‘This isn’t going to end well’: The Dead Don’t Die cast reveal their nightmares at Cannes
|National Post 15 May 2019 at 11:32|
The Cannes Film Festival began this week on an odd note; the horror-comedy The Dead Don’t Die, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny and Tilda Swinton. For a festival that prides itself on cultivating arthouse flowers, marauding zombies made for a change of pace. So it seemed appropriate to ask cast and crew to name their personal zombies, and what scares them most.
For Jarmusch, it’s environmental change. His film blames an ill-defined fictional mining operation – “polar fracking” – for a shift in the Earth’s axis that creates the zombie plague.
Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver in The Dead Don’t Die. Abbot Genser / Focus Features / Image Eleven Productions, Inc.
Selena Gomez, 26, making her first appearance in a Jarmusch film, echoed his comments, but added: “For my generation specifically … social media has been terrible. I understand that it’s amazing to use your platform, but it does scare me when you see how exposed these young girls and young boys are. They’re not really aware of the news or anything going on. I don’t think people are getting the right information sometimes.”
Murray, always the wild card in an interview setting, declared: “I find Cannes frightening.” When it was pointed out that there have been no zombie sightings on the Croisette this year, the former Ghostbuster replied: “Says you.”
The Dead Don’t Die name-checks George A. Romero, the modern master of the zombie genre. And while Jarmusch said he’s more a fan of vampires – his 2013 film, Only Lovers Left Alive, starred Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as such creatures of the night – he also owes a debt of gratitude to the filmmaker, who died in Toronto in 2017.
“Horror is not my biggest expertise,” he said. “But Romero is extremely important, because he really changed the idea of zombies.” Classic movie monsters like Godzilla or Frankenstein, he noted, are threats that come from outside human society. “Zombies come from within our collapsing social structure, and they are victims as well.”
Asked what it was like to work on a comedy with Jarmusch, Murray responded: “He’s a barrel of laughs. He doesn’t need my help with the sense of humour particularly. We just work on posture and manners.” It wasn’t clear if he meant his own or those of the director; Murray exists in a comic bubble of potential misunderstanding.
As if to prove that, he then went off on a tangent about what a dangerous business moviemaking is, beginning with “the danger and the jeopardy we went through just getting into this building today. I think trying to keep light — and (then you) realize that this could be the last day of shooting every single day. (That) is a way to come to work. You try to treat it that way and then you try to treat everyone on the set that way. You want to be one less burden for the director.” Into the silence that followed he added: “I hope I’ve confused you.”
The Dead Don’t Die has a dark undercurrent: “This isn’t going to end well” is a line frequently uttered by Driver’s character, who plays a junior cop alongside Murray in the small town where the film takes place. But Jarmusch reminded the press that it’s not all doom and gloom, as when another character remarks: “The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.”
But we’ll leave the last word on philosophy to Murray. “I believe in life after death,” he said. “But not for everyone. So head’s up! Some of you I’ll see and some of you I might not.”
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