It wasn’t her first acting gig (it wasn’t even her first time playing a zombie), but appearing as The Walking Dead’s first on-screen “walker” has given Addy Miller a degree of fame she never expected.
Miller, of course, was Little Girl Zombie, the zombified girl shot by Rick Grimes in the opening scene of the popular series’ first episode. She was actually 10 when the episode was filmed, but due to her small size she looked to be about 8.
Incidentally, Miller was actually 8 when she landed her first role — playing the younger version of Dakota Fanning’s character in “The Secret Life of Bees.” After landing several other film parts, Miller decided to try for a television role.
“It was different because 1. I didn’t know what I was auditioning for (the producers kept it a secret until I was cast), and 2. my audition piece was actually acting like a zombie “with hunger in my eyes” but with no zombie makeup,” Miller said. “My mom shot the audition on video in my yard, about a week later I learned I got the part!”
Landing the part meant that she would have to sit through the make-up process to be transformed into a zombie. Miller said she’d done it before, and knew she could handle it.
“The hardest part was not falling asleep! I had to sit there for 2 1/2 hours, it was easy to get sleepy. The makeup was actually made just for my face. I had head molds and teeth molds done, and I had fittings and a dry run before I actually showed up for the actual shoot day,” Miller said. “Greg Nicotero wanted to make sure everything would be perfect that day. The makeup wasn’t that bad either. I had Andy Schoneberg and Garrett Immel doing my makeup in the trailer, with Greg putting on the finishing touches and all the blood on set.”
Prior to filming her scene, Miller also got to spend time with Andrew Lincoln, the actor who plays series lead Rick Grimes. She said the older actor had wanted to make sure she was comfortable with the scene, but in the end she did the same for him.
“He wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the scene and him shooting me. He and I got some time to talk and he said he wanted to get to know me better before he had to shoot me,” she said. “I told him this wasn’t my first time dying on screen and it wasn’t the first time I was a zombie, and I think that made him feel better.”
Miller said Nicotero also took steps to make sure she her time on set was not traumatic.
“He really watched over me and made sure I was comfortable and happy,” she said. “He even called me the night before to make sure I was feeling ok and not too nervous. He was like a dad to me on set.”
Miller said she had a fun time on the set, but she did her job and went home. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the young actress until after the show came out.
“I remember my first Walking Dead fan mail and my first invite to be at a convention, and I was just blown away,” Miller said. “Now I see dolls and artist prints and so many more things with this Little Girl Zombie on it, and I am so thankful I got to be her!”
Miller has since become a regular on the convention circuit and says she truly enjoys getting to meet with fans and reunite with the show’s cast.
“They treat me like I have been on the show the whole time and everyone is just so nice and loving,” she said. “When you hear the rumors about how the cast is like family, it is true – they really do feel that way about each other, and I am lucky to be part of that family!”
A number of actors have made numerous appearances on the Walking Dead, wearing different make-up and costumes to portray a variety of walkers. Miller said she would love the chance to do the same, but the opportunity hasn’t yet come her way.
In the meantime, Miller is keeping busy with a variety of projects.
“I just finished a new horror short called ‘Red Rose.’ We shot it in Alabama this summer and I am the lead, Rose, and I get to work with RA Mihailoff (Texas Chainsaw Massacre III: Leatherface) as the other lead,” Miller said.“I also had a movie come out on DVD recently ‘Bad Blood:The Hatfields and McCoys,’ and I’m Alifair McCoy. It stars Christian Slater, Jeff Fahey, Perry King and Priscilla Barnes.”
Miller said she also keeps busy off-screen volunteering at the Autism Society of North Carolina’s autism camp called Camp Royall.
“My two brothers have autism so it is near and dear to my heart,” she said.
Miller said she can’t talk about some of her up-coming roles yet, but fans can follow her career at her Facebook Fan Page (www.facebook.com/addymillerfanpage) and on Instagram and Twitter (both @TheAddyMiller)
While the roles may not be public knowledge yet, fans can be assured that Miller plans to keep acting well into the future.
“If it is the lead role, that is great, but if it isn’t, that is fine too, as long as I am in front of the camera, I am happy,” she said. “My mom always says there are no small roles, and I really feel that way too. I just love the experience of being on set and being a part of it all.”