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‘I want Indian actors in my movies’: Zack Snyder

American filmmaker Zack Snyder on his latest ‘zombie-heist’ film 'Army of the Dead'

Written by Ektaa Malik |
Updated: May 23, 2021 8:04:17 am
Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead, Huma Qureshi, Zack Snyder interview, Zack Snyder on Indian actors, Zack Snyder news, sunday eye, eye 2021, indian express newsA still from Army of the Dead

His name accompanies his cut of a film which was released earlier this year on popular demand, Zack Snyder’s Justice League or simply Snyder Cut. He’s the go to name for big-name, big-budget comic book and superhero films. Snyder is back with Army of the Dead, which will stream on Netflix from May 21, and has zombies, mercenaries, millions of dollars and a zombie tiger. The 55-year-old Snyder spoke in a video interview about de-constructing tropes, casting Huma Qureshi and the special playlists he curates for a film. Excerpts:

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Does Army of the Dead bring together two popular cinematic genres — zombie movie and heist film?

It’s dinner theatre (laughs). I have an ironic take on cinema in general. I know everyone takes my films very seriously, like Justice League, etc., but I can see the thread that de-constructs it. I keep an eye on that. What’s a genre? What are the tropes that we just plainly accept? The minute someone says zombie movie, immediately a certain world kicks in, certain concepts kick in, like ‘shoot them in the head etc.’. In Army of the Dead, when Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) explains the rules to Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), we included that in spite of everyone knowing them, as it would seem rude not to. I took it to the edge of breaking every trope that existed, like how they move up the nuclear attack by a day. I personally find that hilarious. The film is relentless, it’s non-stop, like going on a journey where you can’t imagine where it will go, given the twists and turns. You think it’s a zombie film, and then the film tells you, no, that’s not happening.

What kind of statement are you making through the film which shows the zombies as rules-bound, while the humans cannot be trusted?

I feel that the zombies in the film sort of represent an evolution of the human race. They are not destroying the environment, they are not ambitious, they are satisfied with where they are. They might not have a lot of individual rights, or individuality, but they are working on that (laughs).

Parallels can be drawn with the real world, the zombies sequestered in Las Vegas reflect many parts of the world still in lockdown. Was it intentional?

I hope it’s not too relatable, but, at least, we can provide some entertainment. We shot the movie before the pandemic. In the scene with the temperature gun, Theo (Rossi) was like how to do this? We had never had a temperature gun directed at us, but now it’s everywhere. But Huma (Qureshi), in the scene, reacted in a very natural and instinctive way. Huma’s and Theo’s interaction brings out the power equation well. With her being one of them (quarantined humans) was very scary and oppressive.

Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead, Huma Qureshi, Zack Snyder interview, Zack Snyder on Indian actors, Zack Snyder news, sunday eye, eye 2021, indian express news Director Zack Snyder

Tell us about casting Huma Qureshi as Geeta in the film.

As Geeta she’s quite amazing. What was required of her in the scenes was for her to trick us to like her. Added to it is the layer that she is desperate and smart. It all had to be incredibly nuanced and subtle. I was impressed with her, and, in fact, I’ve said it in another interview that I only want Indian actors in my movies now.

We hear Elvis Presley, the music helps to take the mind off the prevalent doom in the film. How did you decide on the soundtrack?

Whenever I make a film, I draw the storyboards myself. While I am drawing it, I create a playlist, and then out of those 40 songs, some 10-12 make it to the film. Then the needle drops end up being the songs that you recognise. The only one that didn’t make it to the film was Leaving Las Vegas because (singer) Sheryl Crow said no.

Big budgets, bigger stars, epics/fantasies seem to go hand in hand with your films. Have you ever considered making a small-budget drama?

I felt like this was a small movie, honestly (laughs). I have a film that I am developing right now, and it’s been in the works for a few years. It’s literally like a $10 million movie. We were trying to do it right now, but COVID-19 made it hard. We were planning to shoot it in the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Chile and Iceland, but it’s a really small drama. A teeny one, with two guys on a journey.

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