Warm Bodies Director Jonathan Levine On Zombies, Humor, Music And Gore
We see Perry for a quick scene in the trailer. Is his story going to be explored as in depth as we see it in the book?
Levine: Yeah, absolutely. I think, to me, it was really important to stay faithful to those aspects of the book. And when you have an actor as wonderful as Dave Franco, you want to use him as much as possible. So, Perry is definitely a bit character in the film.
As far as the other supporting players, we had Analeigh Tipton and Rob Corddry playing up the humor, we saw that in the trailer. And then on the flip side, there was John Malkovich as Grigio being the severe, serious protector type. How much of their stories - did you develop them further or is it as it's portrayed in the book?
Levine: I think like with everything, we tried to remain faithful to the spirit of the book as much as possible. That said, one of the great things about making a movie and one of the great things about being a director is that you get to interpret the material in ways that sometimes diverge from the book, sometimes amplify what's in the book. So, yes these are all big characters in the movie and they're all true to the spirit of their characters in the book. They may not be exactly the same as they are in the book, but they are certainly true to the spirit of what they were in the book. And I think that everyone who enjoyed these characters in the book is going to like them in the movie. The one common ground that they have is they're all fantastic actors. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with them and I think they all did an amazing job.
Did you work a lot with Isaac Marion when you were doing the screenplay for this?
Levine: I would always go to him to consult with him. It wasn't like we were sitting in the same room writing together. Each kind of successive draft, I would send to him and get his thoughts. To his credit, he was able to give me his broad strokes thoughts without trying to micromanage what I was doing too much. Which I think is really important, whenever you're taking something that's so important to someone and you're kind of running with it. As a director and writer, you need the freedom to be able to go off and do your own thing, a little bit. I had the same experience with Will Reiser on 50/50. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone to not micromanage them. I think both of those guys, to their credit, gave me the freedom I needed to do my job as best I could. And they trusted me. And they trusted that I would be respectful to the stories that were so important to them. In Will's case, it was his own story. It was his words and his own life. And in Isaac's case, it's something that is so borne of his imagination and so close to him. I'm incredibly grateful that they granted me that freedom to interpret their vision. But yeah, I would show him stuff all the time.
One of the things I really love about the book is, you kind of get the sense that where humanity is, they're kind of on their last legs and Julie and R's story feels like the beginning of something, but the book feels self-contained at the same time. With that said, Marion has mentioned recently that he was going to be doing a sequel to the novel. Has there been any talk about a follow-up to the movie?
Levine: No, but I just hope if people go see the movie, I'd be very happy to have that conversation. I always hear about people talk about sequels to movies before they come out. And I'm like, "Why don't you guys just wait and see if anyone likes the fuckin' movie?" So, I'm really, really proud of the movie, and I really think people are going to like it. And I really love what Summit's doing with the marketing. So all of those things to me indicate that we're hopefully going to achieve some success with it. And I loved collaborating with all the guys I worked with on the movie. I love Isaac. I love his writing. So, if all goes well, yeah, totally. But, I'm Jewish and I'm superstitious so I don't get into that.
So you're not thinking that far ahead for now.
Yeah, basically. I think everything's going to be horrible and I just sit in my room and write.
Warm Bodies arrives in theaters February 1. More information, photos and video can be found in our Blend Film Database.
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