Director Craig Gillespie Responds to Landing Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Gig
Posted 04.19.11 by Ryan
Lionsgate recently announced that Craig Gillespie would be the latest director hired to the big-screen adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on the best-selling novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (Jane Austen also made a contribution).
David O. Russell (The Fighter) was initially hired to write and direct the movie, and after he quit (citing budget issues), writer-director Mike White (Year of the Dog) was hired to replace Russell, until White quit as well. While speaking to EW, Gillespie discussed how he became Lionsgate's third option (and hopefully, last).
I was aware the project was around, but at the time it wasn't available. Then it became available. I was still finishing up Fright Night, but in the meantime I called my agent and said, "I want to see that script." He said, "I'm not sure we'd be able to figure out the timing." But I read the first 30 pages and said, "I want to do this." It's just such a great combination between classic literature — Jane Austen, and meshing it with zombies. The challenge of meshing those two genres is really exciting to me.
Gillespie calls the script, written by Russell during his tenure as director, "great" and says he plans to "do a polish on and then get going, really." Gillespie also revealed that the book will remain true to the book but will also concentrate on the love story between the two main characters, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
There's a lot of action in this. There are a lot of big set pieces in this film, which is exciting. Basically, as I said to the studio, at the core it's a love story between Elizabeth and Darcy. If that's not working, and we're not rooting for those two get together through all this craziness, the movie is not going to work. That's key to me, to have this great emotional story going on, and all this craziness.
David Russell wrote the script off the book, and it has such a great mix of humor and horror. I just love being able to juggle those two aspects. The humor is inherent in the Pride and Prejudice side, but taking that and accenting it with zombies is just a brilliant and fun idea. And there are such strong female characters, which is nice to have. It's a great clash.
Gillespie says the movie will be more a drama with "comic relief," and that the zombies will be treated like a another problem of living in 19th century England.
They're [the zombies] incorporated in a great way. It's literally just a burden they have to deal with. And back in those days, people would die from plagues. It's just a hardship they have to work through. They still try to keep the social norms working. It's not proper for a lady to be carrying a shotgun, for example, but here she’s got to have a weapon.
Gillespie not only will have to get the script polished, he will also have to cast the movie as well. But, so far, Gillespie has no one in mind. "It's too early now," said the director.
That's okay. Fans are just happy to see someone will actually direct the movie.