It seems that virtually every popular young actress out there has been offered – or rumored to be up for – the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet in the film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Regency period romance-meets-the-zombpocalypse novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Natalie Portman and Emma Stone both took a pass on the part, while established starlets like Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis – not to mention, increasingly-popular actresses such as Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) – were all either rumored as possibilities to portray Miss Bennet… or, likewise, reportedly said “no thanks,” when offered the role.
UPDATE: Variety‘s Justin Kroll has confirmed (via Twitter) that Lively has passed on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The film’s inability to secure a marketable lead actress has delayed the start of production on Zombies – which Gillespie had originally planned to start principal photography on this past summer. Said delay contributed to rumors that the filmmaker had left the project, about a month ago.
However, the director remains onboard for the tongue-in-cheek genre mashup, working from a script penned by onetime Zombies helmer David O. Russell (who eventually left the project over a budget disagreement) – that Gillespie and his Fright Night scriber (Marti Noxon) have slightly retooled.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies may sound like the title of a cheap direct-to-DVD horror flick, but it’s being handled by some pretty solid creative talent. However, the innately ludicrous nature of the project is likely part of the reason why so many actresses have decided the film isn’t a good fit for them, so to speak.
One of Grahame-Smith’s other popular novels – the horror/historical revisionist piece, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – is also making the jump to the big screen, but did not encounter the pre-production delays that have plagued Zombies (pun not intended), prior to the start of filming. Not so shockingly, though, that movie never looked to bring A-list acting talent onboard. Instead, that production’s cast ended up being composed of either up-and-coming thespians or experienced character actors.
That’s all to say: Lively clearly plans to have a career beyond Gossip Girl, going by her well-regarded dramatic turn in Ben Affleck’s The Town last year; her involvement with the (critically and financially, lackluster) Green Lantern movie, this past summer; and starring in Oliver Stone’s Savages project next year. Whether the actress will be willing to tread into intentional camp territory with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – or stick to either serious roles or parts in potential franchise starters – remains to be seen.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is slated to (finally) begin production by early 2012. We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the project, in the meantime.