At one point during this month’s cover shoot, I looked around and counted more than fifteen people, all of whom—except for me—were integral parts of the whole production. There was the photographer, the photographer’s two assistants, the stylist, the assistant stylist, the zombie hand models, the makeup artist for the actors, the makeup artist for the zombie hands, our design director, two publicists, various hotel employees, and, at the center of it all, Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, stars of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead is filmed in Georgia. That we had to shoot these guys—both of whom live just a few miles from our offices in downtown Atlanta—2,000 miles away in Los Angeles gives you an idea of how even the simplest of ideas can be logistical challenges to see through. First we had to find a time when Reedus and Lincoln’s schedules both allowed for a spare couple of hours. Turns out their calendars did have an opening, but it would have to be at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. (Oh, the sacrifices.) Then we had to find a photographer for that particular Wednesday afternoon. (Thankfully, John Russo, who’s shot covers for Esquire, GQ, and Glamour, among others, was free. Well, by free, I mean available.) Our design director, Liz Noftle, thought it would be cool to have zombie hands reaching into the frame, so she spent an afternoon looking at pictures of hands from a body-parts modeling agency. Of course, that required also finding a makeup artist who could zombify those hands. The stylist had to pull a clothing rack full of jackets and pants, not to mention belts and watches and ties, but first she needed to know the stars’ sizes. And on and on.
Miraculously, by 1 p.m. on October 3, in a conference room at the Four Seasons, everyone was ready. Which is more or less just when Lincoln and Reedus showed up, right on time. I am a novice when it comes to cover shoots like this; in general, greasy plates of barbecue tend to be far more cooperative cover subjects than people, and I’d heard enough nightmare stories about celebrities that I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Lincoln and Reedus turned out to be exactly the kind of guys you want celebrities to be but are almost afraid to wish for—down-to-earth, agreeable, good-humored. The kind of guys you’d like to get a beer with. (Which I had a chance to. Read the story here.) We initially asked Russo to shoot Lincoln and Reedus together, but we did a few shots of them individually, with the zombie hands creeping into the frame. When we saw the results back in Atlanta a few days later, we figured each actor deserved his own cover. Which means the magazine you’re holding might have Reedus on the cover, or it might have Lincoln. Two is just better than one.
Photograph by John Russo