The zombies in "Warm Bodies" lurch, groan and eat human flesh like any others, but horror fans will notice something different about them.
"They're romantic," 26-year-old Aussie Teresa Palmer says. "They have feelings and they have personalities. And they listen to good music."
"Yeah," her co-star, Nicholas Hoult, 23, says, emphasizing, "We're doing our best."
Hoult plays R, a zombie with a wicked wit who lives at an airport in Jonathan Levine's film, which opens Friday. R and his zombie buddies attack humans like any other zombie, but when he sees Julie (Palmer), he falls head over shuffling heels for her and decides her boyfriend's brains will be the last he eats.
Both actors were fans of the genre--"I've watched 'Evil Dead,' 'Return of the Dead,' 'Night of the Living Dead.' ... 'Dawn of the Dead.' 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Zombieland,' " Hoult says in the video above--but they were intrigued by the zombie rom-com (romantic zom-com?) twist of "Warm Bodies." During an interview at the Peninsula Hotel, they talked about the crazy things they've done for love, the challenges of playing a zombie and what they would do if they had to live at an airport for a year.
(In the video above, they talk about eating brains--OK, other odd foods. Watch them demonstrate their zombie shuffle in the video at the end of the story.)
Your movie leaves us with the idea that love can overcome just about anything. How do you feel about that practically, in real life?
TP: I absolutely agree with that.
NH: Yeah. I agree. I think it could be a very powerful thing for good. It can be destructive as well, if in the wrong hands.
TP: That's true. But I do believe love breathes life into you. And when we were born, we're newborn babies, we come out of the womb and all we need is love. And you see that babies really thrive and heal from being loved and nurtured. And I think as we grow older and become adults we kind of forget that and we need to go back to our roots and understand that human connection and love is just so integral to just growth and feeling better. [Laughs.] So anyway, that's my thoughts.
NH: Nice speech.
A true romantic.
TP: Yes, I am.
NH: I'm crying a little bit.
TP: My God, he really is. [Laughs.]
So R goes to great lengths to save Julie. What's the most romantic thing you've ever done for someone?
NH: I make stuff.
TP: So do I.
NH: Yeah. It's pretty sappy.
TP: What sort of things have you made?
NH: I've made videos; I've made cards and books.
TP: Oh, me too; I do that.
NH: I've knitted things for people.
NH: Yeah, I learned how to knit. [Laughs.]
TP: That's really cute. [Laughs.] I scrapbook. I edit things together with music and then I'll put the little DVD in the scrapbook and photos and just all those sorts of things.
Back in my day, we made mixtapes.
TP: Yes. It's always very elaborate.
NH: I never made a mixed tape. I'd like to go back to doing that.
TP: I sometimes will make a CD for the scrapbook so I have it so that I know what songs are going to come as they're turning the page, and it's relevant to what I've put in the page. And sometimes they'll read it faster than I hoped and it kind of messes up that system. It's all right. [Laughs.] Nerd!
What's the most romantic thing someone's done for you guys?
TP: Oh. OK. I was leaving Adelaide to move to Los Angeles and my love at the time, he threw me a really beautiful going away as a surprise. My whole family came from different parts of Australia, and all my friends and it was really beautiful. It was sad, bittersweet, but it was just the most incredible thing. Everyone revealed themselves to me. And I was like waa! [Laughs.] That sounded bad. Don't put that in! They just popped out; I was just having dinner and everyone just kind of started walking in. I was like, "Oh, that's my dad." It was nice.
NH: That sounds kind of eerie.
TP: It was great. I loved it. What has someone done for you?
NH: Forgiven me.
TP: Ah, good answer.
[They both laugh.]
And that's all we need to know about that. It gets personal, right?
TP: Moving on.
In the movie, we see people not communicating and staring at their phones. What's another time in actual society that it seems like people are disconnected zombies?
NH: When you're listening to your iPod.
TP: Yeah, definitely.
NH: That blocks out, and also causes a lot of car accidents because people can't hear the cars coming.
TP: Yeah, it's all about the phones or like the texting and the emailing and I totally have been doing that today. Like I've been walking around, I'm still doing emails like, "Oh, nice to meet you," and then back to my email. It's awful.
NH: You're very busy, though.
TP: I am.
NH: It's OK. Don't beat yourself up about it.
TP: I am busy but still it happens.