Guy achieves dream of playing a corpse on TV after playing a corpse on TikTok for a year

A CSI: Vegas screenshot that shows the kind of acting that Nalley had to live up to.
A CSI: Vegas screenshot that shows the kind of acting that Nalley had to live up to.

Josh Nalley, a 42-year-old from Kentucky, has long cherished a show business dream: Playing a corpse in a movie or TV show. Rather than just lie around waiting for this opportunity to come to him, Nalley went out there and got to work becoming the most noticeable motionless body around. Now, after posting about 200 TikTok videos showing what a talented corpse actor he is, Nalley’s been recognized for his skills and appeared on CSI: Vegas in his role of choice.


The New York Times’ Remy Tumin looked into how Nalley got his big break, writing that he’s spent the last year posting a daily pretend-corpse TikTok video of himself as a kind of living resume. In one, he lies slumped forward in front of a park bench. In another, he’s propped up against the wall of a building. Nalley practices his craft all year round, even in the depths of winter.

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He told the Times that the idea came about while “trying to figure out what I could do to get on TikTok and maybe get in a movie with as little effort as I thought would be possible.” Nalley honed his process over time, avoiding blood and the use of the term “death” in his videos to minimize the chance that TikTok would slap his limp wrist for violating its terms of service. His approach to acting, though, remained basically the same. Nalley “takes a couple of big breaths and then holds his breath for about 25 seconds and tries to sit as still as possible.” Sometimes, his eyes are closed. Sometimes, his eyes are open.


His approach worked well enough that the creators of CSI: Vegas got in touch this summer, casting Nalley as “Body In The Background Of The Morgue” in an episode airing next Thursday, November 3rd. Vegas’ showrunner, Jason Tracey, told the Times that “nobody has done a more thorough job of auditioning for a nonspeaking role, maybe in the history of television.” Nalley announced the good news with a video of him lying dead on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Somehow, despite all of the rehearsal hours he put into the role, Tracey wasn’t completely blown away by Nalley’s performance. “Honestly, I would have liked to see a little less breathing,” he said. “But we can fix that in post.” Still, he and the cast and crew enjoyed having Nalley around instead of a dummy, saying it was “a nice way to keep it light on set that day” and providing some encouragement for all aspiring corpse thespians in the process.

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