How The Bloater from 'The Last of Us' Built His Body

How The Bloater from ‘The Last of Us’ Built His Body

Inside the 40kg suit is a 100kg stuntman named Adam Basil. We spoke to him about everything from training and diet to what he makes of his new-found big daddy Bloater status.

By now you know the drill. An episode of the cultural phenomenon The Last of Us drops, it receives universal acclaim, and we wait a week until the next episode is released and more acclaim naturally follows. 

Except after episode 5 of the show – called ‘Endure and Survive’ – something else happened too. After that episode, entertainment site Variety published an article called Making the Bloater: ‘The Last of Us’ Prosthetics Designer Used a Slimy, 80-Pound Suit and Massive Stuntman to Create the Deadly MonsterAnd with that a freaky, fungus-covered star was born.

The Bloater is essentially a boss-level, super-strong infected person whose entire body has been transformed by the Cordyceps fungus. The ‘massive stuntman’, meanwhile, is actually 6ft4, 240lbs, London-based performer Adam Basil. Having played Venom, The Beast from Beauty and The Beast and Baloo in The Jungle Book – a role which he admits wasn’t quite as cool – he’s a dab hand at these kind of creature roles. But nothing has taken off in quite the way his version of The Bloater has.

In the past week, Basil has answered questions on everything from when exactly we’ll see the Bloater again to how he’s adjusting to his new ‘big daddy Bloater’ status.

Now, Men’s Health has spoken to Basil from his London home to find out about his role on the show and how exactly he went about building the Bloater’s body.

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains minor spoilers from episode 5 of “The Last of Us”.

Men’s Health: Hey Adam, so tell us how you came to play The Bloater on The Last of Us? 

Adam Basil: I worked with Barrie Gower [The Last of Us’ prosthetics designer] on Game of Thrones. He worked in creature effects, who made the monsters, so they made the White Walkers. He needed someone of a ‘specific height, weight and girth’ – those are his words – and that’s how I got involved in the show. 

Do you know exactly who you’re playing? What exactly is a Bloater?

I do now. Apparently, their bodies were too powerful to be completely overpowered by the fungus. I think that’s right.

It sounds right.

I think they’ve evolved, so they can’t be taken down by bullets.

Tell us what it’s like being in the costume?

The costume is made from a combination of foam, rubber and latex, and it weighed about 88lbs, so it’s heavy, and that’s where the training comes in. I remember when I got cast in Beauty and the Beast, they said, ‘Adam, you need to bulk up because of the weight of the costume. You’re locked into this thing, and your body’s working. For all those roles, they’ll say bulk up for it and put on some weight. I’ve always had that mentality when I go into these creature roles.

So, did you bulk up for this one then?

Yeah, I put on about 6lbs or something like that. But you put on a bit of weight and then because your cardio is very high, you just naturally cut weight throughout the shoot.

How did people react to you in the costume?

It made me laugh because when you’re in these suits you’re quite scary to kids, and they don’t know there’s a human being in there. When I met Keivonn Woodard [who played Sam in episode 5], it was a case of take the head off, so he can meet Adam and go, ‘Okay, it’s just a guy’ because they’re so realistic these things. They cover it in slime, fake blood and goo on top of everything. 

I played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and they did the same thing. For that, I had to work very closely with horses, so I’m dressed as this huge creature, and of course the horses think there’s a huge predator coming towards it. I met the horse and stroked it, but the costume created static, so every time I touched the horse I electrocuted it. It had the opposite effect.

We know you mentioned bulking up for the role, but did you do any other prep for it?

Yeah, for my physical training, I worked with a UFC veteran to get my cardio up, his name is Jess Liaudin. I also upped my calories massively for it, as well as lifting more weights.

We guess you have to increase your calories and strength training to fit into the suit, but what was the thinking behind increasing your cardio? 

We’d have some really hard cardio days because takes are short. When you’re filming, it can be a minute-long take. On Star Wars, I was playing a Storm Trooper, you have limited visibility and you’re circularly breathing, so a take might be 15 seconds, but it’s interval style training. It’s that style of cardio. But you have to have endurance on top to last a 12-hour shoot, but it’s also that explosive energy, explosive cardio. You have to be an all-around athlete. You have to have the mass. You have to have good cardio and you have to have good endurance.

So what’s it like to be part of this massive TV show?

It’s incredible. It’s funny because I’ve done a lot of stuff, and this is the one that’s blown up. I’ve done about 100 movies and TV shows: James Bond, Venom, The Beast and all this other stuff, but this is the one that’s got me the most attention. You just don’t expect these things. I mean people are fantasising about this creature.

What have you made of people fantasising about it?

I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. I guess it’s like the big boss, big daddy. Somebody needs to write a paper on it. People need to discuss this.

What are you working on right now?

I’m in Django at the moment, a new TV series. I’m a guest lead for two episodes and that was my first Western. I play a character called The Giant, this mean cowboy.

How do you feel getting brought onto these shows for your ‘height, weight and girth’? 

I’m used to it. When I was a kid, I was the bigger one. I’m used to having trousers that don’t quite fit me. I guess people expect you to be a certain way and when you’re not and you’re like ‘Hello, how are you?’ They’re like, ‘oh, I thought you were going to tear my head off.’

You played The Mountain on Game of Thrones too, right?

I doubled The Mountain and The Hound. I remember trying on The Mountain [Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson]’s body armour. At the time I was punching 200 kilos, so I was in pretty good nick. But I was still 90 kilos lighter than him. I put on his chest plate, he had a 60-inch chest at the time, and I was just like, I’m not an actual man. It’s like putting your dad’s suit on when you’re six years old and the arms are down to your knees. The guy’s huge, really huge, but a really good guy. I worked with him again on The Northman. He’d dropped 40 kilos because he just started doing his boxing, but he was still like a different species. I think I’m borderline, but I’m with our species. There’s a species above and he’s one of those.

So even you look at Thor and think ‘Wow, you’re massive’?

Yeah, like ‘you’re massive’. Everything’s just different about him, but such a nice guy. And he can run as well, it’s not like he’s limited to just powerlifting. On The Northman they were playing this violent hockey match, and he was sprinting up and down. When he goes, it’s quite hard to keep up with him.

You’re a professional stuntman, right? So what work do you do to prepare for your job?

I’m a big faster, so I have about 4500 calories per day, but I’ll eat them between 2pm and 9pm at night. I cycle fasted to the gym, which is about a 5-mile ride from my house. I train with Jess for about an hour, hour and a half and when I cycle home, I’ll start eating. In the gym I usually do high cardio, heavy weights – eight to 12 reps.

Do you watch The Last of Us, and are you watching week by week or have you seen the whole thing?

I’m an episode behind, I’ve still got to watch episode six. On Game of Thrones, they would show you pre-visualisation, so when you arrive they go okay, this is what you’ll be shooting, and literally show you a computer animation of the scene you’re going to shoot, so straight away if you love the TV series, you’ve seen the episode before it’s been made. I remember they said ‘Adam, you’re going to throw a spear in the dragon, which is going to smash it through the eyes and kill it. I was like ‘they kill a dragon. How can this be?’ There were so many spoilers in that, but for The Last of Us, I don’t know anything.

Do you know if we expect to more from the Bloater from future episodes?

He went off into the night, and he wasn’t taken down, so who knows.

Via Men’s Health UK.

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