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Exclusive: Marti Noxon Spills Her Guts on 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'

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Fresh off the success of Fright Night, writer Marti Noxon is already tackling her next project. She reteams with Fright Night director Craig Gillespie for the long-awaited Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel which in turn is based on the Jane Austen novel, PPZ has faced its share of difficulties, including going through three directors and losing its star in less than a year's time. We chatted exclusively with Marti about what she is bringing to PPZ, and what her dream project is.

I know Fright Night just opened, but has there been any talk of a sequel?

I think it all depends on how the film performs financially, unfortunately. We would love to do a sequel. Charlie Brewster and Peter Vincent as a team... there is great potential there.

Where would you want to take their story? Have you been plotting?

We have talked about ideas, but we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves. On I Am Number Four we all got ahead of ourselves because the tracking on it was great. It did okay in theatres, but it wasn't sequel-worthy. So we decided not to curse ourselves.

You have said that you and Craig Gillespie worked really well together on Fright Night. Is that why you are re-teaming for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

When he went on that project, the script needed some work. He pitched me to Lionsgate and I did a rewrite, and now they are casting it. I would do any project with Craig.

How much of the script is yours? Was it mostly just cleanup?

The original script was written by David O. Russell, who is no slouch. Some of [the rewrite] was just from a female standpoint and working with the character of Elizabeth. She is an incredible female hero and a great literary hero. To me, it made perfect sense that she would also fight zombies. I feel like they just needed a bit of that "girl perspective." Some of [the rewrite] was just working with the third act. It's always hard to land the third act of a movie like this. Every movie I have ever worked on you work and rework the third act until you are blue in the face. 

Did the fact that the movie is based on a novel that is based on a novel impact your take on the script? Did you find yourself referring back to Jane Austin's novel as much as Seth Grahame-Smith's?

Tons. I steeped myself in Austen. I listed to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on tape, then I listened to Pride and Prejudice - in part just to get the cadence of the speech. Then I read Pride and Prejudice, as well as a few other Austen books. To me, the trick was finding the balance between making the language sound accurate without locking people out. That was really fun. For a while, anytime anyone talked to me, everything out of my mouth was "verily" and "nay sir." I was totally geeked out.

You mentioned that you were bringing a "girl perspective" to the script. Is it equally balanced between action and romance?

Yeah! The trick with that was really just to let the romance develop naturally. There is a lot of action in the movie. It is very much a comedy-action movie, and horror, too - there are some really chilling parts. But the core of Austen are these tortured lovers, so we needed to make sure that all of that was working, and that Darcy and Lizzie were feeling true to the original story. Also, it's sort of a sad statement on where we are with these kinds of movies, that we had to go all the way back to Jane Austen to write a strong female heroine. I think that is changing a little bit, thanks to Hunger Games and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There are new female heroines coming up that are new and interesting and complex. For a little while, it was really tough to get a female on screen who wasn't like, "My god, Mrs. Robinson, when you take off your glasses you are beautiful!" These female characters who were not very layered and not very flawed.

You've always had a penchant for strong female characters. Do you have a dream project? Do you want to, like, create the next female action hero?

I would love to. To be honest - as scary as it is - part of me wishes I could take a crack at Wonder Woman. There was a moment where it looked like I might get involved in the TV version. She is one of the few in the canon that hasn't been exploited. There are reasons for that; there is stuff in her mythology that are really silly. The costume - she's in a star-spangled bathing suit! And she uses a "lasso of truth" and rides around in an invisible plane. But they don't have to be that way. I definitely have a point of view about that. If I could do it, and nobody could "yell at me"... if the internet wasn't poised to explode in hate, no matter what you did, I would be out there, really pushing for it.

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