Exclusive Interview With Special Effects Legend Greg Nicotero
By James Whittington, Wednesday 22nd August 2012

Greg NicoteroGreg Nicotero is a legend in the film industry. His special effects and make-up work has graced some of the most popular movies and TV shows of the last 30 years. This creative genius shows no sign of slowing down as he continues to create innovative and jaw-dropping work time after time. He is part of KNB FX and has also made the move into directing too.

Nicotero will be presented with the Variety Award on Saturday August 25th, following an on-stage interview at this year's FrightFest The 13th so we decided to have a quick chat with him about his work and what future releases he’s been working on.

HC: You had, what many would consider, a dream start to your career working alongside George A Romero and Tom Savini, how did this happen?

GN: Ironically I had met George while he was in Rome working on the script for Dawn Of The Dead and we became friends. My uncle, Sam Nicotero, was a local actor and had a part in The Crazies so we had a mutual acquaintance.

HC: How nervous were you?

GN: More in awe than nervous. It was like waking up in another world standing on set next to George and Tom. It was one of the most exciting times of my career

HC: KNB EFX has become one of the most respected effects teams in the industry, you and the other members of the group must be rightly proud of its achievements. What do you think has been its finest moment?

GN: When we started in 1988, we were able to bypass the splatter films to some degree and get a chance to do films like City Slickers and Dances With Wolves. Having the chance to be associated with more mainstream films opened a lot of doors for us. I remember always saying I didn't want the company to peak after Dances so always pushed us forward.

HC: You work across genres from horror to family fantasy to period drama; which film genre is your favourite to work in and why?

GN: I love horror and always will... something I grew up watching and still am fascinated when you react to something in a movie and the hairs stand on the back of your neck...

HC: Do you have a favourite director whom you work with?

GN: Way too many to name but immediately Frank Darabont comes to mind along with Robert Rodriguez, Quentin, Sam Raimi, George Romero, I mean I got to work with Spielberg and we talked about Jaws for crying out loud!

HC: You're a co-executive producer on the global hit The Walking Dead. The series really does strike the perfect balance between gruesome horror and heart-breaking drama. How do you constantly keep up this quality in storytelling and effects?

GN: Ironic for me to say but the acting and storytelling are very important to me. The horror works when the audience cares and for our characters and it is a balance I am always very aware of... and we try to make sure everything feels grounded... the decisions our characters make our decisions we would all make in the same situation….and then there are zombies.

HC: Have there been creature designs for the series that have been considered just too gross for TV?

GN: Never! I get to do anything I want... which is the most freedom I have ever had.

HC: Could there be a The Walking Dead movie in the future?

GN: Sure... but if you think about it... we make a movie every week... that is how we approach the series

HC: You're now a regular behind the camera, would you like to become a full-time director?

GN: I am directing 3 episodes this season and get a chance to work with this amazing cast and crew from a different perspective and that is a fantastic collaboration.

HC: You're at FrightFest to receive the Variety Award for your work; do you get nervous at such ceremonies?

GN: Ask me on Saturday. Ha!

HC: Zombies - which do you prefer; walkers or runners?

GN: Walkers (Simon Pegg and I will go to our graves defending slow zombies).

HC: What advice would you give to someone wanting to have a career in effects make-up?

GN: Photograph everything! It is the best way to learn to analyse what you do and be able to be critical of your work. I am always wanting to improve on the work we do and you always learn every day... the person that doesn't think there is anything new to learn is lost.

HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?

GN: It is all The Walking Dead all the time right now. We just wrapped on The End Of The World comedy with Seth Rogan, Pain And Gain with Michael Bay, Machete Kills with my best pal Rodriguez, The Man With The Iron Fist with RZA, prepping Horns with Alex Aja and waiting for release on Raimi's Oz in March and Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho.

HC: Greg Nicotero, thank you very much.

GN: Anytime.

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