The legacy of George A. Romero lives on.
In the reimagining of George A. Romero’s cult classic, Day of the Dead: Bloodline is the remake tale of a former med student trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies.
The film stars Sophie Skelton (Starz’s Outlander), Johnathon Schaech (Legends of Tomorrow), Marcus Vanco (The Shannara Chronicles) and Jeff Gum (The Forgiven). It is directed by Hector Hernandez Vicens (The Corpse of Anna Fritz) and written by Mark Tonderai (House at the End of the Street) and Lars Jacobson (Baby Blues).
LRM had a telephone interview last month with actress Sophie Skelton on her experiences on the set of Day of the Dead: Bloodline.
Day of the Dead: Bloodline will be in theaters, VOD and Digital HD on Friday, January 5.
Check out our interview below:
LRM: Tell me on how you were approached to be on this project. You went from Outlander to Day of the Dead: Bloodline here.
Sophie Skelton: [Chuckles] It’s quite a change. It was actually interesting that I was helping a friend’s tape. He asked me to come in to read for him. I was thinking that the script was really good. I was really enjoying reading the part. He suggested that I should try to get in a part. So I did call my agent to get an audition.
The role at that already been cast in fact. Luckily, there was a scheduling conflict with the lead actress. She then dropped out. I auditioned and got the role a couple of days later. It’s all quite lucky really.
LRM: What in particular attracted you to this script? What did you see that you said to yourself, “I would love to do this?”
Sophie Skelton: [Laughs] For me, it was more–as much being a part of that whole zombie genre–it was a George Romero film. He created in it in many ways. It’s about being a part of his cult classic.
It was also the character named Zoe. It is rare to play one character throughout the film, but with two completely different personalities of the character. We would see Zoe five years prior to the apocalypse, in which she was quite meek. She was really unsure of herself. Then we have the Zoe five years later, who is the complete opposite. It was really wonderful to play that.
LRM: Were you familiar with George Romero before in particularly his films?
Sophie Skelton: Yes. I did watch a couple of his originals. Not quite so much the spin-off comedy ones. [Chuckles] I was aware of him–of his work and on what he created. I did revisit it when I was practicing for the role. I became a bigger fan on what he did, especially his 1985 film.
LRM: [Laughs] What was your favorite thing about watching the 1985 version of Day of the Dead?
Sophie Skelton: I think it’s the simplicity of it. It’s not much in the effects, but it stands out even today. It’s really a creepy, scary zombie film. It’s considering on what we see today. We see a lot of CGI. We see a lot of special effects. It’s really, really good to watch something thirty years ago and still stands for itself in comparison on what we see today.
LRM: Speaking for this film Day of the Dead: Bloodline, how much CGI effects were there?
Sophie Skelton: I actually don’t really know. I can say, in terms of the makeup for the zombies, it was all done on set. It was an incredible makeup art effects, especially for Jonathan Schaech’s character. He was in that chair for four to four-and-a-half hours in the mornings. It was over getting it put on and even getting it taken off.
None of that was CGI. It was very real. It was an asset to really be able to have that. That’s what you’re able to act against in a scene. You can react to that. It’s really important to have that.
LRM: I’ve seen the film. The makeup looks terrific, but you being on set and up close, in particular with Jonathan–how did that actually look in real life and up close?
Sophie Skelton: Very creepy. You can also see that black saliva coming out of his mouth. Now all that actually stunk as well. It all added to the creep elements. Also, not sure if you noticed in the film, he also had different contact lenses on. He had a human eye on one side and a zombie eye with the other. I’m not sure on how that was relayed in the film.
It’s really great for Zoe to see that in the film. It showed that he hadn’t really turned fully into a zombie. It’s a cool twist to the original.
LRM: Did you even had the urge yourself to try to sit in the makeup chair for four hours to see on what you would look like as a zombie?
Sophie Skelton: No. [Laughs] It might be curious to see myself as a zombie. To be honest, I did not envy him for having all that makeup on. I didn’t really have that makeup on during the [shooting]. I’m very happy for that, especially in that heat of Bulgaria of that summer.
LRM: [Laughs] Tell me about the location you filmed at in Bulgaria. Did they built a set or was this an actual location for the bunker?
Sophie Skelton: They did go all out for the movie. It’s wonderful to see. There were different stages in that studio. We had the bunker, New York street scene and the university–all of that was built. It’s amazing to see.
For locations, in terms of exterior locations, it was filmed in the mountains. It’s so great to see the mountainside and to be filming up there.
All the sets were completely built from scratch. There was actually one set, if you would remember, they hit the warning buzzer that [activated] the red warning lights. That was also a built set, but it had been there for a while. The dust was insane. Everybody had to wear face masks the whole day of shooting. You just couldn’t breathe in there. [Laughs] It was really heavy. That was quite an experience.
LRM: What was the most fun thing you had to do on this production?
Sophie Skelton: Driving through the mountains in the Hummers was really fun. A lot of the action scenes are always great to do. You get a lot of stunt training on set. You have a stuntman with you all the time. Running around in the corridors was really great to do, especially when you’re with a group of boys and there’s one strong female in the midst. I get quite competitive. [Laughs] We created a good family unit. It was like a competitive sibling rivalry on set.
LRM:: I noticed in your filmography–you have such wide range of TV and film roles under your belt. Is there anything out there on your wish list you want to play? Obviously, you have done fantasy, sci-fi and everything else.
Sophie Skelton: I do like those psychological thrillers. I would love to do something like Black Swan and incorporate ballet with that kind of action into it. Maybe something that’s also pure drama too. A true story based on a real character. It’s able to delve into the mind of a real person with so much research at your fingertips–which is great. Or I’m opened into doing a remake, because you can look at the original to [compare] it.
LRM: One last question for you, Sophie. What actually scares you in real life?
Sophie Skelton: [Long pause and laughs] I’ll say this now and something will happen. I’m not actually easily scared. [Long pause]
LRM: Nothing scares you.
Sophie Skelton: I’m okay with spiders. I’m okay with planes. I don’t know. [Laughs] Give me an example and maybe I can tell you.
LRM: That’s alright. Now we know you’re the bravest out of all of us.
Sophie Skelton: Exactly! I’m exceptionally brave. That’s it! [Laughs] I wish.
LRM: It’s been a pleasure, Sophie. I’ve enjoyed this conversation.
Sophie Skelton: [Laughs] You too. Thanks very much.