Warm Bodies Director Jonathan Levine on Thawing Hard Hearts

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 8:45 am


LYT: I want to ask about a couple of changes from the book, while dancing around spoilers. There's a moment in the book where he regresses, which could arguably be the "Romeo slew Tybalt" moment.

JL: When he eats the guard's brains?

LYT: Yeah.

JL: We actually shot that. And what we found was that, I don't know why it's different in the movie, whether it's because you've seen him come so far, or whether it's just actually watching him do it, but it just didn't work. You felt like he had gone too far, you felt like he had become too much of a human to go back in that way. And so we ended up having to cut it.

Also, in the book, it comes right after this wonderful scene where he's been drinking, and in the movie, we needed this kind of ticking clock internal momentum, so we couldn't have - in the book, they start drinking, and it's this wonderful digression - but we couldn't get away with it, it just lost the momentum of the movie. So now, without the justification of him being drunk, we can't have him just eating guys' brains, because then he's just a total dick! Then everything that happened beforehand, he's thrown it all away. So that's why we took it out.

LYT: This we can barely talk about, but a certain major character's fate is significantly different. Is it part of a general lightening of the tone overall that you were going for, or is there a specific story reason?

JL: I basically rejiggered the third act to make it more of a straight action movie. I think the third act of the book is much more metaphysical, more intellectual. I felt like we needed to push it more in a visceral direction, and that is the rationale for a lot of the changes in the third act. That doesn't exactly explain that one, but it's a house of cards, upon which all of that stuff relies. I don't want to specifically talk about that.

LYT: When this project first became publicly known, people were saying it sounded like Twilight with zombies. Was that something you were glad to hear, because you can get a fan base that way, or were you not glad to hear that because there were people who hated it? How do you feel about that comparison, and is it something that you wanted to embrace or disprove?

JL: I think it's a little bit of both. On the one hand, we fully embrace the Twilight audience, we think this is a movie that they'll really enjoy, so I don't want to completely reject that premise. There are things that are obviously valid comparisons between the two films. But on the other hand, it's a bit of a bummer, because it's not that. It got painted as this "We're going to grab the Twilight audience, they don't have any more Twilight, they have got to go see something!" That is SO not the case. This movie came from this pure creativity from this writer - it just came from him, he was not thinking about Twilight, he wasn't thinking about The Walking Dead, he wasn't thinking about anything except how to write a creative, fun story, and that's the same way I was thinking, so I just want people to know it's this unique thing, it's not a cynical thing.

So it's a double-edged sword. But I think when people see it, they will understand that it's both for the Twilight audience and it's for lots of other people, and I hope that lots of people embrace it, and know that our hearts are in the right place.

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Warm Bodies opens tomorrow.

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