You wouldn’t think it would be too hard to play a member of the walking dead. You slap on some make-up, stumble a bit, and let out the occasional groan. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it wasn’t enough for Rob Corddry. Who stars as a zombie in the new movie Warm Bodies. Inspired by a script he loved and a real desire to nail his audition, he took it to a completely new level – by actually researching and learning about brain damage patients.
And that’s just one of the things that I recently had the chance to chat with the comedian about while attending a recent press event for the new zom-rom-com in Los Angeles. Check out the interview below, as Corddry discusses not only his role in Warm Bodies, but how writing has changed the way he reads scripts, why he has no desire to ever become a director, and his experience working with director Jonathan Levine, who he calls one of the best filmmakers he has worked with.
How did you come across this film? Was it something that you pursued or did it come to you?
I definitely went after it in that…I was not in their plan at all. But my agents were on it and they sent me the script and I loved it and I worked very hard at the audition. I really, really prepared.
What was it about the script in particular that you liked so much?
I’ve never seen anything like it before! Apart from being perfect story-wise – it had all that already – it was just very, very uncommon. Somebody said to me, “You always play best friends, is that boring?” And I’m like, “No!” What, are you kidding me? I will play shades of that character forever – and then I was handed probably the weirdest shade of that yet [laughs]. So that was a real thrill too.
How do you prepare for an audition for a role as a zombie?
Well, my wife works with brain injured patients as a speech pathologist, so I asked her a lot of questions about brain injuries and read a little bit about brain injuries, and tried to imagine that I was maybe not quite fully conscious, but that I had a lot that I wanted to express, but the synapses between creation and mouth were just not really there. Which is the way I think about it. And it worked! It really, really worked. There are just some things that make you think of something, and then you do stuff out of habit- - which I really love, that idea in the film. So that was my preparation, basically.
You mentioned how much you loved the script, but when I meet actors who also write I’m always curious if they perceive or read scripts differently than if they were just looking at it from an actor’s perspective. Since you started working has the way you read scripts changed?
Yes I do! Before I was writing as much as I do now I would read them and be very confused, first of all, and just try and kind of go with my gut. And then I would have to talk it over with people. Why am I responding to this? Why am I not? It would more be about like, “This dialogue is clunky.” That’s the only language I had. But as I get to learn more about writing it’s so much easier. It’s so much easier to know if you like something or not! Things can have good and bad parts and still not be something you respond to.
So would you say that since you started writing Children’s Hospital it’s had an effect on the types of projects you’ve been choosing?
Yeah, I guess. I don’t know. It’s made me more aware in general, I think, just understanding story and structure and from an acting point of view and from a writing point of view, and from a reading point of view… I don’t know if it’s affected what I’ve chosen. But it’s definitely like…I’m starting a company with my brother and we’re choosing scripts now that we want to develop and produce. That’s really where the skill, I think, and the fun of it comes in.
And you do go back and forth between film and television a lot and obviously they’re two very different mediums, but what do you find that each one offers and do you prefer one over the other?
No, I don’t really have a preference. I guess the reason I’m able to flip back and forth is cause I don’t have a regular job [laughs]. If I was on a TV show that shot nine months out of the year it would be a lot harder. But it allows me a lot of freedom. I can’t even say it’s about money either, because I’m definitely one of those guys they know they don’t have to pay a lot [laughs]. So that’s always kind of a crapshoot. Children’s Hospital is shot a lot like a movie. We get together for a little over a month. So I really enjoy that. I really enjoy being on a location. So I’d have to say that movies or that kind of thing, of which Children’s Hospital is a part, it feels more special for some reason. But it of course varies from project to project.