Things are finally heating up on the set of Warm Bodies. For quite some time now all we knew was that Isaac Marion’s book was going to be adapted to film by 50/50 director Jonathan Levine, and Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer were set to star. Five months later, reports come in that Rob Corddry is joining the cast and now we get the film’s first truly big name, John Malkovich.
Hoult will lead as R, a zombie who doesn’t just crave brains and roam around aimlessly. He’s got a bit of a capacity to think and that leads him to develop a crush on a living girl, Julie (Palmer). In this alternate world, the zombies congregate in a local airport and actually have a bit of a hierarchy with “The Boneys” at the top. They’re the most decayed of the zombies, hence the name, and they run the show as far as mindless semi-zombies are capable.
When word first got out that Malkovich was in talks for a role via Variety, many sites pegged him as the villain and I instantly assumed Malkovich was stepping in as a Boney. Thankfully, that’s not the case as that would come nowhere close to doing Malkovich’s talent justice; the actor is in final negotiations to assume the role of General Grigio, Julie’s father.
While the zombies are moaning away at a local airport, Grigio is at the helm of the human’s home base, a shelter in a giant sports stadium. Yes, Grigio is a tough guy with an agenda, but I wouldn’t peg him as a villain. When reading the book, I always pictured someone along the lines of Stephen Lang courtesy of industry clichés. No, Lang wouldn’t be better for the role, but had someone suggested Malkovich for the part, I’d write it off as a lofty hope. However, clearly that’s just about a done deal and we’ve got an Academy Award nominee on board.
Forget the fact that Malkovich will do a fantastic job as Grigio, this is simply a big step for the film in terms of setting itself apart from the standard teen-orientated supernatural films we’re drowning in. This isn’t some glorified tale of a sparkly vampire getting the girl; it’s gritty, intriguing and particularly thoughtful. Now, more so than ever, Warm Bodies is a film to keep an eye on.