How Bill Murray Ended Up In Zombieland, According To The Writers

bill murray zombieland

There's nothing like a surprise cameo to really blow moviegoers' minds as they sit in theaters. While certain films can use this device to a fault (we're looking at you Zoolander franchise), it can also truly make a movie when done correctly. Stan Lee kills it with every appearance he makes within Marvel properties, Harold and Kumar had Neil Patrick Harris playing a heinous version of himself, and almost all of This Is the End's cast members were cameos roles. And then there's perhaps the best celebrity cameo in film history: Bill Murray in 2009's Zombieland.

Zombieland was one of the happy surprises of 2009, as a comedy with a fair amount of heart and also tons of good old fashioned zombie killing. Things really got crazy when Bill Murray suddenly appeared as a fictional survivor version of himself. But the question is: how the hell did they book Murray in this role? It turns out it was a mixture of luck and Woody Harrelson that did the trick, according to Zombieland's writers.

We were two days away from shooting the scene. We had written an alternate scene with no celebrity, where they just fought a bunch of zombies in this mansion. Paul, to his great credit, doesn't like to take no for an answer, walked up to Woody Harrelson on the set and said Woody, anyone else, do you have any other ideas? He said two guys. He said Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, and we were like yes, and yes. But Dustin Hoffman couldn't do it, but Bill Murray said send me the script. He doesn't have an email address interestingly, no agent, no manager, it was Woody Harrelson that called him, his buddy.

Way to go, Woody. It looks like he really saved the show in this instance.

This quote comes to us from AMC's Geeking Out, which hosted Zombieland and Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. While appearing on the delightfully nerdy program, host Kevin Smith asked the duo how exactly they landed Bill Murray, to which they responded got the above awesome answer.

Although Bill Murray might not have been Zombieland's first choice for a cameo, I can't imagine any other actor selling it as much as he did. Happy to make fun of himself, Bill gave a delightfully self-deprecating performance which cumulated in a bonkers death scene. Check out that final scene below.

Seriously, no one could pull this off like Bill Murray. And though his cameo must have been a stressful situation for those behind the scenes of Zombieland, it payed off with interest when audiences got to see the glorious cameo in theaters.

Do you think anyone else could have killed it in Bill Murray's cameo role? Let us know in the comments below.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.