Hitting DVD and Blu-ray today, director Marc Forster’s World War Z is coming off an incredibly successful box office run with total worldwide grosses in excess of $535 million. In its home video format, the film has something brand new to offer fans who caught it in theaters: an unrated cut of the zombie epic. In a new interview with ShockTillYouDrop.com, Forster talks about his first foray into the horror genre and what fans should expect from his “more intense” cut of the film.
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox and David Morse, World War Z is based on Max Brooks’ bestselling novel of the same name and follows Pitt’s Gerry Lane, a man working for the United Nations and racing against time to stop a pandemic that threatens to eradicate all life on Earth.
In the interview inside, Forster discusses building both cuts of the film, balancing action and exposition and the reactions he’s seen from audiences on a global scale.
(Click below for a hi-res version of this exclusive pic.)
Shock: Is there a key element of the new extended cut that you’re particularly excited to be able to share with audiences?
Marc Forster: I’m really excited to have them check out the unrated version because, obviously, when you’re trying to deliver a PG-13 you’re a little bit handcuffed. The blu-ray offers an extended, unrated cut of the film and I’m excited for people to watch that.
Shock: Do you find that you have a place in your heart for both versions or is the unrated definitely the preferred cut?
Forster: Oh yes. I’m very proud of the rated version and what we pulled off. The unrated version is my preference because it’s not just about blood and gore being added. The overall intensity is more than the rated version. You can dial it up more. That’s what I found was that the film didn’t need to be so much more gorey. The level of intensity is bigger. The sound is more intense.
Shock: Does knowing that home video ultimately lets you get your unrated cut out there make it easier to construct the theatrical version?
Forster: Yes, a little bit. But in the moment, it’s such a terrible feeling. You have to tone it down and you’re like, “This version is better!” But sometimes you realize that you have to step away. You have to let go of it. And yes, there’s always the unrated version and I’m really, really excited about that. So it’s all good.
Shock: Somehow you managed to cast Peter Capaldi in the film as a W.H.O. Doctor and now he’s the new Doctor Who. I’m guessing that’s just a fantastic coincidence?
Forster: (laughs) He’s fantastic. He’s so good at being a comedic actor. I just like him. Just fantastic.
Shock: Given that this is a global film and knowing that you’ve done promotion all around the world, is there anything distinctive that you’ve recognized in how different countries respond to the story?
Forster: It’s amazing how, globally, people responded so positively to it. It’s amazing to make a film that affects people in a similar way globablly. It’s sort of like the zombie outbreak in that, globally, people have the same reaction to the film. That was really exciting.
Shock: One of the trickiest aspects of delivering a film of this scale is dealing with exposition. How did you decide when you had hit the right balance there?
Forster: I’m a stickler for exposition. I think exposition is so hard to get across. You have to be very careful in how you deal with exposition. Audiences are smart enough, too, that whenever you deal with exposition you have to make it as subtle as possible. There were discussions very early on with Matthew Michael Carnahan and we said, “Let’s try to tell the story visually”. We wanted as little written exposition as possible.
Shock: Sort of to the same point, how important was it for you to show off zombie scenarios that had never been done before on the big screen?
Forster: It was very important because we really wanted to create our own zombies. You don’t want the exact scenarios that you’ve seen before. You want to push the envelope. That was crucial in building something that people haven’t seen before.
Shock: Have you found that the film sticks with you? Do you go somewhere and suddenly start thinking about the location in terms of what would happen if there was a zombie attack?
Forster: (laughs) While I was making the movie, I was constantly in that state of mind but, thankfully, not any longer. Once the premiere happened, I let go of it. Otherwise I would go crazy. I would constantly live in zombie panic and fear.
Shock: Do you think this is a world that you’ll be returning to, though?
Forster: Maybe. I like to explore different worlds. If I haven’t done a genre, I think to challenge myself. Who knows? I don’t want to rule it out.
Shock: Is the zombie genre something that intrigued you prior to coming across Max Brooks’ book?
Forster: I always loved the genre and was sent the book. But I’ve been watching zombie movies since the George Romero days. He tends to have insight into society and what’s happening. I think it’s a landmark genre because it contains a lot of thought while still delivering a commercial film. You have a social backdrop, which I always find interesting with that kind of setup.
Shock: Would you ever be interested in trying something that was 100% commercial or are you always looking for that social angle?
Forster: I always believe that it’s nice to ground things. That’s the filmmaking that I like and it’s sort of always where I come from.
Shock: You have a very diverse filmography. How do you know when the right thing comes your way to make it your next project?
Forster: Some of them I develop myself. Part of them come through people who send me different scripts or books. I look at them and I read them and we meet to have conversations. Sometimes that dialogue turns into developing a screenplay. It’s always different. Literally every single project in my career has led down a different path. That’s how I’d like to keep it because it keeps life from always being the same and you meet a lot of different people on these journeys. You, as a filmmaker and an artist, can grow and remain open to different experiences. That’s what I think life is about. To grow and see different things and create different things. I’ve been very fortunate and thankful that I have had that opportunity.