Whilst humanity is in the grip of a real-life apocalyptic virus, it can be surprisingly comfy and diverting to return to zombie invasion films: a fun and splattery way to process our own isolation. And 2009’s zom-comedy Zombieland is right near the top of that list, seeing as it delightfully aims for laughs over grim questioning of humanity’s tendency towards conformity and cruelness. Kind of don’t need to see that right now.
One of the film’s screenwriters has opened up about the process of writing and casting the film on Twitter, revealing that the movie’s now-iconic Bill Murray cameo originally looked a little different.
To refresh your memory, Zombieland‘s band of misfits (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) find themselves in a Hollywood mansion and gradually realise, from the Groundhog Day memorabilia on all sides, that they’re in THE Bill Murray’s house.
Murray himself shows up and is accidentally murdered by the anxious trigger-happy characters. Asked about whether he has any dying regrets, Murray admits: “Garfield, maybe.”
Don’t get me wrong, the scene is awesome. But co-writer Paul Wernick has tweeted out an earlier version of the script, when the filmmakers were still courting action legend Patrick Swayze for the meta-fictional role.
Sadly, Swayze passed on the cameo, due to recent diagnosis of the cancer that would ultimately lead to his death in the same year Zombieland came out. But we can still enjoy Wernick’s pages, embedded below.
Obviously scenes of a zombified Swayze wouldn’t have landed at the time of the film’s release, but it’s still fascinating to see how a now-beloved comedy scene could’ve been adapted for a different megastar cameo.
After getting a polite “no” from Swayze, Wernick and co-writer Rhett Reese allege that the filmmakers went after “Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Mark Hamill, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Joe Pesci, and Matthew McConaughey, before daring to ask Bill Murray, whom they never expected to say yes.