The Walking Dead took Comic-Con by storm yet again with another packed Hall H panel on Friday, but the celebrations for the zombie series didn’t stop there. Celebs and other Comic-Con attendees celebrated the comic book and the AMC TV show it inspired at a party near the San Diego Convention Center last night.
A follow-up to last year’s 100th issue celebration for The Walking Dead in Petco Park during Comic-Con, this year’s Hyundai-sponsored event celebrating the comic book’s 10th anniversary was in a parking lot in downtown San Diego. (Zachary Levi’s Nerd HQ had commandeered Petco Park.)
Weezer performed at the event — so yes, a bunch of Hollywood celebs did rock out to A-lister wannabe anthem “Beverly Hills.” Nathan Fillion beelined for the center of the pit in front of the stage as soon as he arrived. Among the other attendees were Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, Fillion’s Castle co-star Molly Quinn, Buffy alum Seth Green, and Vampire Diaries actor Paul Wesley. Of course, talent from AMC’s The Walking Dead were also in attendance, including Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene), David Morrissey (the Governor), comic book creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman, and Danai Gurira (Michonne).
Badass zombie fighter Michonne certainly doesn’t get any chances to dress up and attend glitzy parties, but Gurira (pictured above) savored the opportunity to do just that at last night’s event.
“It is very nice to get to be a girl. I have a tough girl in me, and then I have a little girly girl in me, so the girly girl’s happy right now,” she told reporters on the event’s carpet.
One key element of the returning event was back: zombies roaming the party. Actors dressed in torn and dirty clothes, with pale and blood-stained makeup walked among the event’s guests throughout the night.
“I’ve gotten a few jumps. This guy’s actually pretty good,” he said, pointing to one blood-stained zombie staggering in between celebs on the carpet, “but [Walking Dead makeup artist and executive producer Greg] Nicotero would give him some notes on the walk. He’s a little bit too drunk as opposed to zombie-ish.”
Kirkman gave the party zombies “a solid 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s hard to get a 10,” he told EW on the event’s carpet. They also got high marks from The Nerdist and Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. “They look amazing,” he said. “They do not drop the zombie character, so they are either really good actors or they are actual walking dead creatures.”
Indeed, the actors tasked with freaking out party-goers stayed in character throughout the event. But EW spoke with one of them, Dan Gilbert, on the phone Saturday morning. In addition to walking the zombie walk Friday night in a grunged up orange jumpsuit and plenty of gory makeup, Gilbert designed the actors’ makeup for San Diego Spotlight Entertainment.
Gilbert said that the look for the event’s zombies was inspired by Nicotero’s work but “we took a lot of liberties,” explaining that the party zombies’ makeup was a little more rugged to work for an event with no time for touch-ups. He also took particular care with depicting the bruising that appears under the skin in corpses.
The zombies stumbled around both the AstroTurf carpet and past a Hyundai zombie survival machine, into the party, continually startling unsuspecting attendees. Though he wouldn’t name names, Gilbert told EW that he managed to scare one celeb into screaming and running away.
“With this crowd, it’s always rewarding when they give compliments or they’re really disturbed by it because they’ve seen it a lot,” he said. “They’re around zombies 12 hours a day, and we still got some pretty good reactions.”
The cast and crew of The Walking Dead returned to those 12 hours a day with zombies in May, when production on season 4 began. The show returns on Sunday, Oct. 13. For teases of what’s to come in the new season, check out EW’s current Walking Dead cover story.