First, Mazin and Druckmann requested the help of the Naughty Dog artist who designed the original clickers, Hyoung Nam. As the source of the OG horror, Nam had no trouble whipping up a new design for the adaptation: a child clicker, who would play a pivotal role in “Endure and Survive.” He provided the illustration, solidifying the concept and leaving the creators with the unenviable task of finding the perfect actress.

Plenty of audition tapes were received, featuring lots of highly-skilled contortionist kids. But according to Mazin, “[Cowton] was the most terrifying.” It was so creepy that they had no choice but to hire her. Once they married her natural skill with the magic of post-production, poor Kathleen (the Melanie Lynskey character who the clicker eventually feasts on) didn’t stand a chance. Mazin said:

“She’s this beautiful little girl, but […] it’s so creepy how she can move her body like that. And so, it was a combination of her performance, and then Wētā kind of creating, taking, drafting off of what Barrie Gower had created with prosthetics, and then making this little girl. And I insisted that our child clicker wear a ‘Blue’s Clues’ shirt because I’m really sick, and I just loved the contrast of innocence and horror.”

How exactly does one audition to be a child fungus zombie? “Please show me how you would bite into Kathleen’s flesh?” Or maybe, “Slide into this car window but make sure to give me nightmares while doing it.”