“Warm Bodies” director Jonathan Levine explains why Seth Rogen was the film’s “safety net”


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When you listen to the voiceover in the new zombie comedy “Warm Bodies,” think of Seth Rogen. Director Jonathan Levine, who worked with the comedian on his cancer comedy “50/50,” showed him the film at around the same time as Rogen was finishing up his apocalypse comedy “This Is The End,” and the two directors gave each other a screening of their respective films and swapped notes. For “Warm Bodies,” Levine had been struggling with how to help his zombie lead R (played by Nicholas Hoult) to articulate himself, given that he’s mostly prone to grunts at first.

“Seth was like, ‘You either have to make the voiceover funnier, or lose the voiceover entirely,'” Levine told IFC. “I was like, ‘I want to make it funnier,’ so he said, ‘Okay, here are some ideas.’ So I stole his ideas. I do whatever he says.”

Levine, who said he’s been a fan of Rogen’s since “Freaks and Geeks,” called him his “safety net.” “He helped with the voiceover, helped with the pacing, and then I came in and kind of maybe helped him with his movie. His movie is in great shape. I’m giving it two enthusiastic thumbs up. It’s going to be a monster.”

And Levine knows his monsters. He put actors such as Hoult and Rob Corddry through “zombie training school,” a class led by Jean-Jacques Pillet from Cirque de Soleil, who taught them how to move like corpses, “a lot of really weird shit.” (Though the director has a cameo, he didn’t play a zombie himself, just a guy teaching a zombie how to catch a ball. “I have a cameo in every movie,” he admitted. “In ’50/50,’ I’m in the back of the bus. In ‘The Wackness,’ I’m the first person walking down W. 4th Street getting the middle finger.”)

When not in zombie training school, actors on set bonded over watching viral videos. John Malkovich, in particular, became quite adept at imitating them. “It was the funniest shit ever,” Levine said. “He was talking whatever video was the top thing of the week, party boy, girl on a toilet, and re-enacting it verbatim, in character, perfectly. And he’s John Malkovich, so you can imagine. There was one where he was like, ‘I want some waffle fries for free!’ I remember that one: ‘I want some fucking waffle fries.'”

“Warm Bodies” is based on the book by Isaac Marion, and the author is already working on a sequel, which both intrigues and scares Levine. “I always find it really weird to talk about sequels when we have no idea if anyone’s going to go see the movie or not and like it — which I really hope they do!” he laughed. “So if that happens, then, yeah, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to revisit these characters.” Just don’t ask to him to try to survive an actual zombie apocalypse, because that scares him even more. “I’d be fucked,” he said. “I’d be totally fucked. I’d be horrible. I would just curl up in a fetal position and weep copiously, and I would do that maybe even before there was a zombie apocalypse. I’m a bad person to have in the trenches.”

Will you be checking out “Warm Bodies” this weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was written, produced, directed and narrated by Robert Evans. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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