Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg (photographed above by El Nuevo Herald's C.M. Guerrero at the Shore Club on Miami Beach) spent the day doing interviews before tonight's red-carpet premiere of Zombieland at the AMC Sunset Place.
Considering how played out the zom-com genre seemed to be, I asked them if they were skeptical when they first received the Zombieland script, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Here's what Harrelson said in his laidback drawl:
"I was running around with five scripts in my bag at the time, and my first reaction was to read it last. My agent kept asking me 'When are you gonna read Zombieland?' But I just thought ... 'A zombie movie; it's gotta be stupid.'
"Eventually I whittled down the pile and got to that script and I was like 'Well, I guess I better read it.' But within moments of starting it, I thought 'Oh my God. We're in good hands here.' When you watch this movie, you immediately know you're in good hands with the director. I felt the same way about the script."
Harrelson admitted he had some qualms about working with a first-time director (Ruben Fleischer) with no experience in the feature-film arena.
"It did give me pause. And even though [Ruben] was great to work with, and so fun and open to everything - in spite of all the good experiences during the production, when I went to see the movie at a screening in Orange County, I was really worried it was going to be terrible. Because you never know. But I was delighted. It turned out great. I'm really jazzed about it."
I also asked Harrelson about his exit scene in No Country For Old Men, which I always thought was a terrific bit of acting. Without saying a word, Harrelson conveys his character's terror after realizing he's about to die and has no way of dodging the bullet.
"I was really interested in adding some stuff that was in the book that didn't make it into the scene. I had the audacity to rewrite that scene. The night before we shot it, me and Javier [Bardem] practiced the new version - just little cool things we added, like this line where he said 'You look in my eyes because you think if you don't blink and you just stare in my eyes, I won't kill you.'
"It was some cool stuff. But when we did it for [the Coens], they were like 'No, let's do it how it was written.' It was still fun. Just a little exercise in futility."