The Whisperers are a threat unlike any other we’ve seen over nine seasons of The Walking Dead. They’re the most disgusting, yes, but also, they’re the “most formidable group we’ve come across because they have the power of zombies behind them.” That’s what showrunner Angela Kang told journalists from various publications, including Uproxx, who visited the set of The Walking Dead last fall. The Whisperers hype was embargoed until the season 9b premiere, but now that Alpha (played by Samantha Morton) is here, anything goes.
“I’m really excited for the people who don’t know the story to hopefully see the twists unfold,” said Kang. “I’m really excited about the cast we have, Samantha Morton and Ryan Hurst as Alpha and Beta. I just think they’ve brought so much energy and intensity already to the process, like, in such a great way.”
Director and makeup effects master Greg Nicotero thinks the Whisperers have a “very unique perspective” for how “they’ve abandoned the way of life that we all believe in. It’s interesting, when you think about Walking Dead and you think about the fact that they’re fighting desperately to preserve society. And at some point it’s like, that society that we knew probably will never exist again. What is the next order?” He also discussed the inspiration for the Whisperers’ dead-skin looks (and why he didn’t want them to look like another iconic horror villain):
“It’s tricky, because the way they were drawn in the comic books, they were trying to emulate that sort of sagging skin, so they all looked melted … And I was like, ‘I don’t want them to look melted and I don’t want it to look like Leatherface either.’ The trick is, you got to preserve the bone structure of the skull, even though theoretically the bone structure wouldn’t be there because they’re flaying the skin off. But when you look at the masks, you can see that we maintained the deep eye sockets, because I wanted the brow to stick out enough to put a shadow over the eyes, so when you look at the faces, everything’s in shadow so you get nothing there. I wanted to over-texture everything, so all the sculptures are really over textured and really shriveled looking and a lot of rot and decay.”
The Walking Dead airs (almost) every Sunday on AMC.