Zombieland's big celebrity cameo is absolutely brilliant. But, wait: there's more! Find out about the bizarre outtakes from that cameo that were filmed but didn't make it into the film, and all the big-name stars that could have appeared. Spoilers...
Again, this is a big spoiler, so avert your eyes if you want to your Zombieland experience to be spoiler free.
The giant cameo that people saw inside Zombieland this weekend was none other than Bill Murray himself, pretending to be a zombie, so he could remain safe inside his Hollywood mansion. I almost died from laughter when they all reenacted Ghostbusters, but the kicker was watching the skinny Jesse Eisenberg fire off a few rounds into his chest, mistaking him for an actual zombie. Now we all know the Murray is a legendary comic and improviser so we all know there had to be more to his death scene that what was screened. So we asked the Murray murderer himself....
Were you disappointed you didn't get to get high and reenact Ghostbusters with Bill Murray?
Jesse Eisenberg: We did, right after.
That was, without a doubt, the best thing I've ever seen.
JE: It was awesome. No, I was ... the whole joke of the setup was that my character is scared, and I would not know when he tries to scare me, so I would kill him. So I was so thrilled to be in that position.
You mean you were thrilled to be the one who gets to kill Bill Murray?
Yeah. I mean, it's my favorite part of the movie. You've just got used to this guy, and you think it's so cool that he's in the movie, and then he gets murdered like five minutes into it.
What was it like watching him die?
I was just in his death scene, and he was hysterical. He improvised the funniest things you'll ever hear.
I can only imagine that with him there's like seven different deaths scenes that we didn't get to see.
More than that, yeah. My favorite was not in the movie. She (Abigail Breslin) says to him, "Do you have any regrets?" And he says, "Only that I tried to scare this guy." ... And then Woody says, "Is there anything I can do?" He goes, "You can kill him for me." And Woody says OK.
Then he says, "And the little girl."
But that's not the only death scene available, if you stay until the end of the credits Murray surfaces again, to drop a Carl Spackler Caddyshack reference....
That's Murray saying, "In the words of the immortal philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre... au revoir, gopher."
But you may have read that it wasn't always going to be Bill Murray in Zombieland? In our exclusive interview writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, they filled us in on the many big celebrities they had in mind for the zombie cameo. Thankfully, Bill won out. But we wouldn't have minded a Kevin Bacon Footloose dancing zombie or two.
Was it always supposed to be Bill Murray?
Paul Wernick: In our DREAMS, we had Bill Murray. Interestingly, you have a list of the people you would absolutely love to have play the role and people who are just un-gettable. And Bill Murray is pretty much at the top of that list. He doesn't have a manager, he doesn't have an agent, he has an 800 number you call and leave a voicemail and he either gets back to you or not. He's notorious for being impossible to land and even if you land him, when he says yes, the chances of him showing up is ... you get lucky once he's on set.
So he was a dream, and we had gone through about 15 drafts with 15 different actors. It started with Patrick Swayze — this was before he got sick obviously — and then went Sylvester Stallone, The Rock, Matthew McConnaughy, Jean Claude Van Damme, Joe Pesci, Mark Hamill Kevin Bacon.
Rhett Reese: All those people, for one reason or another, would not or could not do it. And we were down to the eleventh hour, and we had written a version with no celebrity, just a zombie-fighting version where they fought more zombies, and we were prepared to shoot it but Paul just wouldn't take no for an answer and pestered Woody and said, "Well, is there any one else you can think of to be in this thing?" And Woody had two names: Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray.
And Paul said, "Yes to Dustin Hoffman and yes to Bill Murray!" Dustin couldn't do it and I don't even think that got ... But Bill said, "Well, send me the script." So we found the script, and he loved it, and he ended up being in the movie. It was a true Christmas miracle in April.
I hear that originally Bill was a zombie in it, that he was dead, so he decided to change it?
Rhett Reese: Correct. Well Bill wanted more to do. Because a zombie can only do so much; they can't talk, they have to snarl an attack and do all these things. We had some really fun celebrity zombie moments, I mean we had Patrick Swayze running up and attacking Tallahassee and Tallahassee lifting him into the air, like Patrick Swayze did to Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. He did the perfect lift and smashed him into a pillar and killed him that way. So we had been specifying the zombie attacks to the actor.
But Bill wanted more to do. And so the solution to that was why make him a zombie at all? Why not have him be alive, and then, oh my god, how about killing him? That all came out of the fact that he wanted more to do, so it was a blessing.
When Bill said "I want more to do," we thought "Well, let's go ahead and take a risk and put stuff in front of him that he may or may not do. Let's do Caddyshack jokes, let's do Ghostbusters jokes, and see if he reacts." We feared that he would not wanna make fun of his career or that he wouldn't want to do anything self-referential. Instead, he totally embraced it. We're calling Sony, going, "Get us the Ghostbusters outfit down here immediately! And see if we can get the rights to 'I'm Alright' by Kenny Loggins from Caddyshack!" So that all got put into motion in a hurry based on his willingness to do these crazy things.
Paul Wernick: It's so very rare that an actor is willing to make fun of himself and I think it endears, that ability to laugh at yourself, endears and audience to you. And I think it just really, really worked and we couldn't be happier and more proud that Bill Murray was in our movie. It was the most exciting thing in the world.