Rob Hall beat a mass of grotesque competition to win our zombie auditions. Since then, his life has been turned upside down with appearances on Big Brother to forthcoming TV appearances in the US. We caught up with Rob to see how he was getting along…
After an audition at the Pineapple Dance Studios and a rigorous interview process, he triumphed. We sat down to ask him what is’t like to be a professional zombie…
How has your life changed since winning our Zombie challenge?
Since winning, my life does seem to have changed a lot, and not just in terms of getting my zomb on! Obviously the zombie work itself is the biggest change; it seems that every other week I’m doing some filming, or a photoshoot, or any other assortment of random zombie adventures. But on top of that I’ve had a massive increase in my own self-confidence. No longer am I just another nameless face in the crowd… I’m a professional zombie!
How did you hear about the competition?
Luckily an old workmate of mine who also followed him and knew about my love of the undead retweeted it my way. The rest, as they say, is history!
What was the audition process like?
It was really a little intimidating to begin with, simply due to the quality of zombie talent I was up against. The moment I stepped through the door to the studio and saw all these zombie fanatics in amazing make-up and really fantastic outfits, my heart just sank. I looked down at myself and just thought “ I’m so far out of my league”.
But once I was in make-up I started to feel more comfortable. The audition panel asked the standard interview questions (“Do you mind being shot at with ballistic weapons?” etc.) and then the moment came to showcase the best zombie performance I could muster.
Obviously I did something right!
When did you hear about your victory and how did you react?
I’d actually put the competition out of my mind.
So many weeks had passed that I’d naturally assumed one of the better zombies had triumphed, and I’d moved on with my normal life. I was actually on my way to get a tattoo when I had a missed call on my mobile, and just before going in I dialled my voicemail to hear a message saying “You may remember the zombie audition from the summer?” (as if I’d ever forget) “ I’ve got some very exciting news if you can give me a call back.” So I spent the next two hours under the needle trying to stay calm (and still!), whilst desperately wanting to return the call.
As soon as I was out of there I got straight on the phone to receive the news I never expected but really hoped for: that I’d won! I think the first thing I did was burst out laughing and texting/Tweeting/Facebooking everyone I knew, and then I went out and bought donuts.
Take us through a typical day as a zombie?
There isn’t really a typical day as such, which is part of what keeps the zombie thing so much fun and so fresh. It can range from a photoshoot with professional actors, to wandering around a convention hall with some of my closest friends.
But one thing they all have in common is that they tend to start at an unreasonably early hour. Even though I’d spent many years honing my best zombie impression I’d never been in make-up until the audition, and I’d certainly never attempted to do monster make-up myself. As such I’m still a little slow on the zombifying front, and so the process from Human Rob to Zombie Rob usually takes around two hours.
Once I’ve been through the arduous process of contact lenses, liquid latex, more liquid latex, even more liquid latex, several shades of make-up, half a dozen varieties of fake blood, and tooth enamel then I’m ready to go!
What opportunities have you been offered since winning?
Where do I start? Through the friends I’ve made in the zombie community I’ve started to build up a bit of an undead network, and all kinds of things have arisen from it.
I’ve done promo work for a film, extra work for a TV series, and the most surreal experience was having a documentary crew doing a feature on my life as a professional zombie! If you’d told me 12 months ago that this was going to be a major part of my life, I’d have smiled politely and started to slowly back away.
Most recently I’ve auditioned for a TV advert, so this undead mug could be appearing in commercial breaks throughout the country if I’m lucky enough.
Have you met anyone famous through your work?
A big one in the world of zombie films was Marvin Campbell, who played the infected Private Mailer in 28 Days Later. But probably my favourite was doing a photocall for the film Warm Bodies, in which I got to meet Nicolas Hoult. As a big Marvel film fan it was great to be working with the man who played Beast in X-Men: First Class.
How do people react when you tell them what you do?
The reaction seems to be pretty universal when you tell someone you’re a professional zombie: surprise, confusion (not necessarily in that order), and then a stream of “what/where/how?” questions.
To this day I’ve not had a negative reaction from anyone, and I’ve got such a passion for it. People just love zombies!
Are there any perks stemming from being a professional zombie?
The hours can be long, unpredictable, and absolutely exhausting, but the main perk is YOU GET TO BE A ZOMBIE!!! Whether it’s posing for a photo, shambling your way along a film set, or frightening the life out of someone on an experience day, the feeling of being a zombie is a feeling like no other.
What other zombie related activities do you get involved in?
Aside from the professional work I haven’t managed to get to many events on the zombie calendar yet, but this is something I plan to change. I’m already signed up for Silent Studios’ Zombie Weekend: a two day festival where the festival-goers are under constant threat of an undead horde!
I’m also planning on attending the Birmingham Zombie Walk in the summer, as well as the celebrations for World Zombie Day later in the year. And on non-specifically-zombie note I’ve started attending conventions dressed as zombified versions of popular characters. Zombie Arthur Dent (Hitch-hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy) went down a storm in the spring, and Zombie Magnum P.I. is on the cards for the autumn!
Do you have any zombie related ambitions?
My greatest ambition would be to get a film role. I’ve done still photos, a documentary, and TV extra work, so to be a zombie on the big screen would be a dream come true for me.
And though it’s not quite zombie-related, I’d love the opportunity to meet Stephen Fry. None of this would have been possible without his original tweet, and I’d like to be able to shake his hand and thank him in person for the awesome road he’s sent my life down.