Pride and Prejudice may be all about the Bennet sisters, but there are some great male characters in the classic Jane Austen novel as well, and luckily they’ve been ported over to the book and now film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Douglas Booth (Jupiter Ascending) plays Mr. Bingley, a wealthy, charming young man who is drawn to Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcote), while Matt Smith (Doctor Who) portrays Parson Collins, a fawning, obsequious and not particularly bright chap whose proposal of marriage to Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is not as warmly received as he might have hoped.
And did we mention that they have to contend with a zombie apocalypse in addition to the strong-willed, fiercely independent Bennet sisters? Screen Rant spoke with Smith and Booth about adding the walking dead to a piece of classical literature, who would survive a real-life zombie plague and more.
When you were kids, was the original Pride and Prejudice the book in high school that you were supposed to read but didn’t, or the girls’ book or that kind of thing?
Douglas Booth: Yeah, it’s on a lot of reading lists in England so actually, yeah, a lot of us had to read it at school. And I kind of did watch the BBC miniseries with my mum. But I never would have probably gone to see a Pride and Prejudice movie in the cinema when I was a teenager, but I definitely would have gone to see a Pride and Prejudice with Zombies movie! So it’s kind of cool that it may bring like a new, different audience to…
Matt Smith: Classical literature.
Are there any other literary classics that you think could benefit from adding zombies?
Smith: We were just having this conversation, actually.
Booth: We get asked this question every time and every time we stumble across what would be the best one. But I think you can add zombies to every story and it would just like --
Smith: Spice it up.
Booth: It would be interesting to think, how would the characters in that story have to adapt, and how would that story change if there was a zombie apocalypse happening at the same time.
Smith: You could add it to a lot of Dickens.
Booth: That’s a good one. I hadn’t thought Dickens yet.
Smith: Great Expectations with Zombies.
Booth: That would be really interesting.
Matt, we spoke a bit earlier and you mentioned getting to do a lot of improv. Did you get to play this in different ways, in terms of maybe playing it straight, then maybe camping it up a bit and being a little more broad, or did you stick to one tone throughout?
Booth: Well, we played kind of different characters, but I mean, Burr (Steers, director) always said that the “wink” was that we weren’t winking at the camera and being like, “Oh, we’re in a zombie film.” We were in a real film, with real characters, playing out real things, and the quirky, funny camp thing is that there is this extraordinary circumstance of the zombie apocalypse taking place. But Burr also allows for you to play around as well.
Smith: Yeah, yeah, I think it’s always good on any film set to get different versions of the same take sort of thing, do you know what I mean? So yeah, mix it up to just give people different options.
It’s interesting that there’s a lot of discussion going on nowadays about roles for women in film, and yet the women in this film were written 200 years ago -- and in this version they’re almost superheroes in a way.
Smith: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. And also, I think, there’s a lot of talk at the moment, isn’t there, about equality in film. A lot of my female friends who are actors are like, you know, it’s good when there are parts like this out there, where it is the women kicking ass and --
Booth: It’s refreshing, and it’s sexy.
Smith: It’s really sexy.
If there was a real-life zombie apocalypse, which one of you would do okay?
Smith: Me. (laughs)
Booth: I’d come to Matt’s house.
Smith: We’d hole up in the church, old boy, wouldn’t we?
Booth: I never even thought about that -- Matt plays Parson Collins and he lives in a renovated church.
You have your survival tactics down?
Smith: I live in a renovated church and it’s also quite high up, isn’t it, so there’d be no getting in. And the doors are quite thick.
Booth: There’s lots of sort of different weapons and --
Smith: Yeah, I’d just sort of get, you know, a lot of food delivered and watch a lot of football --
Booth: Who’d be delivering the food?
Smith: I don’t know. Maybe I’d get some (inaudible) delivery sorted. And then just have a sniper and snipe off any zombies who came close.
Last question: what are your favorite zombie films?
Smith: 28 Days Later.
Booth: Shaun of the Dead, I love.
Smith: And Shaun of the Dead’s great, actually.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies opens in theaters February 5, 2016.