A Man Posed As a Dead Body on TikTok and Landed a CSI TV Gig



  • Josh Nalley has been playing a dead body on TikTok for a year in the hopes of landing a TV role.
  • He’s posted over 350 videos and commenters have helped tag film studios. In July, he filmed with “CSI.”
  • Nalley doesn’t fancy himself as an actor. This felt like his ticket to the big screen “without having to do much work.”

Josh Nalley, a 42-year-old restaurant manager in Kentucky, has been playing dead on TikTok for a year in a relentless — though relatively low-key effort — pursuit of a TV role.

In late July, his dreams of playing dead came true: CBS offered him a role as a corpse on “CSI: Las Vegas.”

Nalley’s TikToks, which have racked up as many as 5.8 million views, are like a macabre version of Norwegian “slow TV.” The camera rolls (held by a friend or, most often, propped against something nearby), and for about 10 seconds, Nalley lies sprawled across the floor of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Hollywood museum or an abandoned road, or lays face down in the snow or a stream as his foxhounds — perfectly, cinematically melancholy by nature — sniff him curiously.

More than 300 days since he began posting, CBS contacted Nalley to tell him they’d seen his videos on their For You Page and offered him a role on “CSI: Las Vegas.” So, Nalley took a vacation from his day job, and the CSI social media team flew him to sunny California for four days.

On set, Nalley spent a couple of hours in a makeup chair so they could “make me look more dead than I look naturally” he told Insider.

For his big screen debut, Nalley was instructed to lay dead-still on a gurney. He admits that “laying still in the same place for five hours” was the most challenging part but Nalley’s had ample practice for the role. Over time, he’s perfected his trade — learning how to hold his breath for longer.

Nalley, who doesn’t fancy himself an actor, told Insider that playing dead online seemed like “the easiest way to get into a movie without actually having to do much work.” Most of Nalley’s artistic challenges over the course of filming more than 350 videos have been finding new places to pretend to be dead without alarming other people — he doesn’t “ever want to be the cause of someone’s concern,” he explained — or preventing his dogs from licking the fake blood off of him.

Nalley’s TikTok account @living_dead_josh has evolved into a scrappy group project for his 115,000 followers. Nalley finds new places to lay as still as possible, and commenters tag directors and film studios, sometimes daily, in the hopes of landing him a Hollywood role. He says the support from all kinds of people has been “amazing.”

Josh Nalley playing dead on Hollywood stars

Josh Nalley playing dead on the Walk of Fame stars.

Josh Nalley



Now that he’s achieved his pie-in-the-sky goal, Nalley’s not sure what his TikTok’s future will be. He hasn’t planned that far ahead yet. For now, he’s looking forward to watching his first on-screen role, which airs on November 3 at 10 PM on CBS.

Read more: The TikToker who went viral for skateboarding while drinking cranberry juice and lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac has parlayed his fame into an acting gig on a popular Hulu show

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