‘Zombieland’ and the surprise cameo of the year

Oct. 15, 2009 | 8:38 p.m.




SPOILER ALERT: We’ve been holding off on writing about the big secret in “Zombieland,” but now some time has passed so Patrick Kevin Day has some of the back story … but stop reading now if you haven’t seen the film and want to keep the surprise intact. — G.B.

By now, the secret’s out…

Bill Murray has a showstopping cameo midway through director Ruben Fleischer’s surprise hit,  “Zombieland.” But the back story to Murray’s appearance is almost as interesting as the bit itself. According to Fleischer, it was originally scripted for Patrick Swayze to appear as a zombie. “We had hilarious jokes written referencing classic Swayze movies. At one point, Woody [Harrelson] holds him up in the Jennifer Grey pose from ‘Dirty Dancing.’ “

With Swayze’s illness, they moved on through a whole roster of candidates: Sylvester Stallone, Joe Pesci, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, even Mark Hamill. They finally settled on a notable (unnamed) action star, who got cold feet at the last minute and backed out, leaving Fleischer and his crew just two days to find a replacement. That’s when Harrelson picked up the phone and persuaded his friend Murray to come down to Atlanta to shoot the cameo. You see the body wrapped up and perched on the ledge in the scene above? Those feet belong to Murrary.

And what if Murray hadn’t shown up? “We had a whole alternate direction planned where they encounter an old Jewish couple named Bubby and Peepaw. We cast two stunt people who we flew in and fitted, designed their zombie makeup and everything.” All we can say is, thank God for Bill Murray.

— Patrick Kevin Day

Dawn of the Dead




Woody Harrelson on the set of Zombieland

Queasy Woody Harrelson’s takes a rare trip into horror

GALLERY: David Strick’s set photos from “Zombieland” 

“Zombieland,” keeping the undead genre alive

LAT REVIEW: “Zombieland” kills

Aykroyd: “Ghostbusters 3” may start filming soon

“Ghostbusters” game sparked film sequel talks 

Photos: Top, Columbia Pictures. Bottom, David Strick / Hollywood Backlot


3 Responses to ‘Zombieland’ and the surprise cameo of the year

  1. Joseph says:

    To Patrick: Note how Geoff managed to write a title that conveyed what the article was about without actually giving away the spoiler. That way, if the reader didn't want the cameo spoiled he/she can simply not read the article. Compare this to your headline in the print edition, which essentially gave away the cameo in the headline itself, not giving the reader (in this case, me) a chance to avoid having the surprise spoiled. I was only 24 hours away from seeing the movie. Just couldn't resist the "clever" title, could you Patrick? Thanks for nothing.

  2. Sounds like Swayze would have been awesome but I can't say minded his replacement: the scenes with Murrary were among my favorites.

  3. Kristal says:

    That cameo is just one of the great things about this movie. I absolutely loved it and plan on buying the DVD once that comes out. Just overall a great film! I'm glad that it's the critics behind it too. It's gotten great reviews over at Movie Review Intelligence: http://moviereviewintelligence.com/index.aspx?BID

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