Interview With World War Z Producer Jeremy Kleiner

WORLD WAR ZJeremy Kleiner is no stranger to Hollywood, having produced films like Eat, Pray, Love and Kick-Ass, he’s partnered up with Brad Pitt to produce this summer’s blockbuster thriller World War Z (WWZ). Jeremy instantly jumped into perfect Spanish when we sat down proving his bilingual cred, a good trait for someone working on a film that spans the globe chronicling a zombie apocalypse.

WWZ hasn’t been without its controversy, as any good movie. The film is very, very loosely based on the best-selling novel by Max Brooks. While Brook’s novel tells the story of the zombie war from various perspectives, the movie takes a linear plot, following Brad Pitt’s character as he tries to track down the origin of the zombie plague. While changes to original material are common in movie adaptations, we asked Jeremy what he would say to the fans of the book who may be turned-off to seeing the film because of this change:

I think it is always best to not judge something until it has had a chance to stand or fall on its own merits. I think our film will stand on its own merits and that has been the reaction we have had when people see the film.

From the start, there was a romance with the book and early rumors of a bidding war for the production rights. “We love the book and the book was very inspiring to us.” Says Jeremy.  “The book did something that was extremely innovative in that it showed how zombies would be operating on a global scale. How a zombie plague would touch multiple facets of society, geopolitics, sociology, the military and individual families. The zombies in the book are a realistic thing, they are grounded in reality,” said Jeremy. “I think our film is true to those attributes. While there are always challenges to adapting any material, we know that the fans that are open to our film will really enjoy it.”

We asked him if he saw the film more as a “global apocalypse” film, or a “zombie movie.”

“I think it’s a global thriller,” said Jeremy, “in which the world’s fate is at stake, but also the main characters family. Both the world and his family’s fate are intertwined. But I’m also very proud of our zombies and how they are rooted in a realistic context. I love the zombie aspect of the film but think it is much more than that.”

In fairness, the book would be almost impossible to turn into a film with it’s multiple narratives, countries and story lines. We asked if that weighed in on the decision to condense it into one story.

“It is an organic process and we wound up finding intensity, excitement and realistic stakes in a present-day narrative with an individual and family at the center of that narrative. The film shows this as a compelling point of entry,” said Jeremy.

We asked him if there were any apocalyptic and/or zombie films that influenced him.

I love the whole zombie cannon; Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, etc. For me, the films I like are ones that are rooted in reality, such as the Terminator series, T1 and T2 really jump out.

You can read our review of World War Z here and as fans of the book we have to agree with Jeremy- “this film will stand on its own merits.”