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Brad Pitt Talks Tentpole 'World War Z,' Unused Budapest Scenes and Fast vs. Slow Zombies in New EW

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood March 28, 2013 at 1:43PM

Much has been reported on "World War Z"'s laborious trek to the big screen (June 21), plagued with re-shoots and re-writes -- all the while taking the title of Most Expensive Zombie Movie Ever Made. Despite rumors of conflict between director Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace") and his producer-star, it's up to Brad Pitt's to turn this movie into a winner for all concerned. And so he sits down with Entertainment Weekly (which hits newsstands March 29), and discusses his newfound admiration for the big-budget tentpole, the stealthy zombies in the film, and why he loosened up on his original political interests in the project.
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Brad Pitt on the March 29, 2013 edition of Entertainment Weekly
Brad Pitt on the March 29, 2013 edition of Entertainment Weekly

Much has been reported on "World War Z"'s laborious trek to the big screen (June 21), plagued with re-shoots and re-writes -- all the while taking the title of Most Expensive Zombie Movie Ever Made. Despite rumors of conflict between director Marc Forster ("Quantum of Solace") and his producer-star, it's up to Brad Pitt's to turn this movie into a winner for all concerned. And so he sits down with Entertainment Weekly (which hits newsstands March 29), and discusses his newfound admiration for the big-budget tentpole, the stealthy zombies in the film, and why he loosened up on his original political interests in the project. Highlights below.

Watch the film's trailer here.

On the "technician" aspects involved with big-budget tentpoles:

“These movies are very intricate puzzles, and you have to keep winding the mechanisms and then trigger them all at just the right time. We give so much more credence to the end-of-the-year dramas. In these movies you’re triggering emotions, too—a thrill response—but they are far more calibrated. You’ve got to be a bit of a technician.”

On the difference between the film and the Max Brooks novel its based upon:

“The book focused on slow zombies. We chose to be more dynamic in that we wanted to base all of this on science. So it’s ‘What if we had them move like ants? Or a swarm of bees? Or birds or a school of fish that’s being chased?’ One of the first [questions] we asked was how to portray the zombies and how to do it differently because it’s been done so many times and been done pretty damn well.”

On the scenes shot in Budapest, which won't be used for the film:

"At the time I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking: ‘What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this? Who would be on top? Who would be the powerful countries and who would be the most vulnerable? We wanted to really explore that, but it was just too much. We got bogged down in it; it was too much to explain. It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be.”

World War Z EW full cover


This article is related to: Interviews, Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt, World War Z, Paramount, Entertainment Weekly, News


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.