ZOMBIELAND is director Ruben Fleischer's first feature film...I almost hesitate to write that. The truth is, if you didn't know that going in, you certainly wouldn't know it going out. The film is a genre-busting buddy comedy/zombie flick with a splash of road trip. It's also got a cameo people will be talking about for weeks. I just got a few minutes to speak to Fleischer about the film, who he wanted to see cast, having the writers on set everyday and the zombie training video that the extras has to watch. I asked him if that was going to be on the DVD and he said he hadn't thought about it. You're welcome.
Director Ruben Fleischer
This movie is really a genre buster. Was that something you wanted to do?
Yeah, I mean, that was what excited me about it. But it was written that way. I can't take credit for it. It was a very dynamic script that covered a lot of different genres since it's inception. But as a director, especially a first time director, I was excited to experiment with a lot of different genres and not just do a straight comedy or a romantic comedy...this is action, horror, a road movie, a buddy comedy, you name it. It has so many different aspects to it.
Did you have an idea of who you wanted to cast right away? Because, for a first time director, you have some heavy hitters. You've got Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, the cameo with I'm told you can't even talk about...
Yeah. Certainly for Woody and Abby, those two were two off the bat people I was dreaming and hoping to get to work with, and then Jesse (Eisenberg) and Emma (Stone) were two that I was fans of for a long time and thought were great. But that was more of a traditional audition process.
I just spoke with Emma and she said you're not allowed to talk about the cameo, but the info is out there on the web...are we allowed to say his name?
Not if this is going to run before the movie opens.
Well, then I'll just say that this is the coolest cameo ever.
You can imagine how excited I was...I could hardly believe it.
The writers (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) were on set with you every day. Some directors love that and some hate it. How was that experience for you?
During the script development process, I definitely changed it a lot, but I worked very closely in collaboration with Rhett and Paul. So we had a real shorthand and trust that was built up. With my commercial background where the copywriter and art director are there the whole time, I'm really comfortable with that dynamic where the people who conceived the idea are there.
They told me you wanted them to play zombies, but they were freaked out by all the goo.
Yeah, I was pissed actually. But Rhett makes a cameo shooting an AK47 in the opening sequence...which I think is pretty cool. But I wish Paul had been a zombie in the same shot.
Your approach to zombie mythology is a little different...what sort of things did you have input on?
The way we represented them, whether it be the aesthetic of the disease...we did a lot of research on real diseases like ebola and syphilis and some other really disgusting viral based diseases. We wanted the zombies to kind of look authentic. I worked really hard with a bunch of the extras to kind of define what zombies would move like. And we did a training video that everyone who was cast as an extra in the movie would have to watch so they were all kind of moving the same way.
Oh, please tell me that's going to be on the DVD.
I hadn't even thought about it but that's probably a good idea. [laughs]
This film is getting some serious buzz. Would you be willing to do a sequel?
Oh yes, in a heartbeat.
ZOMBIELAND opens October 2nd