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Exclusive Interview: 'Day of the Dead' Star AnnaLynne McCord

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Don?t let her blonde bombshell look fool you, Day of the Dead star AnnaLynne McCord is pretty kick ass. And when we say kick ass we mean she?s the beat-your-head-in-with-a-tire-iron-then-blast-through-75 zombie-skulls-with-an AK47 kind of kick ass. This weekend we had the chance to talk to AnnaLynne about all things Day of the Dead (in stores now). We chatted her up about being a zombie killer, her upcoming role in Victor Garcia?s (30 Days of Night: Blood Trails) new film, Slaughter, and working with the undead.

Could you tell us a little bit about your character in Day of the Dead?

I play Nina and she is the girlfriend of Mena Suvari?s brother in the film, Michael Welch who plays Trevor. We start off the film with the typical high school romance in the back woods making out. At first I?m affected by my parents turning into zombies early in the film. I get really affected by it and I fight for a little while but then I get really quiet and start to internalize it and then at the end of the film my fighter-self comes back. I?m a survivor. I make it through. But I definitely have the typical scare and want to die there for a little but I regain my confidence and grab an AK47 shoot up some zombies.

At some points in the film your character is paralyzed by fear but at others she completely kicks ass. What was it like for you to switch back and forth between those two emotions?

I prefer the kick ass, I would tell our director, Steve Miner, I?m not staying unless I get to use the AK47! [Laughs] I had a 38 as well but the AK was the one I wanted.

I got to go to the gun range a couple times a week so was really excited to be playing with all the weapons. We had some extra training with an ex-Russian Seal who couldn?t even speak English which was really crazy. But he spoke German and Russian and a couple of other languages and I actually speak German so we kind of connected and he let me shoot some live rounds and it was insane because it picks me up and drags me backwards! [Laughs] But switching back and forth, even when she?s the most fearless I still wanted to bring out that she was a survivor because at the end of the day even when you?re scared that?s still how you?re trying to cope so it?s still a survivor thing. You just don?t know how to fight at that point. She was definitely pretty fearful compared to the other chick who was just ready to go with anybody.

 

When she is fighting back though she?s such a powerful character, which is sort of a rarity for female roles in film?

Definitely. That?s actually where I?m hoping to go with my career. I?ve done kind of the school girl thing but I really love kick-ass roles. I love Tomb Raider and comic books or stuff like that. I love fast cars and motorcycles. Anytime I read a script like that I know that?s me. But it?s hard because a lot of female roles are few and far between so when you come across them it?s great. Jeffery [Reddick] is so good at giving female?s strength in his writing.

So how did this role differ for you from those school girl roles or your role on Nip/Tuck?

This is the one role where you feel?My other characters tend to be on the evil side. [Laughs] This character shows me as a sweet girl that you want to get to the end of the movie yet she has the edge and kick ass side that allowed me to be me in it. The other roles allow me to have some fun and it?s always fun to play a bad girl but audience members are always like ohh just kill her already. But with Nina they hope that she gets to the end of the movie.

 

Between yourself, Ving Rhames, Mena Suvari, Michael Welch and Nick Cannon there was a ton of young talent on set. What was it like working together?

We had a lot of fun. I didn?t get to personally work with Ving Rhames but I met him on set. Mena Suvari and Michael Welch is who I worked closely with and Mena and I are still friends now. She?s just a wonderful woman and I?m very happy that the friendship has developed and has gone on for a couple of years. We just had a lot of fun together. She?s kick ass too and likes guns so we connected on that as well as some things in our personal lives. The whole cast and director and crew would go and try the Bulgarian cuisine which was an experience in itself and totally a positive one. Honestly it was just a lot of fun.

We talked to Christa Campbell (interview here) last week and she told us about the zombie training she had to go through. Did you get to experience any of that for the fun of it?

I did. I got to have a little video of my own, a scrapbook sort of thing, of the make-up and whole training. I play along a little bit with the man in the woods [zombie] who chases after me and Trevor (Michael Welch), but he was actually the zombie coach who taught the actors how to be zombies.

He knew exactly what Steve and Jeffery had in mind as far as making the zombies a new zombie thing. They?re not just the slow walking zombie, which is scary, but they?re running which is terrifying for me. I was able to watch him and how he developed the typical zombie walk into a run.

 

That brings us to the age-old question: Fast or slow zombies?

I definitely play off of the other actors and what they give me. I really, really work well with zombies running after me because there?s nothing like that it?s like ?Oh My God!? [Laughs] For me as an actress it was great and as an audience member it was definitely a lot scarier and you always want the thrill. I mean zombie movies tend to be more gory than scary but this actually gives you both of those. I like it I think it?s cool. I hope that zombie fans are not like what are they doing?

It?s definitely not the first film to have fast zombies but these zombies tend to be super-sub-human species?

Yeah they?re running and jumping on the ceiling?

Anything extra like a commentary or bonus features on the DVD that we can expect to see?

There?s going to be a special commentary with Jeffrey [Reddick] and a few other people.

 

We read recently that you?re in production for a film titled Slaughter directed by Victor Garcia who directed our original series 30 Days of Night: Blood Trails?

Oh wow, yeah well, it was in the trades but I don?t think I can really comment on it. It was set to be with Maverick Films and a couple of other ?scream queens? as Variety put it, Erica Leerhsen and Shawnee Smith from Saw. I really have no idea as far as when we?ll shoot.

Could you comment on what your role would be?

My role, if everything does end up working out, is a young actress who will be a similar character to Nina in Day of the Dead. She?s a young girl, the youngest of the three but she?s a rebel and a fighter and she basically gets put into a horror movie but it actually ends up being an actual horror. It?s a movie within a movie where they want to actually make everyone really die. It?s a great premise. It won best screenplay at Slamdance and it was set to be shot back in November but it got pushed back.

 

Are any of the other projects that you?re working on genre related?

She Lived is kind of spiritual thriller-esque so it?s not exactly horror it?s scary and demonic. That one is set to come in late this fall or early next year. It?s with Jake Weber, Haley Bennett from Music and Lyriqs and Chace Crawford from the new show Gossip Girl. So there are a lot of up-and-comings in that film and it?s a thriller that?s sort of scary.

What is your biggest fear?

Oh, wow. It?s really funny because I used to have this huge fear of snakes. I got over my fear and now I?m actually getting a Albino Burmese Python. Right now, I?m sure there?s other fears but sharks. I?m scared shitless of sharks. I want to go in the cage and go down and see that they?re not as bad as I think they are. [Laughs]

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