Entertainment MagazineDawn of the DeadProduction Information page 2
All parties agreed that when it came to casting, it was essential to secure talented actors. “My experience producing Creepshow and Pet Sematary taught me that good writing and acting may even be even more crucial in a ‘popcorn’ move than in a serious drama—that’s why we put so much effort into the script and into finding the right actors,” states Rubinstein. “We had a ‘star’ in the title of the movie, and we hired based on talent and suitability for the roles.”
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An admired and versatile actor known primarily for her subtle performances in largely independent films, Sarah Polley’s interest in the role of Ana Clark, a nurse who is the moral compass of the group, surprised even her agent.“This was the last thing she would expect me to be interested in,” offers Polley. “But I loved the idea of it. I loved the original movie and when I met Zack and Eric I loved them. They had great ideas for the film and they knew that for the drama to work, this outrageous scenario had to be taken seriously. In horror, we’ve gotten used to it being very tongue-in-cheek, and the sense that the actors are in on the joke. I think it’s very brave, what Zack and everyone want to do. It takes a lot more balls not to be in on the joke.”Snyder was well aware of Polley’s customary film choices, and was thrilled when she came onboard. “Sarah sells the movie. As an actor, she is totally committed and her belief in the situation is palpable—and once she’s on-screen, the audience cannot help but believe it as well.”Another reason that compelled Polley to take the role was something she usually kept secret. She explains, “I have a zombie fascination. I’ve always had it, I guess since I was a little kid. Part of it for me is the whole idea of what happens after you die, if death isn’t permanent, if it’s only a half-death and your body still lives. A lot of the games I played as a child had to do with zombies. Plus I loved Romero’s films.”Since this was her first action film, Polley had not considered the amount of physical effort that it would require. “About one week into shooting, it occurred to me that I have never run in any of my other films, not once. And in this film it seems to me all I do is run,” she laughs. “It’s really rare to have a film where the female character is anything more than somebody screaming and running away, so it’s great that Ana is someone who, despite what she goes through, takes charge and holds her own.”But Ana’s fight against the zombies isn’t, for the most part, a lone one. After her first near-deadly encounter with two plague victims (a neighbor and her newly-converted husband), Ana meets up and joins forces with Kenneth, a police officer whose family has fallen victim as well. Disillusioned but still a man of duty, Kenneth’s single aim is to find his brother. And from the beginning, filmmakers wanted only Ving Rhames to fill the role of Kenneth. “For Kenneth, you want an enormous type of strength, an internal strength, slightly taciturn, somebody who can convey a lot without having to talk a lot. And even though he’s big and tough and fierce, you feel you could count on him in a bad spot,” states Abraham. Known for his stellar work in dramas, such as Rosewood, as well as in more action-packed fare, such as Mission: Impossible and Con Air, Rhames was lured to the project by Gunn’s script...but what hooked him was Zack Snyder’s reel.“I think Zack is turning out to be a dynamite feature director. He is a director that says a lot with the camera. When I’m looking at a filmmaker’s work, I like to turn down the volume and see if they can tell a story without hearing the dialogue. Zack’s reel was made up of commercials, but he still told a story,”Rhames explains. Glad to be in the company of such a varied group of performers, Rhames comments, “Our cast has accomplished actors, because it’s not just a ‘horror movie’—it’s a story where you care about the people in it. There are all kinds of different actors in the group—it’s almost like painting a portrait, and every color brings out a different character. In a way, it’s like the group that ends up in the mall, where we realize that if we’re going to survive, we have to all work together, no matter what our differences.”When casting the role of Michael, the salesman with concealed but valuable strategizing and combat skills, the filmmakers sat through numerous auditions where many actors chose to give the character more of a hard edge.“When Jake Weber read for the part, he brought to the character an empathetic quality we hadn’t seen,” recalls Abraham.Weber just loved the fact that Michael’s “just a regular guy who sells TVs for a living...and then he wakes up one morning to find the world has gone mad and he has a strange aptitude for coping in the most dire circumstances.”

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