“Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick Interview – Zombieland: Double Tap”
Zombieland: Double Tap reunited audiences with Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock a decade after the original cult classic. While zombies and the ways to kill them have both evolved over the course of ten years, the film itself proved that its creative team still had a handle on the zany comedy of their imaginary world. Screen Rant sat down with two of those creators, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, to talk about the zombie (and human!) kills of the week as well as the possibility of other sequels.
An amazing film, Zombieland: Double Tap, is what we’re here to talk about. So, the landscape of zombie films has changed in the 10 years between films, and there’s been shows like The Walking Dead. Did that shift or influence you guys in the way you wrote Zombieland 2, or did have nothing to do with it?
Rhett Reese: We really tried to ignore it, actually. When you’re deep into a genre, you kind of just want to put on blinders and forget the competition and do what you do best. And for us, that’s a mix of comedy and zombies.
So, we stayed with the comedy. We didn’t try to compete with The Walking Dead; they’re amazing at what they do. We weren’t worried about making it scary. We just wanted to make it funny and heartfelt and a good tribute to the first movie.
Awesome. In the post credit scene, you guys kind of lampooned what we’re doing right now – the whole junket experience. One of the scenes stealers is Al Roker, but you’ve also got Grace Randolph, a YouTuber. How did that all come about?
Paul Wernick: Well, we obviously wanted to bring Bill back. He was a highlight of the first movie, and there is no Zombieland without Bill Murray. And we thought, “Well, how do we bring Bill back?” Well, we killed him. Columbus killed Bill Murray, so how do we bring them back? We can make them a zombie, or we could kind of go back in time.
With the nonlinear structure that Zombieland has in place with time and space, we were able to kind of do that and go back in time. And we thought, “Well, he mentioned Garfield. Let’s have some fun with that.” So, we brought in Garfield and then thought that Bill Murray sitting across from journalists, being asked the same question over and over; my guess is it’s happened to him before. And my guess is he has some fun while doing it, and he did. We gave him kind of a guideline or blueprint to work off of, and then he did his Bill Murray thing and magic happened.
That post-credit scene almost serves as a prequel to Zombieland. Is that an idea that you guys wanted to ever explore a little bit further?
Rhett Reese: Gosh, no, but that is a great idea. I mean, it’d be fun to go back to kind of the inception of Zombieland. We haven’t really thought about that. We’ve been so focused on how to get it 10 years in the future; how to let the world evolve, how to let the zombies evolve, how to let our characters evolve. But it really would be fun to go see it right at the beginning.
Something that’s happening in entertainment is the platforms for streaming, obviously. It’s a big thing that wasn’t around 10 years ago, or at least it wasn’t as big 10 years ago. But if Zombieland 3 were to happen, would you want to wrap that story up cinematically in a film or would you think about doing it in an 8-part streaming platform kind of thing?
Rhett Reese: Look, I love that idea. We’re looking for ways to sort of take advantage of the brand and the storytelling that we like to do. A limited series would be amazing. We’ve even thought about a Broadway musical, as crazy as that sounds. It seems like it would be really fun to us.
So, we’re open to anything and everything. And if it’s a third film, that’s awesome too. I mean, we would work with this group of people forever.
Where there any other Zombie Kills of the Decade that you guys had planned out in the film at all?
Rhett Reese: I’m trying to think… We had a really cool one with a wrecking ball; a construction vehicle with a wrecking ball and this guy who was swinging it at the zombies. And we created this whole new category called Human Kill of the Week, and it was the one where a human was trying to kill a zombie but then the zombie won out and ended up killing the human instead.
Paul Wernick: We’re equal opportunity.
Rhett Reese: This guy swung a wrecking ball at a zombie, and the zombie jumped on the wrecking ball and swung back and jumped into his cage and killed him. So, that was a fun one we didn’t use.
Paul Wernick: It got cut, I think, because of money.
You guys already know my love for you. You guys my favorite writers in Hollywood. We know that Deadpool 3 is happening. In your opinion, do you think that it’s possible to do a Deadpool 3 that could be rated R under the Disney banner?
Rhett Reese: Absolutely, because I don’t think it’ll be under the Disney banner. Like, I don’t think when you go to Deadpool 3, there’s going to be a Magic Castle that appears. I think it’s going to be under the Fox banner, so yes.
Zombieland: Double Tap is now available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and Digital.
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