Netflix released Zack Snyder’s new Las Vegas-based zombie heist film, Army of the Dead, on Friday. What some viewers may not have realized is that the director and his special effects team managed to pull off something that seemed nigh impossible—replacing an actor in a key role after the movie had already been shot and deep into post production. Snyder was faced with this challenge after comedian Chris D’Elia was dropped from the film due to controversy, but thanks to some digital wizardry that involved re-creating every scene shot for shot and lots of green screen, the director was able to insert Tig Notaro’s character, helicopter pilot Marianne Peters, seamlessly into Army of the Dead to make it look as if she was really working alongside Dave Bautista and many of the original cast.
For the new shots of Notaro, which began filming in early September 2020, Snyder and the visual-effects team replicated the physical spaces and camera angles of the original scenes at a studio in Simi Valley, California, referencing the old footage on a monitor and using greened-out props, laser pointers, and tennis balls hanging from stands to approximate where Notaro should be looking. And there could be no ad-libbing: Notaro’s dialogue had to sync with the other characters’ reactions.