Comic-Con 2015: Interview with Bella Heathcote and Douglas Booth on “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

Posted on July 14, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Bella Heathcote (“Dark Shadows”) and Douglas Booth (“Romeo and Juliet”) play Jane and Mr. Bingley in the latest of innumerable movie and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice. While I have not seen them all, I feel confident in saying that this will be the first that has the five Bennett girls fighting zombies with swords and martial arts, based on the best-seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. I was lucky enough to get to interview Heathcote and Booth at Comic-Con.

Copyright Nell Minow 2015 All rights reserved
Copyright Nell Minow 2015 All rights reserved

In the original book, Jane is so sweet natured she finds it almost impossible to think badly of anyone. In the film, Heathcote said, “The thing about Jane in the book is she also feels responsible for her sisters. There are other aspects of Jane in the book that also hold true to this film. Because of sense of responsibility she has to be a great fighter. She wants to protect her family. But she is still sweet and she is still a woman who wants to love someone and be loved. Those relationships are important to her, perhaps even more so because its’ such heightened stakes.”

The entire cast had fight training before filming. But “Bingley isn’t the best zombie killer,” admitted Booth. “He often finds himself being saved by the wonderful Bennett sisters or his very dear friend, Mr. Darcy. The film definitely focuses on the talents of the Bennett sisters. They are known throughout the land as an awesome pack of death machines.” He did learn some important zombie-fighting tactics, especially “always travel in packs.” “And anything can be a weapon,” Heathcote added firmly. “A hairpin, a boot, anything can be used to kill a zombie. My most satisfying kill was with a boot heel.” “A spiky heel straight through the eyeball,” said Booth, with an admiring glance.

Booth had read the book and was very happy to join the cast. “I’ve done straight costume dramas before and it is thrilling and exciting and different and sexy to see something like this.” All of his friends were texting him, “Can I be an extra?” “Can I be a zombie?” “But wait — how do you kill them? There’s no guns!” “The props department had a fun time creating a whole bunch of killing instruments and it is fascinating to see all the ways they had of defending themselves. It wasn’t like a zombie movie where everyone’s being chased from A to B. It’s about how this love story can endure; how would the upper classes protect themselves?”

The zombies in the film go through stages. When they are first bitten, they act normally and try to cover the bite so no one finds out and tries to attack them. “They can get into society, and that breeds a sense of paranoia in society.”

“It’s everything I loved about the original and then there’s thrill thrown in,” said Heathcote. “I first thought, ‘How could this possibly work as a concept?’ But it does!”

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