Finding love is never easy, even under the best circumstances. Add zombies into the mix, and you have “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”
Adapted from Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling parody of Jane Austen’s beloved novel of manners, the action-horror film depicts Regency England under siege by zombies, which forces the social classes to set aside their, ahem, prejudices to unite to defeat the undead scourge.
Douglas Booth (“The Pillars of the Earth,” “Jupiter Ascending”) plays the endearing Mr. Bingley, a wealthy young gentleman who falls in love with Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcote), despite her upbringing. Along with Jane Bennet (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), they must overcome the hordes of zombies if their love is to survive.
Booth spoke with SPINOFF about his love of genre material, why Bingley might be a better lover than a fighter, and testing for the role of Green Goblin in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”
Spinoff: How aware were of the source material before signing on to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”?
Douglas Booth: I had heard about the book. I had heard people talk about it, and I heard people say really good things. So, I gave it a read and it was brilliant. Then, a really interesting cast was attracted to it. I just wanted to be involved. It seemed like the right thing to do and a lot of fun.
You are a bit of a chameleon when it comes to your acting choices. Were you looking for a genre piece to sink your teeth into?
Yeah, I love genre movies and I love the fans. They seem to be such passionate and cool people. One of the first movies I made was a very teen-based movie called “LOL” with Miley Cyrus. That wasn’t my first job, but my first big movie, so there’s always been a young teenage-girl fanbase. What I wanted were some proper comic book dudes to be like, “Yeah, I like him in that.” It’s cool to try and do more genre stuff that appeals to a different type of people.
Have you auditioned for any superhero blockbusters, then?
I screen-tested to be the Green Goblin in the last “Spider-Man” movie. That gave me a taste of it; it was super-exciting. It seems you sign on to those things and they become a big part of your life and a big part of your calendar. I enjoy the independence of doing lots of little things here and there. I’ve played Boy George and so many different parts. I enjoy that, but I would love to throw myself into one of those projects at the right time. I’m 22 now and feel very honored to be doing all the work I’m doing. I’m still just learning and I know the right thing will come at the right time.
Introduce us to your “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” character and where he fits into this period/zombie mashup.
I play Bingley, who is Darcy’s best friend. He falls for Jane. It’s a really interesting dynamic, because lots of people around him – his sisters, his family and Darcy – don’t think she’s good enough for him. In that period, these men, like the Bingleys and Darcys, are the celebrities of the age. People who are in the upper class often find people attractive who don’t play to that. Jane always treats him slightly coldly, but not intentionally. She’s very sweet, kind and shy. I think that’s why he falls for her.
Normally, someone of his wealth wouldn’t even consider having a pairing with a family like that, but he doesn’t care. He sort of opens up his world to them. In the movie, it’s sad because Darcy dissuades him from falling for her. It’s a heartbreaking moment when you see the film. We have this conversation like there are no zombies in the movies. There’s a whole bunch of other things going on.
Nonetheless, with zombies roaming the land, how much trouble does Bingley get into?
He gets into some pretty scrappy moments. He’s definitely not as good of a fighter as Darcy or the other girls, but he is an officer. He does get involved. He gets himself into a few scrapes.
Obviously, romance is an integral component to this movie, but do you consider it scary as well?
I would hope so. Looking at some of those people on set, it was pretty terrifying. I thought the prosthetics were brilliant. We had this Academy Award-winning prosthetics artist working on it. Fingers crossed that it’s scary. I feel what’s great about this is it’s quite human. At first, you can’t tell they are zombies. They can actually live in society and that creates paranoia. They develop from there. Other zombie movies that have recently been out are so CG and in your face. This feels more real.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” opens Friday nationwide.