|THE REST OF USTHE ORIGINALJ.J. ABRAMSSTAR WARS|
Bill Murray‘s appearance as himself in Zombieland is one of the greatest cameos of all time. It’s so perfectly Bill Murray, and the way it ends is truly worthy of a chef’s kiss. However, before the Ghostbusters star was confirmed to make the cameo, there were several other versions that were considered. In fact, the original draft had Patrick Swayze making the big cameo with a ton of references to his greatest movies from the 1980s, and some serious shade thrown at one of the favorites.
Zombieland co-writer Paul Wernick took to Twitter to release the script pages with Patrick Swayze’s cameo. But there are some things you need to know before you start reading. In this draft of the script, Woody Harrelson‘s character Tallahassee was originally named Albuquerque, Jesse Eisenberg‘s character Columbus was called Flagstaff, and Abigail Breslin‘s character Little Rock was Stillwater. But Emma Stone‘s character was always Wichita.
So there you go, and here are the pages:
The scene plays out much differently than what we got with Bill Murray, mostly because Patrick Swayze is actually a zombie in the scene instead of pretending to be one to assist in his survival. However, this zombie seems a little more reserved and tricky since he takes the time to fake out Flagstaff by sneaking up on him while he’s messing with the pottery wheel from Ghost.
Speaking of which, the placement of the characters has totally changed. In the final cut of the movie, it’s Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin’s characters who are watching a movie starring Bill Murray while Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone are the ones who encounter him first. But with Patrick Swayze, it’s Woody Harrelson’s character who shows Abigail Breslin the movie Road House, and Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone are the ones who encounter zombie Patrick Swayze.
Plus, unlike the outpouring of love that Tallahassee gives Bill Murray in the theatrical cut of Zombieland, the Patrick Swayze scene has the character still fuming that the man he loved in The Outsiders and Red Dawn stooped so low as to shake his ass in Dirty Dancing. Apparently he never forgave him, and once the time comes to kill Zombie Swayze, all four of the characters have a movie for which they feel he deserves to be punished, and that’s that.
Unfortunately, co-writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick weren’t ever able to offer Swayze the chance to take this cameo because around the time it would have been sorted out, the Red Dawn star had just started his fight with cancer. This would have been one hell of a farewell role, but then again, it might have been a little bittersweet since Swayze died just one month before Zombieland was released in theaters. I’m willing...
Quarantined viewers tuned into Saturday’s all-day, virtual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Summit were treated to a special surprise in the evening when filmmaker and TV titan J.J. Abrams crashed the party as the surprise special guest. He arrived just after his fellow “Star Wars” scribe Tony Gilroy “Rogue One” and the upcoming Cassian Andor series finished his conversation about the craft of screenwriting.
Abrams’ Q&A touched on a range of topics, from the origins of 2015’s “The Force Awakens” to scaling “the mountain,” as he called it, of writing a screenplay, and to the Golden Age of television happening now. It’s an era Abrams helped to launch with his ABC mystery series “Lost.” “I know my role in that. I’m not talking as if I had nothing to do with this,” he said.
“It’s the Golden Age of television, as they call it, even though I don’t know what television really is anymore,” Abrams said. “That’s because huge chances are being taken. Talent that might not have gotten the chance otherwise suddenly have the opportunity. For me, when I watch a show like ‘Atlanta,’ which takes the most spectacular risks in point of view, in genre, structure, and character […] every story has been told, it’s kind of all been done before,” remarking that the FX series tells its stories in unique ways.
Abrams also praised the Emmy-winning Prime Video series “Fleabag,” created by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“You see ‘Fleabag’ and you’re like, well, yes, the fourth wall has been broken [before], but not like that,” he said, referring to the protagonist’s tendency to face the camera and address the audience. “Yes, there have been amazing love stories, and stories of family, but not like that. What I love is the thing that makes you feel like, ‘Oh my god, this is so amazingly specific.'”
Abrams pivoted to discussing Hollywood’s place in a moment dominated by streaming content with originality that far exceeds what’s being reproduced on the big screen. “Hollywood used to be a place where something would happen, there’d be a movie where people would see it and think ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Here’s my answer to that,’ or ‘here’s my version,'” he said.
“Hollywood has become a place where, for the most part, studios say, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing. Let’s do that literally again.’ And that’s OK, and I think that will continue, but I really hope that all the writers who are here and others in the guild are as excited as I am about this new opportunity with streaming platforms. How many different stories are going to be...
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...