Entertainment Weekly‘s got the goods on “World War Z,” the new
geo-political zombie thriller starring Brad Pitt that is scheduled to
arrive this summer via Paramount and Pitt’s Plan B shingle. At $170 million, it’s the most
expensive zombie movie ever made (going $50 million above its
original budget) and the lengthy and complicated production was
rumored to be in dire trouble last year.
Indeed, it was pushed 6 months past its originally scheduled Christmas
2012 date, and the epic struggle to get the movie made saw numerous screenwriters come on board with two prominent names — “Prometheus” scribe Damon Lindelof and “The Cabin in the Woods” director and co-writer Drew Goddard — hired midway through to fix the
troubled third act. And things got so bad on set, Pitt and director
Marc Forster reportedly stopped speaking to each other. Whatever
happened, they seemed to survive it, and EW’s article is far less
salacious then you’d expect. Regardless, it’s an intriguing read that’s also provided new photos (via USA Today and Dread Central) and a few fascinating details that give some clues about what to expect from the film. Here’s five things we learned.
In several of the interviews, the cast and crew suggest that while drama is its own beast, action tenpoles (even ones with drama) fundamentally work in a different way, with precise beats to that need to arrive like clockwork. “The whole experience has given me respect for this kind of [VFX-heavy] filmmaking,” Pitt told the magazine. “These movies are very intricate puzzles and you have to keep winding the mechanisms that trigger them all at just the right time. We give so much more credence to the end-of-the-year dramas. In these movies, we’re triggering emotions too — a thrill response — but they are far more calibrated. You’ve got to be a bit of a technician.”
When asked point blank by the magazine if they had stopped communicating on set as was the rumor last year, both men apparently just shrugged a lot and then finally Pitt said, “We’re in here every day, pounding away.” This suggests some friction, which the men allude to, but they’re interviewed together in the piece, and whatever beef they might have had during their complicated shoot seems to have been fixed and resolved. Foster does admit to the difficulties of the enormous-in-scale shoot piling up, adding to the overall tensions. “A movie of that scale, it’s not four people sitting around a table having a discussion,” he said. “It’s not ‘My Apocalypse With Andre.’ There’s choppers and crowds… [you’re creating] mass hysteria and panic in the streets….and it’s not easy and it can be stressful.”
J. Michael Stracynski wrote the first draft of the screenplay, which was described as a tonal cousin to “The Bourne Identity” films with grounded, international action. It leaked a few years ago and some called it a masterpiece, but Pitt and Forster apparently decided to go another way instead. EW says they were more interested in “solving mysteries than in throwing punches.”
The article opens up with an anecdote about Pitt being desperate for a chili dog. Apparently he was practically naked on set, he had been fasting for days and hadn’t eaten a proper meal in weeks. The idea was to bring some “authentic desperation” to his character. Paramount executives were apparently “shocked” when they saw an “emaciated” Pitt in dailies from the Budapest sequences. Some of these sequences apparently saw Pitt’s United Nations crisis specialist among the “ragged captives of Russian slavers.” Apparently this is what Pitt was talking about when he meant the sociopolitical lines and how people would react to this crisis. Evidently, the plot originally involved some nations or people keeping human slaves. Perhaps as bait to stave off the zombies? We may never know, as this whole section of the film seems to have been lopped off. Pitt, however, says he has no regrets about any “amputation” of the storyline when dealing with a narrative this big.