Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead is now out in the world to mixed reviews. There’s a lot going on in the 2.5-hour CGI-heavy bloodfest, including a zombie tiger. But one of the film’s greatest achievements is the digital inclusion of one actor.
Tig Notaro, who plays helicopter pilot Peters, was brought in as a last-minute recast after filming had wrapped on Army of the Dead. Notaro came in to replace comedian Chris D’Elia who was accused of predatory acts in June 2020.
Shortly after this Snyder announced he would be erasing D’Elia from all his scenes and replacing him with Notaro.
However, as a result of the pandemic shutdown in Hollywood, all of Notaro’s scenes had to be digitally inserted into the film. This meant she never actually spent time with any of her castmates.
These effects look pretty seamless during the film – unless you’re specifically looking out for them. So how did Snyder pull it off?
How Army of the Dead brought Tig Notaro to life
The effort to put Notaro in the film apparently cost millions of dollars, Snyder and his wife, Deborah, told Vanity Fair. However, this process was still easier than bringing back the entire cast of Army of the Dead during a worldwide pandemic.
The role required Notaro to take on training and rehearsals while in lockdown.
“I did firearm training over Zoom in my office while my children were playing Lego in the next room,” Notaro told Vulture.
Meanwhile, Snyder and his visual effects supervisor, Marcus Taormina, worked on erasing D’Elia completely. This way Notaro would be able to make the role her own rather than match De’Elia’s movements.
When it came to filming Notaro’s scenes, everything was done entirely via a green screen rather than on location in Atlantic City where the rest of the film was shot.
Notaro shot the scenes without her co-stars. When the script called for her to physically interact with another actor she had to mime actions or she played off her her assistant in a green suit.
Snyder then had to go through the arduous task of inserting Notaro’s part seamlessly into the film.
“Some of the trickiest shots were where she’s walking in the group — I had to match the [camera] pans, and it was difficult to get the perspective to match. It was a few months to get all the individual effects and make it seamless,” Snyder said in Vulture’s article.
Notaro said that being the only one on set made her feel like the star of the show. But she realised later a lot of her scenes showed her blurred-out figure in the background.
Still, the effort turned out to be worth it because Notaro is easily the breakout star of the film.
If you want to check out this CGI magic for yourself, Aussies can watch Army of the Dead right now on Netflix.