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Five Rules for Surviving a Zombieland Press Conference

CinemaBlend's Katey Rich braved zombie fighters Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as they came to New York to talk about their flick Zombieland.


In Ruben Fleischer's directorial debut, the horror comedy Zombieland, you don't just need combat skills to survive the zombie apocalypse. You need to follow a certain set of rules: make sure you shoot the zombie twice, for example, and at all costs, avoid bathrooms. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson star as a pair of survivors who couldn't be more different, with Jesse as the nervous mensch who made up all those rules, and Woody as the cocksure marksman who breaks them.

But in a real life press conference with the two actors at the Waldorf-Astoria, their combined quick wits and dry-as-a-bone sarcasm mean the assembled journalists needed some rules of our own to keep up. Surviving a press conference with these imaginative goofballs might not be as difficult as beating back the zombie hordes, but you could probably still use these five survival rules anyway.

1. Take everything with a grain of salt. A large grain of salt. When Jesse suggests that he hasn't even read the script, or that Abigail Breslin's gun-toting skills will serve her well in "Hollyweird," that's sarcasm at its absolute driest. Woody had his moments too, swearing that he vied for attention even when the camera wasn't on him, that Natural Born Killers was a "misunderstood romantic comedy," or how about this gem: "in my mind, zombies are pretty ecological, because they eat humans who are causing most of the ecological damage."

2. Love a good pun. First Jesse suggests that, in a world overrun by zombies, he would act out his Oedipal complex, and Woody responds "Oh, so you're hungry for...?" Then someone asks the connection between a zombie killer and Jesse's upcoming role as poet Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings, and he responds "Well, they're both Beats." Feel free to insert your own rimshot.

3. Listen fast. I was barely able to transcribe some of the repartee between the two of them, and a lot of it came in glances and facial expressions, but here's my favorite example:

Q: Did you do any research for your characters?
Woody: You pretty much just show up on the day and wing it.
Jesse: I read up on the Peloponnesian War, but when we got to set we realized it wasn't necessary.
Woody: You're really into P's [words that start with P] today.
Jesse: Yeah, it's because I have to go to the bathroom.

4. Don't be afraid to get political. Woody is known for his environmentally friendly politics, and when he mentioned killing zombies for the movie he noted, "God knows I would have had a heyday the last 8 years." But when someone had the nerve/insanity to ask whether there were any zombies in the Obama administration, things got really on point—and then off-topic again, of course:

Woody: You know, I feel a little hope with Obama, because he feels like a man of integrity.
Jesse: The entire delegation from South Carolina must leave office, and I say that as an actor in a horror comedy. It gives credibility. At the Waldorf Astoria, getting paid to sit here and drink Fiji.
Woody: You're getting paid?
Jesse: Yeah, a lot. Yeah, I get paid for everything.
Woody: I just did it gratis. I thought that was what you were supposed to do.

5. Don't underestimate zombie comedies. Jesse and Woody both made their names in independent films, but each of them insist that Zombieland is better than most of the "serious indies" they're usually offered. Jesse swears, "There are so many moments in independent dramas that feel phony, and [in Zombieland] I don't feel there's one moment that feels forced or faked. Great movies can span any kind fo genre or any categorization." As for Woody, he might just be in Zombieland because he was tricked into it: "I thought this was an independent drama, ad Ruben convinced me [otherwise]."


For non-Zombies: Zombieland opens nationwide on Friday, October 2. Click here for ticket information. Check out their Facebook and Twitter.

New York Zombies: On Wednesday, September 30, there's a special screening via NYC Zombie Crawl.

We talked to Eisenberg in April for Adventureland, now available on DVD.



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