"How do you want to die today?" That's the first question I was asked when I stepped into the makeup chair to become a dead body on Criminal Minds.
As a viewer of the CBS procedural since its debut in 2005, I jumped at the chance when the show invited me on set to become one of their many casualties. A few weeks and a quick wardrobe change later, I found myself in the chair of department head makeup artist, and a veteran since Season 1, Dayne Johnson.
Since I was a bit thrown by his initial question, Johnson decided my manner of death: I would succumb to a combination of strangling and stab wounds. "Works for me!" I said. Believe me, I got off lightly. The crew told me that in the previous episode, some of the "victims" had to strip down and get wrapped with cellophane out in a field. Yeah, no thanks.
In the end, the process was much quicker than imagined, and before I knew it I was a scary sight to be seen — although a common one on the show's Los Angeles set. I walked onto the stage and into the morgue set where the show's still photographer, Dean Hendler, wasted no time in covering me with a sheet and having me lay still, eyes shut, on the very cold table so he could get the shot. Fortunately my colleague Joyce Eng was there for moral support. It's not easy to play dead!
Click here to see my complete transformation, as well as some of the behind-the-scenes secrets for how it's all done. And tune in to Criminal Minds' milestone 200th episode on Wednesday at 9/8c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)