Vampires may have taken a bite out of the popular zeitgeist in the past couple of years, but the nearly $25 million in ticket sales that greeted the opening of Zombieland, the Woody Harrelson/Jesse Eisenberg horror/comedy, as it shuffled into theaters this past weekend just goes to prove that while flesh-eating ghouls might be (un)dead, you should never count them out. This past Saturday, I sat down with Harrelson and Eisenberg in a conference room at the Four Seasons to pick their brains (a favorite delicacy of the zombie horde) as they rolled through Boston on a promotional stop for the film, which was screened later that evening in front of a crowd of 600, at least half of them decked out and moaning in full zombie regalia at the AMC/Loews Boston Common. Our freewheeling sit-down ranged from an avoidance of uttering the name of a famous actor or actress who cameos in the film to our inability to come up with a punch line for a joke. (For the record, I submit: “If you get one, chances are, you’re gonna go in and out, up and down, all night long.”) The following is a lightly abridged transcript of our chat.
BRETT MICHEL: Woody, the last time I saw you in Boston, you were completely blotto at the Tonight Show Cheers finale, presented on live TV.
WOODY HARRELSON: Oh, yeah. That’s true. I can tell you with confidence that that’s true.
BM: And Jesse, you’re going to begin shooting The Social Network [David Fincher’s adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires, about the founders of Facebook] here soon?
JESSE EISENBERG: Yeah, in Cambridge.
BM: When’s that starting production?
JE: Um, mid-October. But only for a little bit. It’s mostly in LA. It takes place in Boston, but they pretend. I mean, they’ll use UCLA rooms — unfortunately.
BM: That came together pretty fast! The book just hit a few weeks back. Aaron Sorkin penned the script?
JE: They probably were writing them at the same time.
BM: Have your read the book?
JE: Yeah, it’s different. It’s quite different.
BM: Now let’s see: Adventureland, Zombieland —
WH: I never thought of that, dang it! [Laughs.] Because you’ve got the Adventureland, and now you’ve got the Zombieland!
BM: What’s the next “—land” movie going to be?
JE: Well, I thought of a funny answer last night, luckily, at the tip of my toes, that when we make a sequel to this one — that’ll be the third one — well, not funny, so much as possibly true. They’re not making a sequel to Adventureland because it was an autobiographical story.
BM: Yeah, but it was great!
JE: And no one watched it.
WH: No, but I was telling him, like, I can’t tell you how many people have been saying they saw Adventureland. That’s why it’s good. You know, if a movie is funny, it does have a good chance of getting seen, even if it’s on DVD. It feels like a lot of people are seeing it now on DVD.
JE: People talk about independent movies like they are morally superior, you know? Are we doing the right thing in the world? And that’s just part of it, maybe it’s true, it’s like by putting something out that’s more, I don’t know, quiet, right? Do you know what I mean?