While the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin helped make Zombieland become a major hit, one of the most memorable sequences in the film is when our survivors cross paths with a still-living Bill Murray, though co-writer Paul Wernick took to Twitter to confirm that the scene was originally envisioned with Patrick Swayze in the role. Sadly, the actor's pancreatic cancer made him too sick to even meet with the filmmakers about the opportunity, with Wernick also revealing the various other actors that were considered to take over the role before Murray took on the memorable cameo.
"Since we're all currently living in #zombieland, [co-writer Rhett Reese] & I thought it'd be fun to take you behind the curtain, back to the early days," the writer shared on Twitter. "The role Bill Murray played started in the original draft as Patrick Swayze. Patrick tragically got sick and we never had the [opportunity] to offer him the part. But we did WRITE IT."
The filmmaker added that, in addition to Swayze and Murray, there were versions of the sequence that featured Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Mark Hamill, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Joe Pesci, Matthew McConaughey, and more.
Since we’re all currently living in #zombieland, @rhettreese & I thought it’d be fun to take you behind the curtain, back to the early days. The role Bill Murray played started in the original draft as Patrick Swayze. Patrick tragically got sick and we never had the opp (1)— Paul Wernick (@paulwernick) March 19, 2020
to offer him the part. But we did WRITE IT. Along with a dozen or so, including for @therock @kevinbacon @HamillHimself @theslystallone, JCVD, Pesci, McConaughey among others. @rhettreese and I are going to post a new scene every day, as written, just, well, just because… (2)— Paul Wernick (@paulwernick) March 19, 2020
Rhett Reese previously revealed that Murray signed on only days before the scene was set to be shot and came to be thanks to Harrelson's friendship with the actor in the years since shooting Kingpin together.
"We were two days away from shooting the scene," Rheese detailed back in 2016. "We had written an alternate scene with no celebrity, where they just fought a bunch of zombies in this mansion. Paul, to his great credit, doesn't like to take no for an answer, walked up to Woody Harrelson on the set and said Woody, anyone else, do you have any other ideas? He said two guys. He said Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray, and we were like yes, and yes. But Dustin Hoffman couldn't do it, but Bill Murray said send me the script."
Despite Murray having no agent or direct contact information, Harrelson ending up making the connection and cameo happen.
Do you wish one of the other celebrities had appeared in the film? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!