DAILY DEAD – On February 5th, manners will meet the macabre in Screen Gems’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the upcoming film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name. At Comic-Con last week, Daily Dead participated in roundtable interviews with the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies director and cast, who discussed the film’s physicality, investable characters, formidable zombies, and much more.

Writer/director Burr Steers on his vision for the film:
Burr Steers: It was actually something I knew was out there because a lot of people had taken shots at trying to get it made. I looked at it and had a take on it that I was really confident would work. I went in there and rewrote it, and made it happen.

I saw it in my mind the way you’d approach a play. We’d set up this alternate world where there’s a zombie pandemic that had taken place about 70 years earlier, and everyone had grown up with that element in their lives. Create that world and then stage Pride and Prejudice in that world. In the way that if you were doing Richard III, you might set it up in Germany, to bring something new out of it.

It really was about style coming out of substance and to have you invested in these characters so that when they’re at risk, you really are worried about them. The risk seems real and it’s not cheesy—zombies are dangerous.

Steers on the influence of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend:
Burr Steers: From a literary standpoint, Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend was a big template for me, and the idea that they [the zombies] were still retaining some of who they were as people, that there’s a brain working there. It’s not just some mindless thing walking around waiting to get decapitated. They’re more formidable. Also, now they’re getting to the point where they can pass, and they don’t view themselves as monsters. They view themselves as a competing race with the human race, that was more interesting to me. There is so much in I Am Legend. For all the film versions of it, I don’t think it’s ever been filmed.

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THE INDEPENDENT – Lily James is best known for playing the demure Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, but her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in the upcoming film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is much less decorous.

The actress will play “the most kickass Elizabeth Bennett we’ve ever seen”, according to her Mr Darcy co-star Sam Riley.

The premise of the film sees the Pride and Prejudice characters transported to an alternative version of Regency era England, where an under-class of zombies threaten to overtake the British establishment.

The Bennet sisters are trained in martial arts to help fight the zombies, but Lily James’ Elizabeth likes to use her fighting expertise to defend herself against her suitor as well.

“There is a scene where my proposal to her goes horribly wrong and we end up having a fight in the drawing room where she attacks me with the letter opener and poker,” Riley said.

“I can speak from experience that she’s pretty lethal.”

In typical Mr Darcy fashion, Riley’s character turns his nose up at the martial arts training the Bennet sisters have been given at a Shaolin temple, which he deems inferior to his own.

“We look down on them because we think Japanese style is probably best,” said Riley. “It’s the equivalent of a public school looking down on a grammar school – and those sorts of things are in the film which are quite good fun.”

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ZAP2IT – Ask any of the cast of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” what the coolest part of the film is, and they have one answer: The Bennet sisters. If you thought Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia were awesome in “Pride and Prejudice,” just wait until you see them as butt-kicking, zombie-killing ladies in corsets.

“The five Bennet sisters together are the most lethal, a**-kicking group of girls,” star Lily James tells Zap2it at San Diego Comic-Con. “We felt like the Spice Girls, except for really dangerous.”

Both Jack Huston, who plays Mr. Wickham, and Matt Smith, who plays Mr. Collins, agree wholeheartedly. “I think the coolest thing is you get to see a lot of hot chicks kick zombie a**,” Smith says.

“I don’t think you see that very much, and I think it’s really cool,” Huston notes. “When you watch the movie, it’s not like guys going out and kicking [butt]. It’s like everyone. It’s a free-for-all. Everyone is just kicka** and awesome.”

The synopsis for “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” reads: “A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feist heroine Elizabeth Bennet is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield.”