Army of the Dead stars Ana de la Reguera and Raúl Castillo on how to survive a zombie apocalypse
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Netflix's Army of the Dead.
Ana de la Reguera and Raúl Castillo nearly survived a zombie apocalypse in Netflix's Army of the Dead, and they're sharing their secrets exclusively with EW.
"My secret weapon for surviving a zombie apocalypse is to go into battle with Dave Bautista. At least that's what worked for me," de la Reguera, who portrays Maria Cruz, says with a giggle. "Alternately you can find someone as big as him, he was like a wall! That's all you need!"
Bautista's Scott Ward is hired to recover $200 million from a casino vault in Las Vegas that has been invaded by the undead, but the mercenary can't do it alone. So he recruits his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), and cohorts Maria and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) for the job as well as a motley crew of specialists including Castillo's Mikey Guzman, helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), German safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), and Coyote (Nora Arnezeder), among others.
"What makes Mikey perfect for the job is that he's a gamer and YouTube sensation, and I like to think that it was Maria who discovered me because she has her finger on the pulse of the community," Castillo shares. "My character is the only one that's from Las Vegas and I made a name for myself for being a really good zombie killer. It was easy to make a transition from having imaginary kills to bashing zombie heads."
As the two Latinos in the cast, de la Reguera and Castillo bonded easily and swiftly, forming a closeness that's reflected in their characters. Maria and Mikey often converse in Spanish, which speaks to the importance of making the right allies in battle.
"I was so excited when I heard I'd be working with Ana. I'm a longtime fan of her work," Castillo says. "Even when we were off camera we were joking around, so I'm glad that we were able to weave that into our characters. Maria and Mikey develop their own rapport and communicate in ways no one else could understand."
He adds with a laugh, "Grenades also really come in handy! If you're going to battle zombies, having a few handfuls of grenades is the way to go."
Early in the highly anticipated Zack Snyder film, Mikey gets separated from his friend Chambers (Samantha Win), who decides being the last in line is a winning strategy. This is disproven immediately leaving Chambers as the first victim of the mission.
"It's definitely not good to be in the back but Mikey should've been holding up the rear," he recalls. "I think things got confusing in there because it was so dark and full of zombies, so we ended up getting separated. For anyone that battles zombies, I would suggest they keep it tight and stay as close as possible but it's tough to do when you're surrounded."
Adds de la Reguera, "That was so much fun to shoot! I remember that day, there were so many zombies and the costumes for each one were so cool to see. I couldn't stop admiring the work of the production design team."
Having the actors in zombie costumes was a surreal experience for Castillo, who found it surprising seeing them hanging around between scenes.
"It was weird standing around with like 60-70 extras who at one point you're shooting and the next you're at the craft table eating donuts with," he recalls with a smile.
De la Reguera adds jokingly as if talking to a zombie, "Didn't I kill you yesterday? Weren't you a different zombie? What are you doing here?"
Zombies aside, Maria reveals shortly before her death that she and Scott had previously been in a relationship, and one of the reasons she joined the team was that she was hoping there was still a spark between them. As she becomes distracted by her feelings, the elevator springs open and a zombie twists her neck leaving her dead instantly.
"She kept her feelings at bay because she was there on a mission," de la Reguera responds when asked why Maria waited so long to tell Scott. "This wasn't the time for feelings, a lot of people are involved so the focus remained on the team. We couldn't afford to have any distractions. So my advice to anyone getting ready to battle zombies is to not be horny!"
Adds Castillo of Mikey's death and the lesson he learned, "He went the distance because he's such a good shot and he was clearing the way and getting rid of so many zombies. Sadly, he got a little greedy by holding onto those money bags when he should've dropped them. As an actor, it was a really fun scene to shoot. Zach gave me three really athletic stunt actors to work with and like 20 ended up on top of me and I'm really claustrophobic. It took everything in me not to have a panic attack!"
For de la Reguera, her experience working in Army of the Dead helped her learn about zombies because unlike Castillo, who has been obsessed with the creatures since he was boy, she didn't know much about them.
"I had never seen a zombie movie. I grew up watching films like Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink...I was a big John Hughes fan," the Mexican-born actress says. "When I was cast in this movie, I saw Dawn of the Dead and I loved how Zack filmed that. I especially loved that it was shot in a mall which was very '80s."
Adds Castillo, "Zombies have been such a big part of my life so I've been preparing for this role for quite some time. I remember the second house my family and I moved into in the United States had burglar bars, and I remember thinking, 'This is the perfect house for a zombie apocalypse because they'd never be able to get in.' I used to obsess about zombies since I was a kid so it was a dream come true to star in Army of the Dead. I was geeking out like a little kid! I hope everyone who watches the film enjoys it as much as we loved making it."
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