- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “TWD: World Beyond” season two premiere.
- Nico Tortorella’s character Felix has a large blackout tattoo to cover their real-life tats.
- Showrunner Matt Negrete tells Insider how they came up with the blackout idea.
Nico Tortorella’s character has a massive blackout tattoo on “TWD: World Beyond.”
Although we’ve seen it before on season one, on Sunday’s season two premiere, Felix removes his shirt to reveal the black ink again, which runs up the length of his left arm and partially onto his chest.
In real life, Tortorella has dozens of tattoos, but a blackout tat isn’t among them.
Felix’s ink on the show was the result of a series of conversations showrunner Matt Negrete and “TWD” universe chief Scott M. Gimple had with Tortorella.
“It started off as mostly a practical conversation because Nico has a lot of tattoos,” Negrete told Insider of the process of coming up with Felix’s very large tattoo on the “Walking Dead” spinoff.
In 2017, Tortorella told Today Style they have “too many [tattoos] to count.” Most recently, they acquired an elaborate tattoo that runs from the back of his neck all the way down to his heel.
Originally, Negrete considered embracing and incorporating Tortorella’s wide array of tats onto the show. Ultimately, Negrete didn’t think it would make sense with Felix’s character background.
“My first instinct was, ‘Let’s embrace them,'” Negrete said. “But the more you kind of get a closer look at them, those specific tattoos didn’t feel like the kind of tattoos you’d get in the apocalypse. Some of them were of Niko’s grandparents.”
“Felix is someone … who’s very much separate from his family, whose family chose not to embrace him,” Negrete continued. “So it felt weird that after the apocalypse here was this guy who decided to immortalize his family on his arm.”
Through season one flashbacks, viewers learn Felix’s father failed to accept his sexuality and, upon discovering private correspondences with a boyfriend, disowned him. At the start of the apocalypse, when Felix attempted to return home, they rejected him once again.
Before landing on a blackout tattoo, the show first tried covering up Tortorella’s many arm tats.
“We tried covering it up and it just seemed like there’s so much to cover up,” Negrete said, turning to Tortorella. “When we’re asking actors to do something with their bodies, it’s a very personal thing. These tattoos are also very personal to Nico. I definitely wanted Nico’s input at the same time.”
The two started brainstorming other ways they could creatively cover up Tortorella’s ink.
“I forget exactly how this came up; the idea of just a blackout tattoo that would just be a whole arm that’s essentially a long sleeve. It’s just black,” Negrete said, adding that the thing they liked about the sleeve was that it felt like a reflection of Felix’s character.
“We leaned into it a bit in season one where he talks about [how] he’s lost so many people and every time he kind of loses someone or something or a part of himself, it sort of became this tattoo that became this long blackout tattoo,” Negrete said of the ink’s meaning, which is discussed on the show’s fourth episode, “The Wrong End of a Telescope.”
Negrete added, “It really was this sort of dark solemn thing that he carried with him at all times to always remember the people he’s lost and the things he’s lost in the apocalypse. Everyone has lost something. That’s just Felix’s way of honoring everyone from his past that’s no longer with him that he cared about at one time.”
You can follow along with our “The Walking Dead” coverage here. “TWD: World Beyond” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on AMC. New episodes stream a week early on AMC+.