Combustible Celluloid

Interview: Jonathan Levine, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco

Zombie Love

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

January 15, 2013— Warm Bodies is a new kind of zombie movie, one in which the hero of the movie actually is a zombie. And he's not just any hero: he's a romantic lead, who falls in love with a human girl.

The director of Warm Bodies, Jonathan Levine (50/50), recently visited The City to talk about his movie, and zombies in general.

Levine discusses the idea that zombie movies are about collective consciousness versus an individual. "In the traditional ones, the people want to be individuals, and in this one, it's the zombie who wants to be an individual," says Levine.

Levine was joined by two of his cast members, Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) and Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love), both of whom have Bay Area roots. Tipton was raised in Sacramento, and Franco is from Palo Alto.

Franco and Tipton are both writers as well. Franco currently makes comedy shorts for "Funny or Die" and Tipton is tentatively working on, ironically, another zombie screenplay. She keeps a journal by her side filled with stories, sketches, and thoughts captured in hand-drawn thought bubbles.

Tipton says she regrets one thing about the movie: her character was supposed to be a "Love Boat" fanatic, and all the jokes and references were eventually cut out of the final movie.

"That's how I got into it," Tipton says. "It was such a quirky random thing. Do you know that I watched 'The Love Boat' every night before filming? I got obsessed with it. It's so good! Every night is different! They sing!"

Additionally, all three filmmakers were fascinated to work with the legendary John Malkovich in the film.

Franco says, "You're intimidated based on what you expect him to be like. But he's a goofy, lighthearted guy. He's even more amazing than you thought. He's an opera singer, and he designs clothing. We'd catch him rapping under his breath to Dr. Dre."

Eventually the conversation gets around to the big question: fast zombies vs. slow zombies.

"There are moments when they get a little faster, but we did choose slow, because I thought we were working in a kind of dialectic with the Romero world," says Levine.

"We wanted our zombies to be unique. We didn't want to do gaggy half-arm, or half-face, but also wanted it to feel kind of classic."

Levine laughs, thinks for a moment and remarks, "You do realize that whatever anyone wants to do in the zombie genre, Romero has done."

Partial Jonathan Levine Filmography:
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
The Wackness (2008)
50/50 (2011)
Warm Bodies (2013)

Partial Analeigh Tipton Filmography:
The Green Hornet (2011)
Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Damsels in Distress (2011)
Warm Bodies (2013)

Partial Dave Franco Filmography:
After Sex (2007)
Superbad (2007)
Milk (2008)
The Shortcut (2009)
Greenberg (2010)
Charlie St. Cloud (2010)
Fright Night (2011)
21 Jump Street (2012)
Warm Bodies (2013)

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