Secrets from the Set ‘Pride + Prejudice + Zombies’

7 Secrets from the Set of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

The film adaptation of the parody book by Seth Grahame-Smith (retitled Pride + Prejudice + Zombies for the film) has taken seven years to come to fruit. Filming took place over forty days and on day thirty-three MTV News visited the set. During the interview, with various members of the cast, seven behind the scenes secrets were revealed. The film stars Lilly James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella) as martial arts master Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley (Maleficent) as the aloof Mr. Darcy, and Douglas Booth (Noah, Jupiter Ascending) as the pleasant Mr. Bingly.

The Film will Rewrite British History

Jane Austen’s classic novel is set against the silent backdrop of the Napoleonic War. According to director Burr Steers, PP+Z picks up 80 years after humans were not quite wiped out by zombies. Steers says that although in the parody they are fighting a different war the original themes from Austen class, money, female empowerment are all themes which are kept. Steers also wrote the script and got inspiration from the Black Plague which forced the gentry to move out of towns into the countryside.

It Will Maintain the Romantic Tone of Austen’s Novel

According to MTV News the scene which they watched had all the witty repartee and sentimentality of Austen’s original. Booth said that unlike ‘Saun of the Dead’ no one was winking at the camera. Everyone is playing it straight not for laughs. Booth also went on to say that the social issues, which Austen highlighted, still came through such as Bingley sisters not approving of the Bennet sisters’ fighting zombies like men. Classic Austen fans will still be kept happy however because no parody would dare mess with the OTP to end all OTPs Elizabeth/Darcy, not even zombies.


Smart Zombies

With the plethora of zombies in pop culture, it was important for the PP+Z ones to be different. According to Steers said that he used the idea from Richard Matheson’s book “I Am Legend” that the zombies had gone past the original virus and had found a way to retain some humanity as his model while writing. These zombies see themselves as in competition with humans and try to hide the fact they have turned for as long as they can.

Warrior Bennet Sisters

All five of the Bennet sisters are fighters. James said that while filming Downton Abbey she got out of shape and that it was great to be able to do some action and get fit. There are differences in fighting style between the Bennets and Mr. Darcy. While the Bennets could only afford to go to China to train. Anyone who was anyone, however, went to Japan according to Riley. This means that Darcy has a more brutish fighting style according to Steers.


Elizabeth New Heroine

James said that it was great getting to beat up men and the undead.

“We have the proposal scene where suddenly I start beating the sh-t out of [Darcy], and I just get really swept away in the moment,” she said with a laugh. “Even though they’re plastic swords, they really hurt if you jab someone. I had bruises all up my arm after that. I was kicking him in the shin and actually really near his face, so when we were rehearsing, I was like, ’I just can’t give him a black eye.’”

Darcy is Tough and Damaged

Riley said that he had based his Darcy on a mixture of

“Colin Firth, Sean Connery [as James Bond] from ’Dr. No,’ and the voice of James Mason.”

His Darcy is also severely damaged by the death of his father, whom Darcy himself had to finish off after the man got bitten by a zombie. This has left him “particularly resolute in his hatred of them,” which leads to a minor scuffle with Elizabeth in the scene at the ball.

[About Elizabeth] “When I see how good she is at kicking ass, it sort of does something to Darcy’s insides.”

For Both Horror and Austen Fans

“I’m keeping things that were awesome in [Austen’s] ’Pride and Prejudice,’” Steers said. “The characters are already really extreme… My idea was to do everything as well as I possibly could. Do the zombie movie as well as I possibly could, and do ’Pride and Prejudice’ as well as I could. Why not?”


Pride + Prejudice + Zombies opens to American audiences on the 5th of February.




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