'Santa Clarita Diet' actor gains a role by losing his head

Nathan Fillion explains why being a disembodied head in season 2 of Netflix's dark comedy "Santa Clarita Diet" was so much fun.

Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read

Where do you keep a disembodied head? In a basement cupboard, of course.

Screenshot by CNET

The hilarious zombie series "Santa Clarita Diet" stars Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant as a married couple who must grapple with the usual problems that occur when humans are on the menu. Barrymore's character, Sheila, is undead and has a difficult time hindering her hunger for human flesh. 

So her family, including husband Joel, helps hide her diet from friends, co-workers and neighbors.

The show's latest break-out star, Nathan Fillion, is using his head to become a new fan favorite in the second season, which debuted last week.

Fillion, best known for his leading roles in murder-mystery dramedy "Castle" and sci-fi western "Firefly," plays a creepy real-estate agent named Gary who gets eaten by Sheila.

But when Joel forgets to destroy Gary's remains, he returns in season 2 as a disembodied head. Gary's head doles out valuable advice and serves as a makeshift friend to Joel, who really needs someone to talk to. 

The usual BFFs even binge-watch TV together. Hey, it's not easy making friends when you're married to a zombie. 

"Joel doesn't have a shoulder to cry on, and as the series would have it, he still doesn't," Fillion told Vulture this week. "Hey folks, it's another severed head joke!"

The scenes with Gary weren't easy to film, but Fillion was up to the challenge. To capture the hilarious moments with Gary's severed head, "half the scene was filmed with a fake head, and then my head on a scaffold thing," Fillion said. "I didn't move. Oh, my God, I realized how much I move my head, even just slightly, while I act."

To see Gary the head in action, watch the "Santa Clarita Diet" trailer for season 2 where he makes a brief but funny appearance at the end. 

Fillion had so much fun playing a disembodied head that he's not ruling out a Gary spin-off show. He even has a few show title suggestions like "Quit While You're a Head" and "The Road Ahead."

If Netflix doesn't make this happen, heads could roll. 

Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here's your place for the lighter side of tech.

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.