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

warm-bodies-interview

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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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…