After being unable to hold onto a director or cast a female lead, the adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” seemed dead. How silly to think that. Like the zombies in the title, it has apparently staggered back to life. Variety reports that Burr Steers now will direct, with Lily Collins taking the lead role of Elizabeth Bennett in the Seth Grahame-Smith riff on Jane Austen’s classic novel.
As you can guess from the title, the book takes the famous romantic troubles of Austen’s early 19th century characters and gives them another set of problems to deal with as well: zombies. The success of Grahame-Smith’s book led him to write “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” which was made into a not very successful movie last year.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was bought long ago by Natalie Portman’s production company with plans for her to star in it. She eventually decided to stay on just as a producer, but no one could seem to get the project going. Directors and writers including David O. Russell and Mike White, cycled through. The role of Elizabeth Bennett–which would seem to be a highly desirable one–was turned down by a number of name actresses including (I think) Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, maybe Jessica Chastain. Blake Lively’s name may also have been in the mix, but as always, it’s not clear whether she actually was a contender or whether it was just her PR machine.
Anyway, Steers’s arrival seems to have put things back on track, allowing them to lock in Collins. She’ll be seen this summer in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” and we’ll see if this zombie project really is indestructible.