Today we have the first in a pair of interviews with Co-Executive Producer and Special Effects Make-Up Designer for The Walking Dead, Greg Nicotero.
Greg Nicotero began his career under the tutelage of director George Romero and effects master Tom Savini in Pittsburgh and quickly relocated to Hollywood. His skills as a coordinator helped him adapt easily to the needs of the film industry. Greg’s good-natured personality and devotion has won over directors such as Frank Darabont, M. Night Shamalyan and Quentin Tarantino.
During Season One of The Walking Dead, Greg served as Consulting Producer as well as 2nd unit director & make-up effects supervisor on The Walking Dead, for which he was nominated for 2 Emmy awards, for Best Make-up in a Series and Best Visual Effects.
Nicotero has been responsible for designing effects sequences with Robert Rodriguez, Sam Raimi and Wes Craven from initial creature design to on set operation and 2nd unit direction for George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead, R.L. STINE’S The Haunting Hours, and the Stephen King/Frank Darabont collaboration The Mist.
Nicotero wrote and directed his first short film entitled The Untitled Monster Talent Agency around a fictitious 1950’s company that handled “real” monsters for Hollywood’s classic era of creature features. The film was accepted into over 60 festivals around the world and won “Best Short” at many of these festivals.
The KNB EFX Group (KNB) was formed in 1988 by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero. In the last two decades, their talents have been highlighted in such films as Dances with Wolves, The Green Mile, Sin City, Transformers and Pulp Fiction. Prosthetics and character make-ups can be seen in everythign from Kill Bill, Splice, Drag me To Hell, The Hills Have Eyes to Boogie Nights, Grindhouse, Austin Powers: Goldmember and Army of Darkness. The work on Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of the graphic novels for Sin City was lauded for the character prosthetics created for Mickey Rourke, Benecio Del Toro, Nick Stahl and Rutger Hauer and won the 2005 Hollywood Film Festival Award for Make-Up of the Year.
In the last few years, Nicotero supervised make-up effects on no less than 90 films, from Inglourious Basterds to the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks HBO series The Pacific, The Book Of Eli, Piranha 3-D and the Robert Rodriguez/Nimrod Antal reboot Predators, for which he supervised the re-imagining this iconic creature. Nicotero also served as executive producer on the Starz documentary Fantastic Flesh: The Art Of Special Make-Up Effects that highlights not only the history of make-up but also KNB’S significant contributions. Most recently, he won his 2nd Emmy for his work on HBO’s The Pacific.
KNB also met the demand for animal duplicates and animatronic “critters.” Kevin Costner gave them their first real challenge, to create the slain buffalos for Dances With Wolves. They have also provided animatronic animals for Eraser, The Hulk and Underdog, to name a few. One of their biggest challenges was The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe in which Nicotero and Berger created literally hundreds of fantasy creatures ranging from prosthetic satyrs and centaurs to an animatronic lion, dozens of goblins and crones. The film, which shot on two continents over eight months, won the duo a British Academy Award for Best Make-Up as well as earning the company an Oscar®.
As they enter into their 23rd year, their work can be seen in Priest, Fright Night with Colin Farrell, The Grey starring Liam Neeson, Spy Kids 4 and Alcon Entertainment’s A Dolphin Tale directed by Charles Martin Smith while season 2 of The Walking Dead and Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful are in front of the cameras.
Greg Nicotero and his wife Shari live in Los Angeles with their two children, Deven and Alyssa.