Can you imagine Zombieland without Bill Murray’s cameo? The writers have taken to Twitter to share some of the scenes that could have been if another celebrity were put in Murray’s place, including Patrick Swayze, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Mark Hamill, Sylvester Stallone and more.
Swayze was actually the original choice, writer Paul Wernick has shared, but the actor’s declining health prevented him from taking the role. The original scene would have featured the potter’s wheel from Ghost, and a dancey fight number with a zombified Swayze set to (you guessed it) I’ve Had The Time Of My Life.
Since we’re all currently living in #zombieland, @rhettreese & I thought it’d be fun to take you behind the curtain, back to the early days. The role Bill Murray played started in the original draft as Patrick Swayze. Patrick tragically got sick and we never had the opp (1)
— Paul Wernick (@paulwernick) March 19, 2020
Another version of the scene pitched to Sylvester Stallone reads similarly, but with a Rocky-themed fight set to Eye of the Tiger.
Mark Hamill’s script is the most outright nerdy, featuring a house cluttered with Star Wars memorabilia, a lightsaber fight with an undead Hamill and the cantina scene playing on the TV.
Joe Pesci’s script is laden with Goodfellas references, with The Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter blasting through the scene.
All follow the same basic structure, which is notably different to the Bill Murray zombie fake-out that appeared in the final film. The writers have said the original Murray scene was similar to the ones they’ve posted on Twitter, and it was the actor himself who suggested the changes that made their way to the final cut.
We’ll post the original version of the Murray draft. It did take this structure. Bill wanted more to do, and someone came up with the idea… what if he’s only dressed as a zombie?
— Rhett Reese (@RhettReese) March 24, 2020
All the scripted scenes feature the main characters kicking the famous actor’s corpse repeatedly, berating them for their bad career decisions. “That’s for the ’78 Christmas Special,” is yelled at Hamill’s corpse, for example. The final scene with Murray ended up being a lot gentler, still teasing him over his Garfield role, but letting him make the joke himself.
Writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have promised to share one new script per day, revealing a little bit more of Zombieland’s history more than 10 years after its release. Thanks to its enduring fanbase, Zombieland received a late sequel last year, which got Bill Murray back for a credit-scene cameo.