The Big Picture

  • The appearance of Walton Goggins’ character as a ghoul in the
    adaptation was intentional to retain his humanity.
  • Fallout
    creator Jonathan Nolan chose Goggins for the role specifically to show some aspect of his face while acting.
  • Goggins’ immersive performance in
    showcases his ability to emote, providing viewers with a tragic portrayal of his character.

While Fallout fans exited the Vault in droves to catch the adaptation of their favorite game, some noted deviations from the source material. But as costume designer Amy Westcott told Polygon, there was a specific reason for some of them. The most apparent was the appearance of Walton Goggin’s character, Cooper Howard, who becomes a sentient ghoul after nuclear bombs turn America into a wasteland. As opposed to many of his game counterparts, Coop retains his humanity and doesn’t maintain the zombie aesthetic game fans are used to.

“I think the only reason that he was downplayed in terms of being more grotesque was because he still had his wits about him,” Westcott said. “When you get to those ghouls that are really, really gross, they were really losing their minds. So I think to keep Walton as a central character — in terms of him being still with us, so to speak — it was imperative to see him at a stage of ghoulness, not all the way gone. You know, he couldn’t be feral.”

Humanity is at the center of Fallout, a theme that Westcott was highly aware of when designing the concept of Goggins’ ghoul. As soon as Lucy (Ella Purnell) exits the Vault, her optimism is immediately confronted. The world isn’t what she thought it was, and the Ghoul goes on later to remind her of this. The Wasteland takes everything from those still living. Even so, Coop still has some remnants of his former self. And that is what is at the heart of the character. Westcott wanted to make sure that viewers were able to empathize with him, even at the end of the world. This also was not lost on Goggins, who readily agreed that his character should remain — for lack of a better term — sexy.

The Ghoul Is Still A Person In ‘Fallout’

Though irradiated by nuclear waste, Coop is still a person. He has human drives, which he vocalizes in the Fallout finale. The drive to find his family. There is a reason why Fallout creator Jonathan Nolan cast Goggins, and it is the very reason it was important to show some aspect of his face while acting. When hiring Goggins for any role, he gives it 100%. The actor told Collider in a separate interview that being able to see him even fractionally was essential.

“For all of us, it was very important that you see me and that the pieces would be thin enough where I could not think about conveying feeling or thoughts to another person. At one point, we were gonna use contact lenses, and we did on the very first day, much to my dismay because those things freak me out. I put them in and stood up, and I couldn’t really see with them.”

Ultimately, Nolan decided that Goggins’ eyes were the most important to see, as they offer a window to the soul. From the onset, the Ghoul may seem cold, but it is because he is reacting from a very human place. Seeing Coop emote is the only way to get the tragedy of his character across. And by all accounts, Goggins was more than successful. Viewers can see the actor’s immersive performance in Fallout by streaming all eight episodes on Prime Video.

Fallout TV Show New Poster


In a future, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles brought about by nuclear decimation, citizens must live in underground bunkers to protect themselves from radiation, mutants and bandits.

Main Genre

Graham Wagner , Geneva Robertson-Dworet

Lisa Joy, Jonathan Nolan

Streaming Service(s)
Prime Video

Watch on Prime Video

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