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Douglas Booth and Matt Smtih: The Men of Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

February 03, 2016

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By: Lynn Barker

In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the original Jane Austen characters are much the same but tweaked by their zombie apocalypse circumstances. Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) is still pompous and likes his baked goods but is made hilarious by ex “Dr. Who” Matt. Mr. Bingley ([kwlink 28614]Douglas Booth[/kwlink]) is handsome as ever and still Mr. Nice Guy to a fault. He’s not all that up to fighting zombies either.

Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) on the battlefieldMr. Bingley (Douglas Booth) on the battlefieldCourtesy of Sony Pictures

The two talented actors reveal that many of the cast members were friends in real life before shooting and we learn that the guys were thrilled that the girls in the movie do most of the heavy stunts, martial arts and action for a change.

Matt Smith enters the interview room drinking coconut water which some people think is yucky. We ask if he likes it. “I’m hoping to rehydrate. I never had it but it’s in an attractive bottle so that’s enough for me”.

Q: Matt, did you do much improvising because some of your lines sounded like they might have been made up on the spot?

  • Matt: Yeah. I made it all up and I went back to the book. When I read the original novel, I found out that (Mr. Collins) was really interested in eating and muffins and scones and things like that, so I thought I might try and get some of that texture into the piece. I’m pleased you noticed, actually, because sometimes you think a people are not going to notice that sort of stuff.

Q: It’s a great performance the way you would come in with one word or one line that would crack everyone in the audience up.

  • Matt: I snuck out halfway through the screening. I find the whole process of watching oneself (on screen) quite a weird thing, anyway.

Q: Was it tough to let “Dr. Who” go? (A new actor is now playing him).

  • Matt: Yeah, of course, because it was a wonderful job. It was four very interesting years of my life but it dominates your life and it was a very difficult part to give up because it’s such a brilliant part but I sort of thought I had to move on and try something else.

Matt as Dr. WhoMatt as Dr. WhoCourtesy of BBC

Q: Can you both talk about what you think of taking this classic novel and mashing it up with zombies?

  • Douglas: It was a lot of fun. I was slightly confused when I first saw the title because we revere the original text so much in England. I actually heard that it was a book. I’ve got a lot of American friends and it was a New York Times bestseller, I believe. But, once I read the script, it was brilliant. It was really good fun wasn’t it? And, it had amazing actors attached to it and a lot of my friends attached to it as well so I was like, this could be fun.

Douglas (right) with Sam Riley as DarcyDouglas (right) with Sam Riley as DarcyCourtesy of Sony Pictures
 

Q: Did you go back and read the “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” book once you knew you had the part?

  • Douglas: Yeah, I’d heard of it but I hadn’t read it before and went and read it and it was really good fun and then most of us went and dipped into the original text to get a better understanding of our characters.  A lot of Matt’s hilarious lines were improvised from him reading that Parson Collins loved muffins.
  • Matt: Then I tried to build up my part.
  • Douglas: Which you did successfully.

Matt Smith as Mr. CollinsMatt Smith as Mr. CollinsCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Did you find anything Douglas when you went back to reading the book to beef up Mr. Bingley?

  • Matt: I love that moment where there is a zombie there and you are about to shoot him and you get the gun and you are like  (shaking his hands in front of him and looking nervous).
  • Douglas: Oh yeah, just subtleties about his relationship with Jane. You don’t see it on screen so much but the understanding of what Darcy said to him about leaving and just filling Bingley’s head with thoughts, really.

Q: Is it like you can’t escape Victorian England with all these classic books?

  • Matt: We can’t escape period dramas, can we, which it’s why it’s nice if there’s zombies in it because it refreshes the “periodness” of the drama and allows the tone to be something else. As an actor, it allows you to make bold choices. (For example), when the Bennet sisters are talking about getting a husband, they’re talking about getting a husband under the circumstances of the (zombie) apocalypse, which somehow makes that more interesting.

Mr. Collins (Matt Smith) chats with Mr. DarcyMr. Collins (Matt Smith) chats with Mr. DarcyCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: The girls get to do most of the action fighting in this. Did you two get any training?

  • Matt: We didn’t get much combat in the movie.
  • Douglas: The most training I did was just testing out my horse and riding him around which is always a pleasure because I love to ride. Some of horses were the same as for “Cinderella.” I rode Prince Charming’s, Richard Madden’s horse, from “Cinderella.” In England, these horses get around. (laughter).

Q: Usually the actresses in a period drama don’t have to train for action scenes. Was it interesting that you guys didn’t have the training and had to listen to them complain?

  • Matt: Yeah, actually I think that’s one of the virtues of the film in that the girls are the kick ass, sexy heroines. They do all the fighting and I think there’s something in that.
  • Doug: Yeah.

Q: Would you like to see that happen in real life? You stand back and the girls can fight the zombies when the apocalypse comes.

  • Matt: Absolutely. Exactly, and I’ll just sit here and eat muffins!

Sam Riley as Mr. DarcySam Riley as Mr. DarcyCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Would either of you have made a better Mr. Darcy than Sam Riley?

  • Matt: Absolutely not. Sam’s perfect.
  • Douglas: Have you heard his voice? I’d have to wait like eight or ten years before I could sound like that.
  • Matt: He’s wonderfully cast as Darcy (with his) big handsome brown eyes and all that.

Q: How much rehearsal time did you have before shooting?

  • Matt: A week of rehearsal. What’s nice about that dynamic and that energy is that we’re all friends. Actually, me and Doug worked together twice before and we’re friends off screen and I think that energy somehow bleeds into the film.
  • Douglas: Me and Matt and Lily (James) were on holiday in India over Christmas and New Year’s. We’re all really good friends. I’ve known her since she was at drama school. We share a mutual best friend, Freddie Fox.

Douglas Booth as Mr. BingleyDouglas Booth as Mr. BingleyCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: There is a bit of an epilogue in this as the credits are rolling. Does that leave things open for you guys to come back and possible reprise the roles? Have you signed on for three?

  • Douglas: We haven’t, no.
  • Matt: If it’s a success, I’m sure they’ll call us back for another one and if the story was good you couldn’t get a better cast. It was so much fun. I’d be up for it.
  • Douglas: Yeah.

Q: What is your opinion of the male characters of Jane Austen upon whose work this was built?

  • Matt: I think the characters are really strong and clear. They’re interesting. For instance, my character, the interesting thing is nobody will marry him. Each of them has a clear spin. Darcy is a very interesting character. Wickham’s an interesting character. They’re well-drawn.
  • Douglas:  Yeah. You often say, “I’d love to time travel ,” but I think you can. The books are there. You can just go straight into someone’s mind. She was writing about the problems that she faced in the society around her. It’s like going back in time. It’s time travel. That’s why I personally like those books.
  • Matt: She must have been infamous in her day, right? Maybe she wasn’t. But she wrote (sounds like) seven books.

Douglas Booth as RomeoDouglas Booth as Romeo

Q: These books have such a big fan base Jane Austen and then “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. Have you gotten any feedback from fans about you playing your characters? Have you seen any of their social media comments?

  • Matt: I haven’t seen anything yet.
  • Douglas: I’ve seen bits, yes. You type in the #PPZMovie. They’ve had some screenings and seems it’s gone down really well. It was cool. We’ve been doing press with young high school and college journalists and they really loved it and really responded to it. It’s great to bring that kind of audience to Austen.
  • When I was a teenager I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to see a Jane Austen movie but I 100 percent would have gone to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies so it introduces younger audiences to these great tales and if it makes them curious about it, that’s just brilliant. Hopefully, fingers crossed, that seems to be the case of how they’ve responded genuinely. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is in theaters on February 5th!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies PosterPride and Prejudice and Zombies PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

** Rated PG-13**

 

Have Your Say

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