It was Zack Snyder's goal to create a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas for his Army of the Dead movie and that's exactly what the filmmakers did. Snyder not only delivers the terror of a zombie world to the audience which will soon be watching his latest film but also created a full-blown zombie world for the cast of the film. Each cast member has a different moment from the set of Army of the Dead when they realized how fully immersed into this post-apocalyptic zombie setting they truly were. Omari Hardwick, Matthis Schweighöfer, and Nora Arnezeder recalled their "Welcome to the apocalypse," realizations while talking to ComicBook.com.
"The moment where we were really kind of like, 'Oh, here we are. This is make believe on steroids. You are now eight years old, all over again, and they're not in the closet. These monsters are in your face. This is not boogeyman under the bed. This is for real. For real...' That moment would have been when we meet Zeus's team and we're hiding behind the car," Hardwick recalled. "There's a moment where the zombie tiger, which by the way, we, as a cast, never got to see the zombie tiger until we watched the film. Instead, we had this awesome stunt coordinator who was just hopping around, holding a stick, almost like a puppet attached to the stick. And that was the zombie tiger and Zack would would say, 'Follow that. That's a zombie tiger. Ooh.' And so we weren't able to be as afraid obviously as we would be had there actually been Siegfried and Roy's tiger there zombified out." In fact, the cast had a lot to say about the zombie tiger.
"But ultimately that was the moment because equally again, they're not carcasses," Hardwick explained. "You actually see our actors who were playing the zombies and they encroach while, again, this puppet is playing as though it's the tiger encroaching. That was the moment where I thought, 'Man, this is a really interesting moment for me and my career,' because I didn't know."
For the movie's Lily actress Nora Arnezeder, the moment of embracing the zombie world is similar to how the audience will experience it. "When we get into Las Vegas," Arnezeder recalled. "Once Lily opens the door to Las Vegas, and she sees all the skulls and the abandoned cars, this is when I realized, 'Wow, we're really doing it. This is the zombie world.'"
Meanwhile, Schweighöfer often serves as comic relief in the film, and his apocalypse reality check came in a moment which did not make the final cut of Army of the Dead. "It's not in the movie, but we tried to shoot a scene where the whole gang was together and we were surrounded by 500 extras of zombies," he explained. "And Zack came to me, and he gave me these two guns, and he said, 'Can you remember Face/Off?' And I said, 'Yeah, I remember Face/Off.' And then he just said, 'Can you shoot like Nicholas Cage in that film?' So I did like, 'Whoa,' with two guns, like left, right, left, right. Everyone was laughing their asses off, because it was so funny. It's not in the movie, but I thought, 'Okay.' And the cool thing was I was shooting, and everyone was shooting, and all the zombies, they went down. They were falling down, and I thought, 'That feels so real. Oh my God. I love Hollywood.'"
The immersion into this world falls in line with where Hardwick, a former college football player turned actor, sees himself going in the future. "I definitely saw Marvel and DC or DC and Marvel in my future," Hardwick said. "You can't be an ex-athlete and as physical as I am in his team, as team oriented as I am, and not see yourself in the position that, obviously, the likes of Hemsworth to Anthony Mackie, to the late great Chadwick, and other females included, but definitely my colleagues that are male. I always saw myself in looking in the mirror as playing that guy, but I didn't necessarily see myself as a hero within a zombie space. Leave it to Zack Snyder to allow for me to first and foremost, before any DC or Marvel world, excuse me, he allowed me to see myself in this space and of a hero man. That's pretty cool in the zombie space. That's pretty cool."
Army of the Dead hits Netflix on May 21 and releases in select theaters on May 14.