A huge hit both critically and commercially at the time of its release, 2009 horror comedy Zombieland currently stands as the #2 highest grossing zombie movie of all time, and with good reason. From Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) detailing his patented zombie survival rules, to Tallahassee’s (Woody Harrelson) obsession with Twinkies, to the “zombie kill of the week”, the film truly has something for just about every horror fan who enjoys a good laugh with their undead carnage.
As has become well-known in the years since it came out, one of the greatest sequences in Zombieland involves a trip to Bill Murray’s house, which the main group of four initially decides to do just for the fun of it. Surprisingly, the legendary actor is still alive, managing to get around outside by pretending to be a zombie. Naturally, this leads to lots of wacky Ghostbusters-related hijinks involving Murray, Tallahassee, and Wichita (Emma Stone). Unfortunately, the erstwhile Dr. Venkman is then killed for real by a confused Columbus, although not before Murray gets in a joke about his mistake in doing the Garfield movie.
That said, the original plan for that portion of Zombieland was quite different. As revealed by scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick during a recent appearance on Kevin Smith’s AMC talk show Geeking Out, the role that ultimately ended up going to Murray was originally written for Dirty Dancing and Point Break star Patrick Swayze, with jokes presumably tailored toward his own storied career in Hollywood. Unfortunately Swayze soon developed the pancreatic cancer that would ultimately end his life, preventing him from participating in Zombieland. Check out the fuill clip below to find out who else was approached prior to Murray.
While it’s certainly a tough proposition for Zombieland fans to imagine Murray’s scenes not having appeared in the film, it’s hard to argue that a Swayze cameo couldn’t have been just as fun if the former Ghost heartthrob was game to cut loose comedically. He’s certainly most famous for his dramatic work, but Swayze never seemed to have an issue doing wacky comedy, and would probably have been willing to go all out to try and get laughs, even if some of them were at his own expense. Sadly, the bastard known as cancer cut Swayze’s life short, denying the world a chance to see what he could have done with the part.