Every time you watch Tig Notaro in Zack Snyder’s fresh zombiepalooza smash-and-grab heist movie Army of the Dead. The character you’re looking at was originally played by now scandal-plagued comedian Chris D’Elia. However, he was removed, due for obvious reasons.
Snyder replied rapidly when we asked him if it was a difficult conclusion to replace D’Elia after he was accused by several women of predatory sexual behavior, some were even underage. I think it was a fairly easy one, the filmmaker said, wincing.
It was an expensive one, that’s for sure, added producer Deborah Snyder. The husband and wife filmmaking board estimate that Netflix paid millions of dollars to digitally erase D’Elia and stage reshoots with Tig Notaro so she could be put in among Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, and the rest of the cast.
Zack put the number at “a few million,” while Deborah aimed a little higher. “It was like the cost of our little German movie,” she said, referring to Army of Thieves, the rom-com themed prequel that they shot overseas—which Netflix will release as a follow-up to Army of the Dead, along with an animated series based in the same universe.
TIG NOTARO – THE BETTER REPLACEMENT
I will say, Netflix did the good thing. They put their fortune where their mouth is, Deborah said. D’Elia was impeached in June 2020, after completing his work on the film but amid the months-long Hollywood pandemic shutdown. In August, the Snyders and Netflix declared that Notaro would be taking his place, with every trace of D’Elia completely scrubbed.
D’Elia, known for the TV shows Whitney and You, denied his accusations and has said he never knowingly selected underage women. Still, nobody needed to see him onscreen, including the filmmakers, particularly as the accusations against him continued to pile up.
One obstacle for Army of the Dead was that rearranging the cast for completely fresh takes with Tig Notaro wasn’t an alternative. Since regular filmmaking was still fumbling back to its feet in September when her footage needed to be captured.
It was especially fraught because Tig Notaro is a cancer survivor, which put her at increased risk of difficulties if infected with the coronavirus. She was nervous about being immunocompromised, Deborah said.
All of that meant Tig Notaro would have to go it lonely.
Several months ago, Synder interviewed in his home office as he studied the pictorial shots that overlaid Notaro into existing scenes as the heist squad’s poker-faced helicopter pilot.
Some shots, such as Notaro inside a stalled chopper that she is consciously beginning to restart as it plunges off the side of a towering casino, are obviously filled with C.G. But other cycles, of her walking in the background with the team while Bautista leads them down a corridor, aren’t the kinds of things that usually feature groundbreaking VFX originality.
It turned out to be the best apparent thing for Army of the Dead. Not only did the film lose the unpleasant presence of D’Elia, but Notaro brought a different presence to the character of cigar-chomping Peters.
While Bautista’s squad is smashing into a zombie-overrun Las Vegas casino to recover a lost fortune, Tig Notaro is capturing every scene, all by her lonesome.
Tig Notaro recently said to Stephen Colbert that she looks forward to working again with actual castmates. Snyder said the absence of everyone else was a running joke during their pared-down reshoots. She kept going, ‘You know, Zack, I just realized that I’m not the star of this movie.’ I go, ‘What do mean?’ She goes, ‘It feels like I’m the star because…
“I’m the only one here,’” Debbie Snyder said.