Spoiler Notice: The following story reveals some amazing elements of “Zombieland 2: Double Tap”. Don't read before watching the movie if you want to keep all secrets untouched.
Arguably, the funniest moment in the 2009 undead comedy "Zombieland" comes as the intrepid gang of survivors Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) discover that Comedy legend Bill Murray found a surefire proof of how to survive the zombie apocalypse: disguising himself as one of the undead.
"He was the highlight of the first movie," said Paul Wernick, who, with Rhett Reese, co-wrote the script for the original and its sequel.
But Murray's attempt to backfire from Columbus and he is accidentally killed, limiting his potential for participation in the sequel.
"There is no world in" Zombieland "without Bill Murray," said Wernick. “So we thought: How do you lead a special guest appearance by Bill Murray in the first movie? You put it in the second.
In theaters now, "Zombieland: Double Tap" features a post-credit Murray cameo, which should precede the events of both films: apocalypse erupts.
"We suggest this early when they are at the Hound Dog Hotel and Nevada mentions Columbus how Bill Murray died," said Wernick. "We thought," How fun would it be to call back the first movie in which Little Rock asks him what his biggest regret is and he says "Garfield?"
“People always ask us if we write these jokes in which actors make fun of their previous projects, as Ryan Reynolds does with 'Green Lantern' and Bill Murray did with “Garfield” ”” Reese, who also co-wrote the two “Deadpool” movies with Wernick, he added. “The answer is that we would never have the courage to do that. These jokes come from the actors themselves and so we just think about it. "
Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), left, and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) in Columbia Pictures' "Zombieland 2: Double Tap".
(Jessica Miglio / Sony Pictures)
Although her cameo became one of the most beloved scenes in the first "Zombieland", Murray's role had originally been written for Patrick Swayze. After the "Dirty Dancing" star had to quit due to an illness, the writers began working to reshape the role to fit a new actor.
"We ended up writing 12 different versions for different actors, trying to get them to do it," said Reese. "We passed guys like Sylvester Stallone, Mark Hamill, Jean Claude Van Damme, Matthew McConaughey and Dwayne & # 39; The Rock & # 39; Johnson. But when Bill Murray took office, we were so lucky that none of the other people said yes because he is better ".
The part was conceived as a zombie, but he agreed to the role with the caveat that it would be developed.
“He said, 'You know, I really love this script, but there's not enough for me to do. Is there any way I'm alive and really talking? & # 39; & # 39; remembered Reese. "And we thought," Let's make him pretend to be a zombie, because that can be funnier and allow Bill to do more. "
Imagining a new cameo for the actor after his death on screen proved more challenging. In the 10 years between sequences, the writers conceived several story lines that were eventually discarded.
"Originally, Rhett had written a cameo of Ghostbusters," said Wernick. “It was Bill on a golf course with Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis and they are trying to persuade him to do“ Ghostbusters 3. ” And then the zombie apocalypse begins and he is forced to use the golf course tools to survive and fight the cast of Ghostbusters. which are all zombies now. Obviously this was before the death of & # 39; Ghostbusters 3 & # 39; ”And Ramis in 2014.
Instead, it was decided that Murray would be the only meta role. "We still had some fun appearances in the movie, but we wouldn't have anyone performing because we just couldn't do better than Bill," Reese said.
Instead of playing themselves, Thomas Middleditch and Luke Wilson appear in a different kind of special role: as the spiritual doppelgängers of Columbus and Tallahassee, nicknamed Flagstaff and Albuquerque.
Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), left, Wichita (Emma Stone), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) in "Zombieland 2: Double Tap".
(Jessica Miglio / Sony Pictures)
"They remind Woody and Jesse in a way that made us laugh," Wernick said of the cast. "They're wonderful actors and wonderful improvisers. And the way they had fun, I think, is pretty magical on screen. It's one of our favorite moments in the sequence."
The original scene required only one doppelgänger, then known simply as "Alpha Tallahassee".
"He was a guy who was like a bigger, stronger, tougher, more arrogant version of Tallahassee," said director Ruben Fleischer. "He was like this enlarged version of Woody's character."
"And sometime someone came up with the idea of" Well, if we're going to do it for Tallahassee, we're going to do it for Columbus, too, "Reese added.
Flagstaff and Albuquerque were the original names made for Columbus and Tallahassee, but after deciding to film in Georgia, not in the southwest, they were renamed to make more sense geographically. This background story makes the scene an even bigger Easter egg and provides one of the funniest moments in the movie.
"That was, on the page, my favorite scene in the movie," said Fleischer. “It was such a funny idea conceptually, and after we cast Thomas Middleditch, who is just a world-class improviser, he kind of jumped onto the paper with both feet and lifted it beyond my wildest imagination. So many of my favorite jokes in this exchange are the ones that Jesse and Thomas improvised. "
HBO's "Silicon Valley" fans are probably familiar with the Eisenberg brand of Middleditch-style geek humor, but Wilson is not such an intuitive counterpoint to Harrelson.
"Luke has this laconic cowboy feeling, which is very Woody Harrelson," Fleischer explained. “He and Woody are also close friends, so there was a natural relationship. Woody called him and asked if he would do that, and I can't think of anyone better to do the part. "
"He read the script and really accepted it," Wernick added. "And he and Woody know each other's mannerisms well. Some of the things that ended up on the court room floor are so funny because it's just them that shake each other the way old friends do."
Originally, both groups of twins were supposed to react competitively, but Eisenberg and Middleditch improvised a different approach to their characters.
"They started to make it less competitive and more a society of mutual admiration," said Reese. “And it really made us laugh, this idea that these two guys were discovering their long-lost twins when they met. It was just a totally different way of seeing it and it started to laugh and the guys ran with it.
"It creates a richer scene than it would have been if they were coming together," he added. “They seem to have the same cultural influences and very similar perspectives. And then why not have them joined instead of sticking in each other's throats?
Watching the scene with disinterest, Wichita, who does not receive doppelgänger treatment.
"We didn't give Emma a doppelgänger because we thought it was a little too coincidental at the time," Reese said. “I was already extending credulity to have one or two, so having three or more felt like I was stretching. But it is also very difficult to find someone who can walk side by side with Emma Stone. Emma is unique; she would be hard to replicate. "