Warning: This post contains spoilers for Zombieland: Double Tap.
For Zombieland: Double Tap, the gang found a secret weapon in their fight against the zombies.
The long-awaited sequel arrived on Friday, and while the big draw is the return of Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and Wichita (Emma Stone), the most prominent — and memorable — new face is Zoey Deutch‘s Madison. The Politician star scores plenty of laughs as the ditzy, pink sweatsuit-wearing, Pinkberry-living survivor who serves as Columbus’ rebound when his proposal sends Wichita running. Madison becomes part of the group on the road trip to track down Little Rock, before seemingly turning into a zombie and being killed by Columbus. Thankfully, she just had allergic reaction and soon hilariously reunites with our heroes.
“Because that original cast had such amazing chemistry and they are all so strong, the bar was really high for the casting as well — especially for Madison, which was pretty broad on paper,” director Ruben Fleischer tells EW. “So we needed somebody who could elevate it, and Zoey just came in with that fully-realized version of the character and just completely blew me away.”
To learn more about her Double Tap experience, EW sat down with Deutch to talk about her fandom of Zombieland and its stars, accessorizing Madison, and how she grossed out some of the crew.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What about joining Double Tap interested you? Were you a fan of the original?
ZOEY DEUTCH: When I watched the first movie, I was so struck by how much fun it seemed like the cast was having, and my instincts were right coming and joining them on the second one, because it was confirmed that they had an absolute blast and laughed their way through the entire production, and we did the same on this one. So I came into the audition for Zombieland 2 as a fan of the first, and, honestly, I was just excited that they were making another and that I’d get to see another, not expecting I would get the part or get to join them in the fun.
What did you specifically enjoy about playing Madison?
Well, I grew up in the valley, so I’ve been preparing and rehearsing this accent for 24 years. [Laughs] I loved how positive she was. To be honest, to be able to play someone that positive for 14, 15 hours every day for a couple months, it inevitably seeps into your own psyche and spirit. So I was in a very good mood, between playing someone that positive and cheery and being around such amazing and kind people. It was a very life-affirming experience.
The original cast obviously has worked together and grew so close on the first one, and you’re really thrown right in there with Jesse, Woody, and Emma. What was that experience like?
They’re three of my favorite actors of all-time, so I didn’t want to have any expectations or put them on a pedestal in any way. And what I came to discover on day one is that, not only are they as brilliant as I thought that they were, but they’re so kind and welcoming and the sole reason why I was able to be as insane as I was, because they created that space. They’re such generous actors and the best people ever. I’m like the president of their fan club, all of them. And Ruben! Ruben really sets that tone.
You mentioned how much a fan of Emma you are, there’s some great back and forth between Madison and Wichita. How did you like that dynamic?
Well, Madison and Wichita are polar opposites. Madison is the complete contradiction to her, so there’s just inherently tons to play with. Every time she says no, Madison says yes. Every time Madison says yes, she says no. And Ruben gave us all a lot of space to improv.
What was it like filming the zombie killing scenes? Madison isn’t very hands on during the zombie killing, but you’re still right in the middle of it.
I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just standing around, so I asked Ruben if I could work with the prop master to build a Louis Vuitton purse with an arsenal of props. So I put like a lipstick or some nail polish or her mace or her bedazzled Sidekick that she could be searching for bars all the time with or a nail file or hand lotion, just things that, even if they were silly, arbitrary props, I could do, because in certain moments Madison knew that she couldn’t contribute to the actual killing of zombies. But, in terms of watching the action take place, I was super excited to just be as much of a sponge as I possibly could with Woody, Emma, Abigail, and Jesse. Emma, specifically, is such an extraordinary actor, person, and role model, and she very much prioritizes safety, which is just another factor in why she’s such a great leader on set. Watching her navigate working with weapons and complicated stunt routines was very eye-opening.
And kind of like Bill Murray, you got to do the zombie transition without actually transitioning.
I grossed out the hardcore, manly, burly man grips so much that three of them had to leave the set. They were so nauseous from watching me do that, which, in my mind, is the best compliment I could ever receive.
Emma has mentioned the possibility of doing a Zombieland every 10 years, so are you in?
I’ll be on my hands and knees begging them to have me back. It was so much fun. Like I said, a very life-affirming experience.