To say that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has struggled to become a film would be putting it mildly. First announced roughly five years ago, the adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's zombie-laden revision of the Jane Austen classic has seen directors come and go, before finally snagging director Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) last year.
After that there was a steady stream of casting news; first Lily James (Downton Abbey) and Sam Riley (Maleficent) were cast as leads Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, then Matt Smith (Doctor Who) as Mr. Collins, followed by Game of Thrones' Lena Heady and Charles Dance in as of yet unrevealed roles. Filming then began late last month.
With the beleaguered production finally underway, EW has our first look at the Bennet sisters is all their sword-wielding, ass-kicking glory. Check out the first image from the set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies below:
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Much like Austen's original novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in early 19th century England, and the decorum and propriety of that society originally captured in her classic novel is still realized in Grahame-Smith's revision. In fact, much of Austen's text remains intact while Grahame-Smith (mirroring her prose) inserted the passages about zombies and the Bennet sisters' elaborate martial arts and weapons training.
That adherence to the world of Austen's original novel will be also be present in the film. Last we heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' script it had been written by then director David O. Russell, but EW is now reporting Steers has since rewritten the script with a stronger focus on realism than previous versions.
"The first thing I did was reinsert all the Pride and Prejudice beats," says Steers, also revealing they've beefed up the roles of Darcy and George Wickham - another fellow vying for Elizabeth's affections, who will be played by Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire).
For some, the notion of zombies in Regency-era England is too far-fetched (even though it's no less outrageous than zombies in any time period, seeing as they're fictional) and the inclusion of the undead in Austen's novel is tampering with a classic. And while that's a valid opinion to have, Lily James doesn't find an Elizabeth Bennet who arms herself to battle a zombie horde all that incongruous with Austen's character, saying:
"Even in the original story, Elizabeth’s a fighter and beyond her contemporaries in her ambitions and her ideas of women. She’s a badass warrior. She’s a ninja."
While Austen may have armed Elizabeth with her words and wit, Grahame-Smith and Steers have given her a blade. Something Austen herself would likely have seen as perfectly sensible, given the zombie apocalypse raging through the English countryside.
What do you make of our first look at the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Do you have faith the film will be an adaptation fans of both Jane Austen's classic and the zombie genre will enjoy? Drop us a line in the comments below!
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for the latest on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is expected to release some time in 2015.