In all of the clips I’ve seen of this, including this, Brad Pitt has not been doing any of the killing. Does he get involved in the killing at some point?
Yes. Yes. [Laughs]
And how many zombie actors did you use?
It depends. Sometimes up to a hundred zombie actors to have like and in some of the crowd scenes, like 50 with excellent makeup up at front and 50 with, you know, sort of a B-group with, where they’re sort of background, but usually 100 people, because it takes a long time in makeup. Sometimes people have to be there at 3am for us to be ready to shoot at 8 or 9.
The woman that plays the wife of Brad Pitt, will she have a bigger role, than kind of the helpless wife?
Yes, she is like basically, she is stuck on the ship when he leaves, but we’re always coming back to her, but I wouldn’t call her the helpless wife. I don’t think that’s the definition.
I saw her kick the zombie in the face in the beginning, so I figured...
No, she gets more active as well.
Quantum of Solace was a pretty big movie and this one looks like way, way bigger. What kinds of challenges does that present?
It’s a very different thing. In Quantum, you’re dealing with a genre, it was a film that has existed over many years and here you’re dealing with a genre which has been done many times, but you’re trying to find a way in that’s still new and fresh and different, that you don’t repeat what other people have done and have a new perspective to it and I think in this one, what was really great about this film is it’s a global epidemic. You can make a global film, which affects so many countries and affects sort of this worldwide epidemic, but it has, zombies are great metaphors for the times we live in today and that’s what I always find fascinating about them, but then it’s like the walking dead, you know, the unconscious, and the metaphors for them are just really something I was inspired by.
What did Brad bring to the role and how did you work with him to kind of craft the character and his viewpoint?
You know, Brad and his company, Plan B, bought the book and developed a screenplay before I got involved and he was always very hands on in developing it and working with it and he’s an iconic movie star who has made such smart choices throughout his career and has such amazing tastes. For me it was really a fantastic collaboration working with him because we share a lot of similar sensibilities and developing this was just incredible, a lot of fun, because I never worked with an actor who was also a producer and it worked out really, really positively and so I enjoyed the process tremendously.
The book has a reputation for being more reflective and everything we’ve seen here, seems pretty brisk and fast. Does the movie ever sort of take a break to absorb more of those elements of the book?
Yes, it does take a break and become more reflective. It’s not what you guys saw here.
How are you able to use the public perceptions of zombies as a sort of starting point, where you don’t have to say, “Well this is what zombies are and this is how they work.”
I think there are all different kinds of zombies and lots of people who prefer slow zombies versus fast zombies and vice versa and so on. So, I think there’s a whole debate there and as you will see in our film, how the story unfolds, that there is, you can get a taste of both, but you have to see the entire piece.
One of the most popular TV shows right now is The Walking Dead, which is extremely violent. Are you concerned that going for a PG-13 is going to make it a little tame compared to what people expect from weekly TV viewing of zombies?
No, because our zombies, we approach them in a different way. I consciously designed the film in that way and so I think we will overcome that.
Given the length of the production process, having to rewrite, reshoot, and all of that kind of that stuff, I’m just curious, how do you kind of keep it fresh for yourself?
No, I think you’re always, to me at least, I always try to stay objective, and to remove myself from the process and look at the film again. I must say it was really refreshing and actually a great thing that we redid the ending, because I must say I never did that with any of my other movies so far, but I realized that a lot of the great directors that I admire from [Ingmar] Bergman to [Fredrico] Fellini are always shooting, then going into the editing room, and shooting again. Sort of this process back and forth and I think that was a really great thing that we were able to do that and that the studio allowed us to do that, because I think it made the movie better and I think that sort of gave us a different reflection of it. Because when you’re really in it and sometimes doing it, sometimes it gets so overwhelming that you might, for a moment, have to take a step back and see, “Oh what did I do,” and see how it feels altogether.
It seems like some of the more modern zombie movies have shied away from the actual term – in some instances calling it the “z word.” Is there a challenge to reclaim the word and avoid the sort of campy aspects to what we think of?
Yeah, I mean, that idea is that how I conceived the film, and how I felt the book was as well. The film should feel very real, that it could happen right now in the world we live in and to make it as real as possible and sort of create that, because I didn’t want it to feel camp. I wanted it to feel very real, that it could happen actually to us today.