Everything's coming up roses for Natalie Dormer in 2014. The once and future Game of Thrones actress' role on HBO's sword and sorcery fantasy epic has incrementally expanded since she first appeared in Westeros two years ago; bit by scheming bit, she's made Margery Tyrell into as much of a standout as humanly possible in a series with such a large, recurring ensemble. On top of that, she's also scored a part that spans both the first and second halves of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
All this in addition to being in Academy Award nominated director Lone Scherfig's British indie The Riot Club. That's not a bad position for an up and coming talent like Dormer to be in, but she isn't letting that stop her from finding other ways to leverage her rising cultural cachet; as it so happens, she's just been sought out to star in Patient Zero, an upcoming action thriller/zombie chiller hybrid from Screen Gems.
The film boasts a script from Mike Le and apart from plot basics, there's little else to say about it at present; all this comes courtesy of Deadline, whose description of Patient Zero makes it sound familiar but for a slight twist on genre tropes. When a particularly nasty strain of rabies goes global, the pandemic leads to the evolution of an aggressive offshoot of humanity with a taste for violence. Hope for the future arrives in the form of a survivor who somehow speaks the creatures' language, leading to a search for a potential cure.
Calling Patient Zero a zombie film might lead to some spirited debate among horror purists - we're talking about hordes of cannibalistic mutants rather than droves of mindless undead, after all - but offerings like 28 Days Later still fit the basic categorical bill, even though they're often quite overt about distinguishing their flesh eating monsters as former humans.
Taken at face value, Patient Zero seemingly borrows quite a bit from recent movies like World War Z and even franchises like Resident Evil in terms of scope. Both of those properties go worldwide with their zombie takeovers, though the latter doesn't care so much about finding an antidote to the plague as much as surviving through it; it's the Brad Pitt vehicle that's focused on treating the virus rather than simply adapting to a world overrun by shambling corpses.
Patient Zero could well be a splice of these efforts, among plenty of others, but given how much is known about the production at present, all of this is purely speculative. It's not even clear as to who Dormer will be playing in the film; based on the description, Dormer's quickly increasing visibility, and the fact that she's the movie's first cast member, it's probably a safe bet that she'll be playing the miracle survivor. For all anybody knows, though, she could be playing a more traditional badass type instead.
Of course, Dormer has so much experience playing at diplomacy on Game of Thrones that she's kind of a perfect choice to play the one person who can communicate with Patient Zero's vicious mutant component. We'll see how this shakes out as the movie continues moving through development.
We'll bring you more Patient Zero updates as they become available.