Marvel movies have given us plenty to talk about, chief among them the popularization of mid and post-credit sequences. They’re a special treat for film fans, especially those inclined to sit through the credits anyway. But they can also be something of an art form unto themselves, a way to either stick a funny zinger at the end of an epic franchise flick, or to continue the story in some way. If you’ve had a chance to see the horror comedy sequel Zombieland: Double Tap, then you already know the film has its own hilarious post-credits moment, one that brings back a familiar face from the first Zombieland, and has some fun with the zombie mythos in the process. But how did this silly, meta moment come together? Nerdist had a chance to speak with director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick about the post-credits scene, how it evolved from an improvised joke to an entire set piece, and how they chose who got to be involved.
Spoilers for the ending of Zombieland: Double Tap
Bill Murray’s cameo in the first Zombieland is one of the film’s most memorable scenes, so it only made sense that they’d bring the beloved actor back again. The post-credits scene is a flashback to before he meets his untimely end, as he’s promoting an imaginary third Garfield film. At the press event, he’s interviewed by a number of real-life journalists—including Al Roker, Lili Estefan, Josh Horowitz and Grace Randolph—right as the zombie apocalypse is beginning to manifest. Poor Al Roker is the first to go; he throws up and turns evil in the middle of his interview with Murray. Things get out of hand pretty quickly, and Murray takes down the journalists one-by-one as they turn into the flesh-eating undead.
The sequence wouldn’t have been possible without an improvised line in the first Zombieland movie, which allowed the writers to get away with poking fun at Murray’s career. “In the first Zombieland, we realized that Bill Murray is a phenomenal improviser,” explained Reese. “So we had the characters ask him more open-ended questions that he could provide different answers to on every take.”
Cue Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) asking Murray if he had any regrets. “Well, Garfield,” he replies.
“We would have never presumed to write that joke because we’re not going to make fun of Bill Murray’s career,” Reese said of the line. “We’re not gonna mock Garfield because we don’t know if he’d be willing to mock Garfield. But once he mocked it, then it became a two-way street going in the other direction, so we thought for the sequel, oh my gosh, he’s willing to make fun of Garfield. Let’s go ahead and do a Garfield press junket where he’s not that happy to be there.”
The moment is a fun treat for fans, and also allowed for some cameos from actual film journalists, an idea that was actually pretty last minute.
“I can say almost embarrassingly when I first read that scene in a junket it didn’t occur to me to cast real journalists,” Fleischer admitted. “I was going to cast actors to play journalists. I forget who made the suggestion, but they said, ‘Let’s get the people who would naturally be there.'”
Sony’s publicity team reached out to some journalists they had professional relationships with, and had them come in. According to Fleischer, they were all good sports, especially Roker. “It just made it all the more memorable, having the actual people.”
It certainly paid off, and provides a hearty laugh for fans of the movie industry. Check it out for yourself by seeing Zombieland: Double Tap, now in theaters.
Featured Image: Sony Pictures