Quint chats horror comedies, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and undead Bill Murray with ZOMBIELAND director Ruben Fleischer!
Published at: June 18, 2009, 11:35 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. This was an odd chat… not that Mr. Ruben Fleischer was difficult to talk with. Far from it, actually, but Sony contacted us pretty much out of the blue to talk about a movie that doesn’t come out until the end of the year.
Now, the trailer premiered today and we premiered a few photos last week, but when I did the interview I knew almost nothing about the film, other than it was a horror comedy that was rumored to feature a Zombiefied Bill Murray.
I have since seen the pictures (looked good) and have watched the trailer, which I thought was a glimpse at something that could very well be one of my favorite movies of the year. So keep in mind that when I conducted this brief chat with Mr. Fleischer that I was working off of very little. I think the interview came off well despite my usual ignorance. Hope you enjoy it!
Quint: I guess these things are always a little weird, since I haven’t seen anything from your movie yet, so I’m not exactly sure about everything that we are going to talk about, but I know zombies and amusement park and I think those are two great tastes that should taste great together.
Ruben Fleischer: (laughs) You guys are getting the first look at the photos, right?
Quint: They haven’t told me. They just asked if we wanted to talk to you.
Ruben Fleischer: Okay, great.
Quint: All right, so let’s talk a little bit about the flick. It’s a horror-comedy, yeah?
Ruben Fleischer: It’s a ZomCom!
Quint: All right.
Ruben Fliescher: I like to think of it as MIDNIGHT RUN with zombies, the story of these two unlikely people that go on a road trip together. Woody Harrelson is this zombie-killing badass and then Jesse Eisenberg is this sort of wimpy coward and they have both managed to survive.
It takes place in a post apocalyptic zombie world, so it’s more along the lines of 28 DAYS LATER as opposed to the moment of outbreak. So they are just in this post apocalyptic zombie landscape, they meet up on the road, they end up traveling together and it’s a true buddy comedy with these opposite characters with Woody as our badass zombie killer and Jesse being the opposite, but they both manage to survive because of their unique traits. Like Woody can kill every zombie and Jesse puts together a collection of rules that have allowed him to survive using his smarts and his fear to his advantage.
Quint: Nice! So do they form up a group, like a survivor convoy or is it just these two for the majority of the movie?
Ruben Fleischer: Well, along the way they run across these two girls who are Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone and they kind of go back and forth with these girls for a while and partnering with them and traveling to California to go to this amusement park (called) Pacific Playland.
Quint: And is that where most of the movie takes place?
Ruben Fliescher: No, that’s really just the finale. They get there and that’s where the girls… They have heard that the Playland is a safe haven where there are no zombies, the girls have heard that, and it’s kind of like little Abigail Breslin’s dream to get to go to this place. So her sister is taking her there and once they get there they find out whether or not it’s truly a safe haven.
Quint: What are you going for in terms of intensity? Is this going to be gory? Is it going to be… Are there going to be real scares in there or is it going to be played mostly for laughs?
Ruben Fleischer: I tried to balance the two and keep it scary for a zombie audience, but it’s definitely a comedy first. I’m treating the zombies with respect and keeping them scary and keeping them fast and ferocious and trying to keep the intensity up, but ultimately it’s a buddy comedy first and a horror movie second. I didn’t want to make fun of the zombies or have them be kind of like a joke. They are just a threat, for sure, and we got Tony Gardner, who worked on THRILLER and EVIL DEAD 2 and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, so he’s been doing zombies for a long time and he designed our zombie make up effects and I think they look pretty great.
Quint: That’s really cool. You just named two of probably the only half dozen horror comedies that really work, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2… You’ve got the SHAUN OF THE DEADs, the BRAINDEADs… There are only a few. I think it’s a really tough genre to crack. I’ve seen a lot of people fail either making the whole thing a joke or making it not funny enough, so I imagine it must have been a bit of a tightrope walk for you.
Ruben Fleischer: Yeah, that’s how I would have described it. It’s tough to juggle those two very different tones and also because SHAUN OF THE DEAD is such a great movie and I think works so well, the bar was really high, but the way that we tried to distinguish our movie was by keeping it very grounded and keeping the characters real. It’s tonally a very grounded movie. It’s not too broad and it’s not a parody in any way, it’s just like these character’s experiences, but yeah I think we have a few legitimate scares and the action is awesome, like Woody’s… People are just going to love to see Woody playing this role. It’s so perfect, he really is just so charismatic and funny and really a badass. I feel like people are going to be super psyched on Woody Harrelson after seeing this movie. He’s great, but as far as the tone, it’s a challenge keeping it funny and keeping is scary.
Quint I’ve heard he’s great to work with, that everybody that works with him ends up loving him.
Ruben Fleischer: Yeah, he brought it, but it’s like he hasn’t really starred in a movie in this way for a while and it’s just the role you want to see him play. It’s all of his strengths in one. He’s funny and silly, but still completely the coolest guy you have ever met. His character’s name is Tallahassee and he wears this snakeskin jacket and brandishes machine guns… He’s just awesome.
Quint: Nice! I remember there was a rumor that hit about Bill Murray having a cameo in the movie, is that true?
Ruben Fleischer: I guess you will just have to go see it!
Quint: I’m just saying a zombie Bill Murray would probably make the year of horror geeks… or comedy geeks for that matter, so that’s all I am saying…
Ruben Fleischer : I agree with you.
Quint: Cool, well I don’t know what else we there is to talk about, unless there’s something that you would like to discuss.
Ruben Fleischer: I think we are going the be at Comic-COon and show some stuff which should be fun and…
Quint: I’ll be there. I just locked in my registration before the interview.
Ruben Fleischer: Oh really? Awesome! It should be really just fun and Jesse and Woody and Emma will be there.
I think it’s worth noting Emma… I don’t think people fully appreciate how talented she is and hopefully this movie will just really break her out to a larger audience. She looks amazing and she has a sawed off shotgun and just… She kicks ass and she’s just so great. I think people are really going to be psyched on her and maybe a little surprised to see her in this different light.
Quint: She was in SUPERBAD, yeah?
Ruben Fleischer: Yeah, she’s the girl from SUPERBAD and HOUSE BUNNY and THE GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST, but she just really radiates in this movie. She is really pretty and funny and cool and she just has everything you would hope the girl you meet… like if you were the last guy on earth and you run across a girl, this girl is pretty much every guy’s dream come true.
Ruben Fleischer: The trailer comes out a week from Friday on YEAR ONE, so I think that will really give people a good understanding of what the film is about. It’s just really fun and funny and it’s a fun ride just getting to hang out with these guys and just see what they get up to.
Quint: Fantastic man. I’m really looking forward to seeing the footage. I’m sure I’ll be there in the audience during the Comic-Con presentation and I’m sure one of us from the site will be doing interviews with you guys, o I might have a little bit of a frame of reference and not be such a dull interview the next time around.
Ruben Fleishcer: Well no, I don’t mind and if there’s anything else that you need or think of or if you have any questions about it, I’m fully available. Whatever you need, don’t hesitate to call or email me.
Quint: Alright, cool.
Ruben Fleischer: I’m psyched for you to see stuff, so you can get a better sense of the film.
Quint: I have full faith that the movie will work, this seems right up my alley. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to seeing the footage at Comic-Con.
Ruben Fleischer: Awesome. Thanks, man!
Quint: Alright, bye!
See, got some good nuggets in there. I think his non-answer on the Bill Murray thing is a yes, don’t you? I sure hope so!
Got some stuff coming to you very soon. I just got home from my short trip to LA… The Dick Smith Tribute was awesome, I got to shake Rick Baker’s hand, meet the heads of places like Stan Winston Studios, Spectral Motion and ADI as well as catch up with some of my old friends at KNB.
That report with pics will be hitting tomorrow after I catch a little sleep. Also be on the look-out for my HANGOVER interview with Mike Tyson that has just recently been okayed to run.
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