Emma Stone has done a slew of romantic comedies, but in Zombieland she gets to kick zombie-ass as Wichita, a con artist who travels the zombie-ridden country, that used to be known as America, with her younger sister, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
Joining forces with the AK-toting Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an obsessive-compulsive young man who has a multitude of rules to outsmart the zombies, they find that together they have a chance of survival.
You got to kick some serious Zombie butt. Was that part of the role attractive to you? I don’t think you’ve done a big action part.
I’m terrible at action. I really am. I’m just bad at action movies. It was something I’d never done before and I loved the character. I just can’t run to save my life. I didn’t limber up or do cardio and I hurt my muscle. I had to do ultra-sound physical therapy while we were shooting.
And did you also hurt your hand?
Yeah. It was really nice of Rubin (Fleischer, the director) after every take when I was crying and in so much pain, he’d say, “You’re not cut out for this. That looked horrible”. It’s true. I’m horrible (at action).
How can you identify with your character if she’s so good at action and you feel you aren’t?
I was living vicariously through her. There’s one part of me that feels brave like a bad ass in a situation where you feel out of control. I just tried to key into that and do that constantly instead of just as a fleeting feeling in me. But there were also parts of her that were vulnerable and scared and human. She wasn’t brave all the time. There was a lot about her that I could relate to as a human being.
With all the action in the movie, there are also some very funny scenes, was it hard not to laugh?
Woody always keeps a straight face. I never keep a straight face, ever, ever. I break all the time. I should not be in comedies, or action films… I shouldn’t be doing movies (she laughs). Any time anybody does improv I laugh, when a joke is funny I laugh. I’m like an audience. You should just bounce it off of me. If it’s going to be funny, I will laugh.
What is your favorite zombie kill in the film?
I like when I get to butt a zombie in the back of the head with my shotgun. It also has the added effect of being in slow-motion in the movie as he falls. He really got hurt, but I never saw him bleed.
Did you and Abigail work out a back story as to why the two sisters are doing cons even before America becomes Zombieland
I think they were both very smart characters. In the script, it didn’t quite make it into the movie, but there’s an issue with our father so we’ve been away from home for a while before the Zombieland even occurred. So we needed a way to make money and they’re pretty smart girls and there’s not much a 12-year-old can do for work so as cool as Abigail is, she can con. So I think that’s why we started, we were just trying to survive on our own. They had survival instincts kicking in even before Zombieland.
What was it like working with Abigail Breslin as your little sister.
We went by Emma-Gail. She was just amazing, you couldn’t ask for anybody better to play your little sister. We got along so well and I felt really, really lucky. She’s not just a cool kid, she’s like a really cool person. She’s like a small person and it seems like she’s incredibly developed. But she also really likes Twilight and the Jonas Brothers, so she’s normal. But every chance I got to hang out with her was so much fun, it was a blast, I was incredibly lucky.
Any final thoughts on the movie?
I loved that this movie is funny, but not a rip-roaring slapstick, and it’s scary, but not a terrifying nightmare-inducer. It manages to strike a balance between those and be its own thing. It’s a multifaceted zombie movie. Who knew you could make that?