How would you describe the character of R?
The most compelling thing about R is his need to connect. He wants to connect with the other zombies in the airport, even though they’ve got nothing to really say to him and can’t even say their names. He wants to connect with Julie and to feel alive. That’s one of the most human instincts ever – to want to feel a part of something and to connect with another human.”
What made this part stand out for you?
The idea of this zombie who I have to try to make an audience care about and root for, that was interesting to me. In the script, he was very funny and eloquent in his voiceover, so there was a charm about him and a humour as well.
Was it challenging to play a character who barely speaks?
A lot of the time I had to communicate just through movement, my eyes, the things I do, or the records R plays for Julie. The idea of not being able to say what you’re thinking was something that was exciting for me. It makes you think in a slightly different way than you normally would.
Director Jonathan Levine said the first on-screen conversations between R and Rob Corrdry’s M saw you both crack up, but by the fifth take you were both properly groaning…
There were moments where we’d both zone out in each other’s eyes. It was just very weird stuff.
You eat another person’s brains in the film. Is that going to gross out the audiences who come looking for a love story?
That’s a slightly violent moment in the film, where R is cracking Perry’s head open, but it’s shot very beautifully. The way Javier Aguirresarobe framed and lit everything, it just looks fantastic – even the more gruesome aspects, there’s still something very cinematic about them.
Did it gross you out?
Eating brains is fun! They made the brains out of kind of a cold, wet sponge. The idea Jonathan came up with is that because these brains are memories it’s like being alive again, it’s kind of like a drug to the zombies.
A lot of R’s thoughts are revealed via voiceover in the film. Did you have to keep that in mind while acting?
Sometimes the script supervisor read out the voiceover on set so I could hear what the character was meant to be thinking during the scene. It helps with the timing of the scene to make everything link together.
Warm Bodies, which stars Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Cordry, Dave Franco and Analeigh Tipton, opens in cinemas on 1 February in the US and 8 February in the UK.
Warm Bodies: Jonathan Levine interview