Army of the Dead won critics over if the first reactions are any indication but it had already seemingly won fans over following its most recent trailer. The full look at Zack Snyder's zombie movie came complete with a zombie tiger roaring into the frame, creating a substantial buzz across social media in its own right. As it turns out, there was no real tiger on the set of Army of the Dead but there cast and crew did have to find a way to bring the beast to undead life and convince the audience the characters were really looking at such a creature. In exclusive interviews with ComicBook.com, Army of the Dead cast members opened up about what it was like to film sequences involving the zombie tiger.
"There's a moment where the zombie tiger, which by the way, we, as a cast, never got to see the zombie tiger until we watched the film," Army of the Dead's Vanderohe actor Omari Hardwick explained. "Instead, we had this awesome stunt coordinator who was just hopping around, holding a stick, almost like a puppet attached to the stick. And that was the zombie tiger and Zach would would say, 'Follow that. That's a zombie tiger. Ooh.' And so we weren't able to be as afraid obviously as we would be had there actually been Siegfried and Roy's tiger there zombified out." This was the moment where Hardwick realized they were really buying into and immersing themselves in this zombie world. "Ultimately that was the moment because equally again, they're not carcasses," Hardwick said of the zombies. "You actually see our actors who were playing the zombies and they encroach while, again, this puppet is playing as though it's the tiger encroaching. That was the moment where I thought, 'Man, this is a really interesting moment for me and my career,' because I didn't know."
For some, the zombie tiger moments did not make as much of an impact. Nora Arnezeder, who plays Army of the Dead's hardened warrior and leader in the form of Lily, did not have much to say about the zombie tiger on the film's set. "You know what? It was two years ago. I don't remember actually," she said. "I think I was imagining my mother. Just kidding. Hi, Mom!"
Then there's Matthias Schweighöfer. Schweighöfer has the most detailed account of how the film created these moments before visual effects. "To be honest, and we were standing there, it was freaking hot, and our first AD had a microphone, and she did like, 'Okay, zombie tiger is moving from left to right, and from right to left,'" Schweighöfer explained. "And there was a hat, a stunt guy who did all these movements, but that was one of the funniest things I ever saw in my life. And at the end, you watch the movie, and you think, 'Oh my God, that's a zombie freaking tiger. This looks real.' But the truth is, that was really, really funny on this day when we shot the zombie tiger. A green hat, a stunt coordinator and a first AD on a microphone. 'Roar!'"
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Army of the Dead arrives on Netflix on May 21 and opens in select theaters on May 14.