With “50/50” pulling in pretty positive reactions from most critics (although you’ll recall that we were a little cooler on it than most), it looks like director Jonathan Levine is finally heading toward the big time, after a false start when his debut “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane” was lost to legal distribution hell.
The director’s about to start on “Warm Bodies,” based on the popular novel, which aims to do for zombies what “Twilight” did for vampires. The plot, set post-zombie-catastrophe, sees one of the undead (“X-Men First Class” star Nicholas Hoult) fall for a girl (Teresa Palmer) whose boyfriend he recently ate. We sat down with Levine in Toronto (you can find the first part of our chat here), and he seems pretty confident that the premise will allow the film to stand apart from the pack of competing pictures.
Of all the other zombie-themed films in the works (“World War Z,” “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” et al…), Levine didn’t seem concerned, saying “We’ll beat them six months to the screen, which is cool… Even if there are similarities I can’t imagine they’ll be very similar… Hopefully, I don’t fuck it up for them. Or hopefully I do fuck it up for them. I mean, it’s so good that no one could possibly make another one again, ever.”
As for his approach to the film, which also stars Rob Cordrry, John Malkovich, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton and Cory Hardrict, it seems like it’ll be a break with the unforced naturalism of “50/50.” “I’m prepping and will be shooting in a month and I’m really excited about it,” Levine said. “It’s going to be super different and very cool and an opportunity for me to push the boundaries of style and tone, after doing a movie where it’s a lot of people just talking together on a couch. It’s broadened the scale of what I’ve done but it’s also a challenging topic, it’s got a great cast, it’s a wonderful book, and it’s certainly going to be different and I think it’s an exciting adventure movie. But I hope it will be unique [and] visually arresting.”
As for further in the future, Levine also confirms that he hopes to re-team with “50/50” writer Will Reiser, and producers Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, for the script “Jamaica,” which was recently set up at Mandate Pictures. Levine says, “I’m very excited about going to Jamaica with those guys but am also terrified of never leaving… I love Jamaica so much, I’ve been there so much and I think it would be great if we could shoot a movie there.” However, it’s clearly a ways off — Levine told us that he hasn’t read anything yet, although he says that it’s “a great idea of another script.”
While we weren’t totally enamored with “50/50,” it’s hard to deny that we’d see a film like this one connect with audiences than “Transformers 3.” You can check it out for yourself when it opens on September 30th.