In the first seconds of The Walking Dead pilot, "Days Gone By", freshly awakened coma patient Rick Grimes and the viewing audience learn the first brutal rule of a world that's been overrun by a zombie apocalypse.
Rick is approached by an angelic-looking little girl in a nightie and pink bathrobe, clutching a stuffed toy.
As she gets closer, we see her ravaged and rotting mouth. Backing away in fear and revulsion, Rick draws his service revolver and shoots her—literally blowing her out of her bunny slippers.
Addy Miller has the distinction of being the very First Walker(as the show refers to zombies) in the long-running The Walking Dead franchise.
"It's just mindblowing to me to be able to say I was the very first walker on The Walking Dead—I am The Walking Dead," laughs the actress.
"At the time, I had no idea it was such a big deal," Miller says humbly. "The script described it as, 'She turns around and we see she's dead', It also mentioned that she had braces, she's not in a costume, she's DEAD and very hungry', which is exactly how I tried to portray her. I also had a name, 'Summer'."
When the appalled Rick Grimes shoots her, and she falls to the asphalt, "I had a whole lot of padding under my clothes, so when I was shot, I could fall without hurting myself. If I fell and missed the mattress, I still wouldn't injure myself. I trusted them, and I wasn't hurt at all."
Addy's Mom, Jaime Miller, wasn't bothered to see her daughter shot in the head on Walking Dead. "Honestly, no," she smiles.
"I was there, which helped, seeing it step by step. She worked with Steven Ritsy, an excellent stuntman, who showed her how to fall. Steven prepared her when she was shot. We weren't invited to the premiere of the pilot, so we didn't see it until it ran on AMC TV that Halloween night!"
Addy Miller had sympathy for her Walker. "I saw her as an innocent child who died, and now she's trying to survive through the afterlife by eating people. I feel bad for her, trying to eat people with braces on! She's sad and dead."
To prepare for her role, "I had to go to 'zombie school' with (Walking Dead producer/director/FXman) Greg Nicotero. They had these groups of zombies, which they broke into groups depending on how good a zombie you were.
"Luckily, I was asked to be in the first group, who were deemed to be the best zombies. Phew" she laughs. "It was really awkward to walk like a zombie there, plus I was the only kid there, surrounded by all of these adults groaning.
"Outside of me and Sophia (one of the main stars of the show who went zombie later), no one under eighteen was allowed to be a zombie. They didn't think kids could handle it, or would be overwhelmed or scared by it. If I was a few years younger when I first did it, I probably would have been terrified.
"I was ten when I did it. I still watch the show—I'm kind of a nerd for the show! I still get excited when I run into cast members from it."
Being transformed into a zombie was a rigorous experience, "But the prosthetics didn't bother me at all," Miller shrugs.
"It was perfect and went on my face easily. The zombie makeup took two and a half hours to put on. There were a lot of pieces to it, from teeth to face, hands and legs. The contact lenses for my zombie eyes were a little overwhelming, but I tended to enjoy it."
Her zombie sounds were added in post. "While filming, they told me to be silent and dubbed the grunting in later. I didn't get to keep the toy bear I was holding.
"My clothes started out sort of clean, they were pre-stained before I got them, but after that, they did things to age and dirty them up. The clothes were a little stiff at first until I wore them and broke them in during filming."
Ironically, her Little Girl Walker became a popular Walking Dead Halloween costume. "I am more thankful than anything else that AMC brought her out as a Halloween costume and mask. It's really kept her alive—no pun intended—with the fans, especially the younger ones, and I just love seeing people dressed as me at comic conventions and in pictures."
Her big scene was reportedly picked for the opening because Frank Darabont wanted to see if AMC would try to curtail the show's gore and violence and tested that by having the show's hero shoot a little girl zombie. "We filmed it outdoors on a really rainy day, so they had this huge drape over the whole gas station. They made it look sunny in the episode
"I still don't get how big Walking Dead is; I watched the pilot and just thought, 'There's me as a zombie. Oh, I died!' The first night it aired, on Halloween night in America, I didn't expect it to be so huge, it still makes me surprised and happy."
Her status as The Walking Dead's First Walker led to her being immortalized as an action figure—twice!
"I love them both! I loved the first doll of me and was totally surprised by the Funko Pop Mystery Mini Box Figurine.
"The doll looks very much like me as 'The Little Girl Walker.' That full-sized figure even moves and makes noises! The little figurine from Funko you can definitely tell is of my character. It doesn't have a lot of detail, but it's cute. I'm hoping Funko Pop will eventually make me a bobblehead!"
She had a fun first encounter with the show's hero, Rick Grimes(Andrew Lincoln). "When I first met him, I was sitting in a cast chair at the gas station.
"Andrew was hilarious; he just walked over and sat beside me, looked over at me, and said 'I would like to get to know you before I kill you!'
"He said that to me with a Southern accent. What was amazing is once we wrapped shooting for the day, he started talking normally, and I was surprised to find out he was British! I was like, 'Whoa, where did that come from?' I had no idea, hearing him, I thought he was from Atlanta! I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and he even fooled me.
Addy Miller "started out as a child model. I decided to audition for a movie and got the role, that was The Secret Life Of Bees. Since then, no more modeling! I'm Dakota Fanning as a little girl, who kills her mother in that. I did it when I was eight and don't remember too much about it."
She's also in the remake of Plan 9 From Outer Space. "I'm more of a sidekick in that, I'm sort of this weird girl in it with Conrad Brooks, who was in the original Plan 9 in a house overrun by zombies—I just can't get away from zombies!
"I had fun making it. I shot stuff like Ghost Tracks, where I played an undead girl—I'm dead again in that, but this time I'm a ghost. I may be getting typecast," she jokes.
Walking Dead walked her way when "a casting agent from the show saw something I did, brought me in. I had only one audition for it, and here I am!"
Her Walking Dead pilot was written and directed by Frank Darabont, the man behind such classics as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption.
"Frank Darabont was an amazing director. I would work with him again anytime, any day. He was very funny—if he saw something he liked, he would start yelling, celebrating and dancing!
"I will always remember how enthusiastic Frank was! He was great to work with because of how engaging and encouraging he was. Whenever he felt he got the perfect shot, Frank would celebrate by screeching, hollering while dancing on top of his director's chair. Not only did that make me feel good, but it was rewarding for everyone on set to see our hard work paying off.
"On the set, I didn't know how big a director he was. All these people were coming up to me saying, 'Hi, I'm so and so,' so it was a little overwhelming for me at the time. I just went along with it. He introduced himself as 'Frank.' That was it.
"At the end of the day, I realized Frank was 'FRANK DARABONT,' and I had no idea I was working with him! So cool. Before Frank, I had never seen anybody who danced when happy. That was cool."
She was also touched that "Greg Nicotero watched over me like a father on set. He followed me around all day to make sure I was okay, and the makeup was holding up. He made sure people carried me around all day because it was raining, and he wanted to make sure my zombie makeup didn't get wet before I appeared on camera.
"We took pictures of filming that day and showed everybody at home so they wouldn't be disturbed when they saw it. They all teased me, 'Hey Addy, ya looked really good that day!'
"Everyone in the family was excited when I got the part, but my little brothers were scared of zombies. We had friends over when I [learned I] got the part, so we were so happy when I got it, we were jumping around the room while our friends were like 'What's their problem?'"
RETURN OF HER LIVING DEAD!
For The Walking Dead's 100th episode, Greg Nicotero Had a surprise planned--The First Walker's return!
As he had re-created classic zombies on the show, like the poster zombie from Dawn and the split zombie From Return. For the hundredth, he recreated his own work from the pilot.
"Okay, this is a funny story--my Mom got a call from Greg Nicotero himself for me to come back, but he didn't want anyone to know. For the 100th, he wanted to pay tribute to the First Walker.
"He told Mom it had to be kept secret, so she didn't even tell me!. She told me to pack, we're leaving for a trip, but she wouldn't say where. She made it clear that it was something important.
"That wasn't enough to stop my sleuthing skills--I realized in the car that the reason she was being so secretive is because of how 'hush hush' the actual project is. I thought, 'What show is more secretive than The Walking Dead?'
"I correctly guessed that I was coming back to the show, which my Mom happily confirmed.
The show takes secrecy seriously. "We even had to check into the hotel under a fake name," she marvels. "I was kept hidden from everyone, even Andrew Lincoln. We did see Chandler Riggs and his Mom, Gina-Ann, on set and had a great reunion.
"Greg Nicotero was just as wonderful as I remembered him! He's always been a delight to work with because of how much he cares about the craft. He goes over every little detail to make sure everything's up to par and has a great positive attitude. He would regularly check up on me and make sure I was A-OK just like he did when I was a kid, and that meant a lot to me."
Coming back, the actress found it was "great to see everybody again on a show that I had grown up with. I truly felt like I had gone full circle, to come back as a teenager to a show that I did as a child."
"Greg didn't want any chance of my reappearance being leaked. He said it would spoil the whole element of surprise if it were. We didn't even tell my Dad until the day it ran!"
Was it easier being a Walker the second time around? "I definitely feel like both experiences were completely different," Miller confides.
"For the pilot, I was a ten-year-old child, so I had to come in really early to make sure that I was ready to be on set and be comfortable in the makeup.
"Once I got on set that first day shooting the pilot, everything moved quickly. I jumped from wardrobe to the makeup chair and straight to the set with no downtime in between.
"For the one-hundredth episode, I was seventeen, so the adult makeup pieces they already had fit me now. Everything moved a little slower with waiting times between each element which was fine with me because I really wanted to take in the full experience.
"I think I preferred my experience on the pilot because they catered everything to me," she giggles.
The actress is listed on IMDB as playing Barbara in an upcoming remake of Night Of The Living Dead, but "I haven't filmed any of it yet. I did meet Judy O'Dea at a convention, and she's a wonderful lady."
"My film Behind You came out last April. It means a lot to me because it's my first leading lady role, so I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it. If any of your readers have Hulu, I urge them to check it out!"
Meanwhile, the performer is pleased with her place in Walking Dead history.
"I am honored and excited to be the very first Walker on The Walking Dead," Addy Miller declares, "and I would love to come back on the show as a living person!"
The eighth episode of the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead airs October 10 on AMC. Click below to stream: