What does a guy from a place as peaceful (and notoriously neutral) as Switzerland know about zombie warfare? Plenty if the man in question is World War Z director Marc Forster. He brought his vivid and sometimes horrid imagination to life in this summer’s highly anticipated tale of the undead, which is in theaters tomorrow.
Here, Forster speaks out against Halle Berry’s Monster's Ball backlash, sets the record straight about Lee Daniels encountering racism and shares his thoughts on working with superstar Brad Pitt.
World War Z is already getting rave reviews. When making the film, could you tell you had a hit on your hands?
[Laughs] No, I couldn’t! As a director, when you are in the mist of a movie you are just trying to make the best movie possible. I wanted to make this film so real that audiences would be on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. I also wanted to make a big movie with a PG-13 rating, making it accessible to everyone. Using gore in these kinds of movies is a cheap trick. I wanted to do something that feels real and intense. What you see on the screen is a product of all of that.
Brad Pitt is also a producer on the film. What's your most memorable moment working with Mr. Pitt?
On the set, he is an actor and he really focuses on the role. Once you wrap — he becomes the producer. He handles both roles really well. Brad’s acting instincts are just so acute and at the same time so receptive to communication and direction. It is always fun to work with actors like that!
There was a great deal of diversity in World War Z — Black, white, Latino and everyone else in between. Was it important for you to showcase a rainbow of characters?
Yes, absolutely. It was key and very important to me. We live in a world that is very interconnected. In this film, the epidemic is global and it affects us all. No one is excluded and the only way we can survive it is if we all work together.
You directed 2001’s critically acclaimed Monster's Ball, which won Halle Berry an Oscar. There was some backlash in the Black community toward Halle Berry for the role. As the director, what did you think about the criticism she received?
I feel as if it is unfair to her. She is such a courageous woman. To take on a part like that, one needs a great deal of courage. I feel like anyone that does something courageous may ultimately get criticized. At the same time, I believe she opened a door for many others.
There is a story noted on your IMDB page mentioning blatant racism towards one of your Black producers. It reads that somebody said in front of him, "Can you tell the colored man to wait outside?" Who was the producer and what were your thoughts?
It was Lee Daniels, this happened in pre-production of Monster's Ball while we were location scouting in Louisiana. However, it didn’t happen exactly that way. It was not as direct as it is written there. It was said in a “manner” that basically he should wait in another room. I was really taken aback. Growing up in Switzerland, I had never seen anything like that. I was in shock.
World War Z didn't have a happy, Hollywood ending. Does that mean we can look forward to a sequel?
Let’s hope that the movie will be a big blockbuster hit and everybody is going to go see it — then that might definitely be in the cards.
Name three things that you consider personal must-haves to survive a zombie attack.
That’s a really great question... you need good shoes, water and a crowbar.
Why the crowbar?
For self-defense! [Laughs] You can use it to open doors, get through spaces and smash in windows. A crowbar is a must and much better than an axe or a gun. It's my preferred weapon for survival.
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(Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)