Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Just in time for Valentine's Day!

“Pride and Prejudice” is one of those timeless stories that is forever being adapted for the screen, whether it’s the beloved five-hour BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth, the 2005 Kiera Knightley film, or modern interpretations such as “Austenland” or “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” But even with the countless works inspired by the novel, it’s safe to say there has never been a film version quite like this. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” – yes, you read that correctly – is now in theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day, and it has all the elements and characters you fondly remember: A strong willed Elizabeth Bennett, an ill-tempered (but swoon-worthy) Mr. Darcy…and brain-eating undead.

“I actually have to admit, when I saw that title, I thought it sounded ludicrous,” says Lily James, who plays the iconic role of Elizabeth Bennett. “And then I read it, and it was one of those rare times when you read a script that you actually really want to be a part of, and I thought the script was just brilliant. I think ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has always needed a few zombies.”

In “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” everything is rooted in the original world created by Austen, only in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, the issues at the heart of the story – the place of women in society, finding an eligible suitor – take on an entirely different context.

“It’s so insane that Mrs. Bennett is so focused on finding her daughters husbands when any minute they could all die,” laughs James. “And I think that’s where the humor comes in, and that’s what’s really clever about combining these worlds.”

For Douglas Booth, who plays the handsome, agreeable Mr. Bingley, it was important to him that the story remain completely true to that of the original novel, and that they existed in this re-imagined world as Austen’s original characters, something the film excels at.

“It was always important to [Director Burr Steers] that we kind of existed in that world as [the ‘Pride and Prejudice’] characters, and the zombies were a circumstance that would then affect them,” Booth says. “So it was fun to explore how these characters that you kind of knew and loved are interpretations of how they would react to the circumstances, and how the scenes from the original novel would translate and change. “

But when it comes down to it, how will Austen enthusiasts respond to this very different take on one of the world’s most beloved novels?

“It’s enjoyable to watch classic works re-imagined and turned on their heads and set in different worlds,” James says. “I think this helps bring out and highlight certain parts of the story.”

Matt Smith (“Dr.Who”), who plays the endlessly annoying Mr.Collins, was in full agreement. “I think it’s a testament to the sort of universality and the timelessness of the story as a whole that it stands up to a zombie apocalypse,” Smith says. “By the end you’re still going, ‘oh please get together – and don’t get killed.’”

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