More Details Revealed About That Time Patrick Swayze Was Supposed To Be In Zombieland

Patrick Swayze in Road House doing Tai Chi

There is a tremendous amount to love about the original Zombieland, but certainly high on the list of great things is the legendary cameo made by Bill Murray. It truly comes out of left field, and while relatively brief in the grand scheme of things, it's at the center of one of the movie's most hilarious sequences.

What you may not know, though, is that it wasn't always going to be Bill Murray playing that part. Because screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick weren't entirely certain that they would be able to get the actor for the part, they wound up developing many iterations with many different stars. One, for example, was the late, great Patrick Swayze, and now that version of the script has been revealed in full.

It's never been a secret that Patrick Swayze was written into an early Zombieland script, as Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick were talking about the potential cameo even before the movie was released back in 2009, but now we know exactly how the alternate version of things was going to play out. With people worldwide stuck inside during Covid-19-related social distancing/quarantine, the writers have done their part to keep movie-fans entertained by posting actual script pages from the Swayze draft.

Prefacing that the version featured some switched-up characters names, as Tallahassee was originally Albuquerque, Columbus was Flagstaff, and Little Rock was Stillwater (fans will note how that creates a little Easter egg in Zombieland: Double Tap), the first page of the draft once again finds Woody Harrelson's character leading the pack in fandom, expressing that Patrick Swayze was his hero going back to his first time seeing The Outsiders as a kid:

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Unfortunately, we learn on the next couple pages that Tallahassee/Albuquerque's Patrick Swayze worship couldn't outlive the release of Dirty Dancing. The group searches the house to clear it for zombies, with Columbus/Flagstaff pairing off with Little Rock/Stillwater, and Tallahassee/Albuquerque going with Wichita. They each discover that Swayze is a big fan of his own work, while there is some creepiness happening.

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Upon discovering a potter's wheel and some clay, Tallahassee/Albuquerque then gets a special opportunity to reenact a scene from Ghost in Patrick Swayze's house... but things don't exactly go as planned:

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Unlike the Bill Murray version, where it turns out that the Ghostbusters star is only pretending to be undead, Patrick Swayze is actually a zombie in this version of Zombieland. A fight scene breaks out, and it's one that manages to include references to Point Break, Dirty Dancing, City Of Joy, and even Father Hood.

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Sadly, Patrick Swayze became unavailable to do the Zombieland cameo because he became sick, and he died just a few weeks before the release of the horror comedy.

There story doesn't end there, however, as the Patrick Swayze script wasn't the only drafts that Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick put together as a backup plan. The writers have been continuing posting these alternate versions to social media, and you can follow them to see the posts in real-time, but when they are done we'll also have a full round-up for you detailing how Zombieland could have been very different.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.