It seems like only yesterday we were reporting that Zombieland star Emma Stone had decided to pass on a starring role in Craig Gillespie’s big screen adaptation of the genre mashup novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. More recently, it was reported that Blake Lively (Green Lantern, Gossip Girl) had also passed. Lively marks the latest in a series of actors who have considered and then declined the offer including Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Wasikowska and Rooney Mara.
With so many actors declining the role of Elizabeth Bennett, speculation is starting to mount concerning the quality of the script or perhaps the unlikely mix of genres the movie involves. Based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s best selling fusion of Austen’s 19th century comedy of manners and romance with a nightmarish horde of flesh-eating undead, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not your average zombie movie.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly back in April this year, Gillespie was fired up about the project.
“I love the propriety of the Jane Austen novels, which you want to keep,” Gillespie said. “The language, what’s appropriate and not appropriate. The customs, and the hierarchy. They had very witty dialogue with a lot of undertones to it. You need the juxtoposition. There’s going to be a strong gothic undertone, which ties the two genres together. It’s more in the world of [Tim Burton’s 1999] Sleepy Hollow, where it’s somewhat stylized. We have that creative license because of the zombies. I’ll certainly do my homework and explore genres to see what might work, but it’s going to have that strong gothic sense, I think.”
Perhaps tellingly, Gillespie is not the first to try to make a go of this movie. Both David O Russell and Mike White were attached to direct before him, with Russell leaving over a budget dispute and White leaving to focus on Enlightened, a HBO comedy series. Let’s hope a lead is found soon before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies loses its latest director as well.