You can’t keep a good zombie down. Ever since Seth Grahame-Smith’s goofy Jane Austen spoof Pride and Prejudice and Zombies became a surprise hit back in 2009, conversations about turning the Victorian horror-comedy into a movie have been taking place. Directors like Craig Gillespie and Mike White have come and gone, along with a slew of female stars like Blake Lively, Emma Stone and Lily Collins. The one constant throughout the film’s development has been its script, which David O. Russell penned back when he was set to direct. Today, however, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has finally firmed up.
Downton Abbey actress Lily James will lead the film, along with fellow Brit Sam Riley (Maleficent) and Australian actress Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows, In Time). James will portray Elizabeth Bennet, with Riley playing her suitor Darcy and Heathcote on board as one of the Bennet sisters (it’s not too much of a stretch to guess that she’s playing Jane, though that hasn’t yet been confirmed). Jack Huston is also in talks for a role, presumably that of Mr. Bingley.
Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down, Charlie St Cloud) is directing from Russell’s script, which Steers has rewritten since coming aboard. The movie is expected to maintain the story of Grahame-Smith’s novel, in which lovers from different social classes in 19th century England are faced with the challenge of an army of the “sorry stricken” – aka zombies.
The source material is a very funny read – to give you some insight into its approach to Austen’s novel, the Bennet sisters wield katanas and fend off an army of highly trained ninjas at one point – so it’s very exciting to see that a film adaptation is finally getting off the ground. Additionally, James, Riley and Heathcote are all very talented thesps, and their involvement has this project off to a promising start.
Principal photography is due to commence on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in September, with a release in 2015 tentatively planned.