CRESTVIEW — The Crestview High School wrestling team's first zombie run fundraiser will feature a guest zombie from TV's "The Walking Dead."
Travis Charpentier, who portrayed the RV Walker and several other zombies on the popular television show, will take photos in character and autograph items for donations on the day of the run.
How did this happen? His niece Katelyn Meinert, is a CHS wrestler and he wanted to support the team's fundraising activities. Wrestlers will dress as zombies for the run, and participants who wish to may do the same.
Registration for the 5K and 1K kids fun run is 7:30 a.m. Oct. 28 at CHS, 1250 N. Ferdon Blvd. The running starts at 8 a.m. Cost is $25 for ages 13 and up by Oct. 23, and $30 after that. The kids run costs $15 for age 12 and younger, and cost is $15 for current cross country members as well. All proceeds support the Crestview wrestling program.
Charpentier will be available for photos and autographs from 8-10 a.m. at the school, and 1-5 p.m. in front of Lolo's Cakes & Sweets, 106 N. Main St., Crestview.
The Fort Walton Beach resident portrayed countless zombies on the show.
"I was really big into horror and sci-fi movies, so anything to do with that I was pretty interested in. The first season I was pretty much all over the place in every episode, sometimes in front of the camera, sometimes in the back," Charpentier said.
He explained that the closer he got to the front, the more zombie makeup effects were called for.
"Sometimes they just need (background) filler, so we have some of the zombies that are in less extensive makeup, and then we have those in the front that are more gory and have more decaying detail to them."
While the show has been his only acting experience so far, Charpentier says he learned a lot about TV show production, theater and acting.
"I also learned a lot of real-life skills such as talking to people and how to handle certain situations that some people can find a little off-putting, like being around celebrities and crew. I learned from the crew how to gauge such situations."
The RV Walker — which Charpentier is best known for, and his favorite to portray — died permanently in season two when a character stabbed him in the eye with a screwdriver.
"That one was just so involved and so tedious I loved working on it," he said. It took three and a half hours in a makeup chair, and all the starts and stops of filming required for the scene. That particular zombie has lurched into show merchandise doll heaven, sometimes with an embedded screwdriver in its eye, sometimes without.
When asked about his favorite character on the show, though, Charpentier said, "Maggie. She is Herschel's daughter and she is one of the ones that they stumble upon at the farmhouse."
He said she starts out as a shy, protected person and gradually comes into her own as the show progresses.
One of the things that surprised him the most about acting on "The Walking Dead" was how easy it was.
"It really didn't seem like I was working. It was more like I was goofing around with my friends on my off time just having a blast, so that was probably the most surprising."