too. I simply had to lay there on top of other zombie dummies. It wasn't too bad, except for the heat that day. Thankfully, between takes they had someone with an umbrella come over and hold it over my head and face to keep me a little cooler.


In Season 5 I've been in episode 4, 6, 8, and 10. Episode 4 of this season I was the walker in the hospital that reaches out and grabs Noah as he's rappelling down the elevator shaft. That was a really cool scene to work on. If you haven't watched the behind the scenes video on how they made that episode then go watch it. The elevator and hospital floor set that they built was awesome. All constructed in 8 days. It's mind blowing. In episode 6 I was a walker approaching Daryl and Carol as Daryl is trying to bust open the door to a building . They were in a car which ran out of fuel, so then they had to exit the car and make a run for it. I was one of the walkers that comes out of the shadows that Carol sees as she is gazing out. In episode 8, the mid season finale, I was the second walker that gets killed in the hospital courtyard. Abraham and company arrive in a fire truck to the hospital. They get out and start walking towards the door, when the first walker comes out from behind the military tent and Glenn knifes him in the throat.

Then I come out from the other side and walk towards Michonne, who proceeds to slice my head off. Another fun scene to work on. I always wanted to get killed by Michonne, with the katana. I was so excited when I found out that's how it was going to happen. Finally, in episode 10 I was in the group of walkers approaching the barn during the thunderstorm. Daryl looks out the gap in the doors of the barn, lightning strikes and all you see is walkers approaching. Of course, unfortunately for us walkers, we were all wiped out by the tornado.

-You working in the TV/Film industry in Atlanta since 2012 and work mostly on The Walking Dead, from Season 3 to the present.You have seen Stars come and die. Which one do you missed mostly?


The actor that I miss most is probably Emily Kinney who played Beth. I worked with her in episode 4 of Season 5 at the hospital, when she and Noah are rappelling down the elevator shaft. She's another nice, just down to earth individual. I didn't get to watch the filming of her actual death scene, but I was there when the group walks up to the hospital doors and Daryl carries her body out. It was emotional then filming it, so I knew when it aired that it was going to be very emotional. Emily is such a great person, as well as an excellent musician. You should check out her music if you haven't already.




-Jason,Are you currently working on any other projects?

As of right now I am not working on anything else, but a project that I was working on that wrapped filming in January is airing on March 10th on PlayStation Network. It's called Powers, and is based off the comic by Brian Michael Bendis. It's a PlayStation Original TV series featuring Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor, Eddie Izzard, Olesya Rulin, and others. I was a photo double on that set. Check it out. Airing March 10th on PSN.



-At the last some words for our readers and your Fans?


I knew there are many international fans of The Walking Dead, and I simply say thank you for your support. Without the fans this show wouldn't be what it is today. I am also a fan, just like you are. That's one thing that makes working on this show so great. I started off a fan, and still am. It's exciting to see the finished product week in and week out. We just want to do the best we can, so people like you, the fans, are entertained. After all, that's why we are actors. We enjoy bringing entertainment into the lives of the fans at home. So, thanks again for watching and reading, Germany. I hope you all enjoy the rest of this season, and look forward to Season 6. Thanks for your time. All the best!

Jason Nicholson


Thank you very much and maybe we see us some day in germany.

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