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Fallout’s Costume Designer on Creating Its Ghoulish Characters

Walton Goggins as The Ghoul in Fallout.

Image: Prime Video

Fallout’s a pretty good show, and one of the big reasons why is the ever-reliable Walton Goggins. As the Ghoul—or Cooper Howard, once upon a time—he’s a menace to Lucy and everyone else throughout the season, while being enjoyable to watch both in the irradiated present and the pre-nuclear past. Creating him and others like him took some time, partially because they are and aren’t like anything else you’ve seen before on TV.

Talking to Polygon, associate costume designer Amy Westcot explained how the costuming team concepted different “ghoulness” stages, of which there are “so many different degrees.” In the games, ghouls can exist as an average person with the right meds, otherwise they become Feral and attack basically anything that moves. They’re that world’s zombie equivalent, just in two different flavors where one is “kind of on their way out” and considerably deadlier. But watching ghouls go from normal to Feral isn’t a pleasant experience, one the show’s creators clearly wanted to make as clear as possible.

For the show, keeping the ghouls in a mostly human state was “super important,” particularly as it pertains to their humanity. Westcott revealed the costuming department worked hard with the textile team to make sure they looked right for their age while still garnering sympathy from the audience. “These were people once, and that was important to remember—even the Feral ghouls,” she noted. “They were supposed to be in rags, but…you get some remnant that they were a person once, and I think that we all empathize with them as well.”

In the case of the Ghoul, Westcott said that he couldn’t help but be the least grotesque of the bunch we see. Throughout the season, we see him guzzle down those aforementioned meds, which enable him to “still [have] his wits about him” and stand out from the other ghouls. He’s not fully one way or the other, but it was vital to have him seem like a regular (albeit irradiated) person while also “at a stage of ghoulness, [he just] couldn’t be Feral.” With a second season in the cards, it may be that he ends up sliding closer into Feral territory.

The first season of Fallout is fully available to watch over on Prime Video.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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