‘Zombieland’ no joke, according to stars

Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star in this past weekend's highest-grossing movie, Zombieland. The film made $25 million its opening weekend. Courtesy of Steven Rico

Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg star in this past weekend's highest-grossing movie, Zombieland. The film made $25 million its opening weekend. Courtesy of Steven Rico

Chainsaws, pianos, baseball bats and butter knives are just a few of the creative ways that zombies are put out of their misery-threatening ways in Woody Harrelson’s new comedy Zombieland.

It’s a winning formula for the film, which came in first at the box office this weekend.

Even though the flick won’t woo the Academy, Harrelson and co-star Jesse Eisenberg say Zombieland is no joke.

The Miami Hurricane recently sat down with the co-stars during a promotional stop in Miami to discuss all things – you guessed it! – zombies.

The Miami Hurricane: Woody, I understand that you were the first choice for this film. How did you react when you were approached about a film about zombies?

Woody Harrelson: I remember having a little bag with five scripts in it. The one I looked at last was this – just because I thought, “Zombieland? That’s going to be stupid.” Now people out there are going to be upset with me. But then I read it and I loved it. I just thought it was hysterical, great writing.

Jesse Eisenberg: I had the exact same reaction. As an actor, you don’t think a zombie movie will have the best characters. And when I read it, I [thought]it [had]by far the best characters I’ve read in the last several months of scripts. You’re reading independent dramas, things that would normally feature great characters. And this actually had the most well-rounded people.

TMH: Woody, you’ve said the script rides the line between the comedy and the impending danger of the zombies, that it was tricky. How did you approach that challenge as an actor?

WH: Well I tried to stay in the head-space of my character who at one point probably had a very different kind of job, as opposed to zombie killing. [He was] probably more like an urban planner, but also, very much so [he had]pent up aggression inside of him, as there is with most people who have been spending their life behind a desk.

JE: His character has this kind of licentious libido that’s trying to work itself out. In a world overtaken by zombies, he’s able to take out all of that aggression.

WH: I like that alliteration.

TMH: You’ve also said that the way you approach the jokes in Zombieland was similar to the way you approached the jokes on Cheers. How so?

WH: I guess it was just the fact that everybody was very in to making it as funny as it can be. The only comparison is that in Cheers we used to be relentless about making it funnier. I think it’s a great way to work – just put your heads together and think of how to make this scene as funny as possible.

JE: And I have the same haircut as George Wendt.

WH: Geeze, I never saw that before.

JE: Yeah, and the same physique.

TMH: Jesse, how did you react when you found out you’d be working with Woody Harrelson?

JE: I had to audition with him, so at first I thought, “Well I hope it goes well because if he doesn’t like me, I will not be in the movie.” If I didn’t like him, then I could tell my mom about that. And my mom runs nothing. What’s she gonna do? So I was nervous to audition and then when I got into the movie I was so excited, of course. As was my mother.

TMH: Without giving too much away, how would you describe the special cameo in the film?

WH: Super special.

JE: We can just say there’s a cameo in the movie with someone very famous, very iconic…and it’s not me. That description doesn’t sound like it would be me. When people see it, people will they just flip in their seats. And the person behind them will just say, “Stop flipping in your seats; I can’t see this special cameo.”

October 5, 2009


Nick Maslow

Of the Staff

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.