Last summer, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead hit a unique setback when one of its stars, Chris D’Elia, was accused of sexual misconduct and dropped by his talent agency. In response to the situation, it was decided that the production would replace the actor’s role with Tig Notaro’s Marianne Peters after filming had already been long completed. But how did they pull this off?
Army of the Dead producer Deborah Snyder, and wife of writer/director Zack Snyder, shared the incredibly challenging process of replacing one actor’s performance for another following allegations against Chris D’Elia. In her words to The Hollywood Reporter:
It’s so daunting. And let’s couple that with an actual pandemic that we are dealing with. We shot for 14 days to get Tig in the movie. Had it not been the pandemic, we probably would have brought the whole cast in and reshot scenes with everybody. But we didn’t have that luxury. We were trying to keep it small. We were trying to keep it safe. The studios were just making deals with all the unions of what the rules of going back to filming would be.
News of Tig Notaro replacing Chris D'Elia came up in August of last year amidst surges in the COVID-19 pandemic. Some productions around the world had the chance to continue with filming, but under strict guidelines. In order to keep the additional photography as safe as possible, Notaro filmed her scenes primarily on her own without the other actors present. It was an unprecedented decision, and one that demanded a lot of technical prowess. As Deborah Snyder explained:
As one of the first, we were very conservative in our approach, so we decided to shoot it all against greenscreen. Thank God Marcus [Taormina], our visual effects supervisor, is amazing. We sat with him and Zack and figured it out. Every shot had a methodology, and we figured out what we would shoot against greenscreen. We built the rooftop set and then Ana [de la Reguera] came back for one scene.
Another wild aspect of Tig Notaro’s role in Army of the Dead is that she actually had the chance to see the entire film before playing her newly inserted role. Notaro plays a helicopter pilot who is tasked with transporting the group of mercenaries who travel to a zombie-infested Las Vegas to complete a big heist. We’ll have to see how it looks when the movie comes out, but as Deborah Snyder revealed, only one scene actually had Notaro physically interacting with another actor from the film. Check out the trailer below:
From what we’ve seen so far, I never would have guessed that Tig Notaro was added to the film later via green screens and some major CGI work. Zack Snyder has pulled off some seriously impressive after-the-fact filming work as of late, such as in his cut of Justice League. It included a new epilogue sequence with Jared Leto’s Joker, which Snyder apparently shot in his driveway, a location he also used to shoot an unreleased sequence featuring his Green Lantern.
Army of the Dead comes to select theaters this Friday, May 14, and drops on Netflix on May 21.