Zombies, walkers, the undead, whatever you want to call them, are all the rage these days. The latest zombie apocalypse project is “Warm Bodies,” a daring romcom that bonds humans and zombies together. “Warm Bodies” hits theaters today, and stars of the film Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer stopped by Dallas to promote their movie. On Friday, Feb. 1, I had the chance to talk with the “Warm Bodies” cast about their fun experience, favorite zombie films, and upcoming projects in a Dallas press junket interview.
Nicholas Hoult plays R, a zombie trying to figure out his new life as a corpse. R falls in love with Teresa Palmer’s character, Julie. Julie and her group are trying to find a cure and she is rescued by R during a zombie raid. The two accidentally discover the cure to be love. But convincing everyone else is the tough part.
Q: Warm Bodies is such a great movie. Its lots of fun and is such an original genre-bending story. What about the script really made you gravitate to it and made you say ‘I have to do this‘?
Teresa Palmer: Exactly that. It was such a breath of fresh air, it was original and unique and daring. I love that it’s a mash up of all these different genres. It’s comedic and it’s a romantic film with some action film, then of course it’s the zombie genre which is fantastic.
Nicholas Hoult: Yeah, I really like the take that it was told from my character’s [zombie R] perspective which I don’t really think we’ve seen that before in a film. It gets into the zombie mindset. Then with Jonathan Levine directing, I think he’s got a soft touch and being able to balance making a film funny and not taking itself too seriously, but then also keeping a lot of heart and keeping it grounded in reality even with the concept that maybe seems slightly ridiculous. He manages to do that with this film really successfully.
Q: Nicholas, you said you were drawn to the role for its challenges. Can you talk about the difficulties in a mostly non-verbal role and how you prepared?
Hoult: It was a new challenge, luckily there was some great voice over which gives you some insight into my character’s thoughts and kind of witty self-depreciating outlook on the situation he’s found himself in. But then it was all about just focusing on this character who’s tried his best to emote and connect even though he’s struggling with it and I think a lot of guys…
Palmer: struggle with that! [laughs]
Hoult: [laughs] ...can relate to that. Put them in a room with a girl they like and suddenly they panic and have nothing to say. Fortunately for me, I was surrounded by very talented actors, a strong script and a director who was very supportive and encouraging. I could just sit there and watch them perform and enjoy what they were doing and then try and react in a kind of zombie-manner…with emotions.
Q: What do you think attracted your character Julie to R?
Hoult: [joking] My dashing good looks!
Palmer: [laughs] Yes! His dashing, somewhat pale, look. Um, this beautiful way about him. His light spirit and the way he is so sensitive and just wants to look after Julie and take care of her. He wears his heart on his sleeve and she knows he’s a good guy and that he’s trying so hard that she sees that he actually is making the best of this horrible situation. I think she sees that in her own self too and can relate to that. She’s been thrust into this world, this horrible dark world where her mother has been killed and her boyfriend is now missing and she’s this bright light among this dismal community and I think R is the same way.
Q: Nicholas, you had played Beast in “X-Men: First Class” where you had a human and a mutant element and now you’re playing a human with a zombie element. Is there something that attracts you to being a blue character? That split persona is very fascinating and a lot of psychology goes into the film about you being a Zombie and a human. Can you explain that process?
Hoult: These characters are outsiders and I enjoy as an actor being able to completely try and transform and morph. To not sound like myself or look like myself because then I find it’s not as difficult to watch when you’re sitting at the film’s premier. If you sound and look like yourself it’s terrible [laughs] it’s really awkward. So with these I like being able to do that and I like being able to try and bring a human quality and soul to the characters.
Q: Was there one scene or sequence that stands out as being the most fun to shoot?
Palmer: Where me and my friends have gone out to get medical supplies and we’re in the building. The first time the zombies come and stampede in which is also the first moment R lays eyes on my character and it’s a pivotal moment in the film.
Hoult: So much happens in that short period of time where we attack. I get shot, it’s going crazy, it’s a full action sequence. I eat Dave Franco’s brain and I relieve his memories with Julie.
Palmer: I’m shooting a shotgun and sliding on my knees.
Hoult: It’s the first time we interact, a fun sequence to shoot.
Palmer: We shot over three days and it was great. There was a smoke machine, stunt people. I’m throwing knives at R.
Hoult: Yeah, you stab me! [laughs] I get shot and then I get stabbed really early on. I get shot twice in this film.
Palmer: Then I’m crying [laughs] it was a lot in that sequence but it’s what makes it our favorite one I think.
Hoult: And any scene with Rob Corddry, the guy is hilarious and would make me laugh uncontrollably most of the time.
Palmer: He’s such a crack up!
Q: The communication between you and him is great.
Hoult: Yeah, it was very ‘male communication.’ Most of the time guys don’t have the best talks. We’re sitting at a bar, grumbling back and forth [grunts like his character]. We were improvising groans and Rob had one particular groan that would get me every time. He would let out a really slow monotonous long groan. [laughs]
Palmer: For as long as he could hold his breath, he just kept going!
Hoult: I would be looking at him and in my head I’d be going “please stop doing that I’m going to laugh.”
Palmer: He’d be biting his cheeks to stop himself from laughing!
Q: What are you hoping that your young fans get from this movie relationship-wise?
Hoult: Hmm, relationship-wise, I don’t know. I think maybe just recognize how busy the world is now a days. With so much going on we’re at sensory overload and the thing we really need to be able to do is appreciate the little things. Enjoy life.
Palmer: My favorite message of this movie is the idea that love breathes life back into us. There are so many disfranchised people in the world and if you can just connect back to the idea that love can heal. Love can make the world a brighter shade and that’s something that I connect to personally and I think the story really shares that with people.
Q: What was the most physically challenging element to the film?
Palmer: That whole end sequence was pretty difficult, the sprinting.
Hoult: Yeah, the zombie run was pretty difficult.
Palmer: [laughs] Zombie run?
Palmer: Ok, zombie ‘shuffle.’
Palmer: I was really going for it.
Hoult: Yeah! Teresa’s really quick. I’d been practicing on the treadmill in the gym and running around in the car park and it was still tough. But then the run is uncoordinated which is weird because I’m obviously quite the athlete [laughs] so to not run 100 meters in 9.3 seconds is odd.
Q: What are your go-to zombie flicks?
Hoult: “Shaun of the Dead”
Palmer: “28 Days Later”
Q: If you could eat any celebrity and ingest their memories of anyone in the world who would it be?
Hoult: I’ve said a few different answers. First I went Henry VIII and then I went Tina Turner. I’ve kind of been all over the place but I’d like to ingest the mind of some really intelligent scientist or great philosopher or psychologist but then I feel as though that might destroy me, or I just wouldn’t understand it.
Palmer: Elizabeth Taylor for me. Old school Hollywood, all these incredible stories in her life, and Richard Burton, that would have been interesting. But yeah it would have been great to see what old Hollywood was like.
Hoult: I’m gonna go with Freddy Mercury. I watched a documentary on him recently and the guy was incredible.
“Warm Bodies” is now in theaters. Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer star alongside Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, John Malkovich, and Dave Franco.
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