Stars of zombie comedy discuss film experience

Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment

On Feb. 1, a new type of romantic comedy is set to debut on the Hollywood scene. Warm Bodies is the story of a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult, X-Men: First Class) who spends his time wishing he could connect with others – that is, before he falls in love with the feisty human, Julie (Teresa Palmer, I Am Number Four). As R spends more time with Julie, he begins to revert back into a human, and their love infects other zombies. This comical tale finds the perfect line between love and gore.

This week, stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer sat down for a Q&A session with the Technique to discuss their views on zombies, romance, acting and much more.

What initially attracted you to the project?

TP: For me, it was the script. I read it and it was so unique, and original and refreshing. The fact that you’re hearing from the zombie’s perspective was something that hadn’t been done before. And it made me laugh; I really cared about the characters, and I thought it was grounded in reality in a strange way.”

NH: I really enjoyed reading it. I thought Jonathan Levine was a director I wanted to work with. I enjoyed [his] previous films, and I cared about the character – I thought he was funny and daring, and I thought it would be a tricky role to pull off and, if it worked, it could be a good film.

How hard was it for you [Nicholas] to not blink?

NH: The not-blinking thing was a silly decision, because I was talking to Jonathan and I said, “Do you reckon dead people blink?” And he said, “I guess not.” If I was smart about it they could have cut around my blinking, but I decided no, I wasn’t going to blink.

Was there anything difficult for you to do in this movie as opposed to your previous films?

NH: There was obviously the fact of not really being able to communicate properly. It made it something different to try and emote without emoting too much and connect with Teresa’s character. That was the main thing the character was trying to express, like most guys, but failing to [do so] with girls.

TP: Because I have much of the dialogue in the movie I have never come up against that before. I’m usually playing a supporting character, but this one was a first lead role and I found it quite challenging to balance. I found it difficult to balance the initial situation she’s in because she starts out petrified by R, and then her fear needs to transition into a place that will organically take her into falling in love with him, so she had to be fearful but curious as well. Finding that balance was quite challenging as an actor.

What do you think people can learn from zombies?

NH: They can learn that if you try your best that things can get better and you can change for the better. I think there’s that moment in the film when they’re talking about [how] being a zombie is not that different from being a human, in some ways. We live in such a fast-paced world now with so much technology and things going on whereas sometimes you need to stop and notice the smaller things around you. Perhaps stop and smell the roses, and the little things.

TP: I think from this movie in particular and the zombies in this film, it’s really just [to not] give up hope; as dark and dismal as your situation may seem, love and the power of human connection can really bring you through to the other side. And this too shall pass.

Was there anything fun or interesting that you had to learn how to do for this movie?

TP: Shoot a shotgun – that was fun!

NH: I got to drive the car around on the runway; that was fun. I also got to watch a lot of zombie films…just trying to figure out what I was going to do and how it was all going to work.

If you guys could take a few things with you from the collections on the plane for any kind of apocalypse, what would you take?

TP: Definitely the vinyl; I liked the David Bowie vinyl. I’d take that and listen to some good music. My shotgun…and the stereoscopes! We played with that in the film, and that was cute and fun and always changing.

NH: I’d take a little generator so I’d have some sort of electricity. I’d take a photo album. …And I’d take some arts and crafts.

Do you think that you, personally, could fall in love with a zombie in a zombie apocalypse?

TP: I totally could if the zombie was like R, I mean, he’s sweet and he wants to take care of me and keep me safe…and he’s got great taste in music. A sweet, sensitive guy, sure! And he didn’t smell too bad. I was really surprised by that.

NH: I don’t know if I would be so successful in the falling-in-love-with-a-zombie thing, because it works for you in the film because you managed to heal me. I don’t know if my love’s strong enough to heal someone.