Army of the Dead is gearing up to make its debut in theaters and on Netflix, and Zack Snyder's zombie movie has definitely had a lot worth buzzing about. In addition to the very plot and concept of the movie, one piece of behind-the-scenes trivia went viral last year, when it was revealed that Snyder would be recasting Chris D'Elia's role in the film with comedian Tig Notaro, after a series of sexual harassment allegations surfaced against D'Elia. The decision took on another level due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with social distancing guidelines leading to Notaro's sequences being filmed alone and digitally inserted into the film. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, producer Deborah Snyder spoke about the creative process of that, and how Zack approached it all.
"It’s so daunting," Snyder explained. "And let’s couple that with an actual pandemic that we are dealing with. We shot for 14 days to get Tig in the movie. Had it not been the pandemic, we probably would have brought the whole cast in and reshot scenes with everybody. But we didn’t have that luxury. We were trying to keep it small. We were trying to keep it safe. The studios were just making deals with all the unions of what the rules of going back to filming would be. As one of the first, we were very conservative in our approach, so we decided to shoot it all against green screen. Thank God, Marcus (Taormina), our visual effects supervisor, is amazing. We sat with him and Zack and figured it out. Every shot had a methodology and we figured out what we would shoot against green screen. We built the rooftop set and then Ana (de la Reguera) came back for one scene. We did want a comedian and John Papsidera, our casting agent, had the idea of Tig. Immediately we were all like, 'Oh my god, that’s such a great idea.' The weird thing is, she got to see the movie. How often do you get to decide you want to be a part of something and it’s already made? The big joke was, it was only her for 14 days. She was like, 'I felt like I was the star of the movie and then I realized I was out of focus in a lot of the scenes.'"
"Even though we erased the other actor, the way the camera moves, the way the lighting is interacting, there were so many technical considerations," Snyder continued. "It was probably one of the most difficult things I’d ever shot just in terms of how technical it was. There was very little wiggle room. We had people on set compositing it to mock it up as we went so we could make sure we were doing it right. Zack always likes cutting at the same time (as filming). We rarely have additional photography, because he has so much coverage and he has it storyboarded, so we know what it is. He’ll see the scene cut before we break down a set so if he wants to add something, he usually does during the body of the shoot. With this, it could have been a great take performance-wise, but it had to match up technically with the handheld camera and all the other things. So it was challenging."
In Army of the Dead, following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted. The film's cast also alongside Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana De La Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Raul Castillo, Huma S. Qureshi, Samantha Win, Richard Cetrone, and Michael Cassidy.
Army of the Dead will be released on Netflix on May 21st.