'We're Living In The Zombie Apocalypse': Chloë Sevigny On How 'The Dead Don't Die' Mirrors Reality11:02
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Chloë Sevigny at WBUR. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Chloë Sevigny at WBUR. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

"The Dead Don’t Die" is director Jim Jarmusch’s dark comedy about the Earth getting knocked off its axis by polar fracking. The dead rise up and a grim hilarity ensues.

Actors Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver and Bill Murray play small-town cops on the lookout as zombies lumber over to their police station. And — spoiler alert — for the actress who’s been called the “it girl” and “the coolest girl in the world,” it does not end well.

Sevigny, who has worked with Jarmusch before, says she was surprised when the director wrote her a letter asking her to star in his latest film.

“He said, 'I want to make this ridiculous zombie picture.' And I was like, 'Why zombies?' Like I had never had an affinity for zombies. I love vampire pictures,” Sevigny tells Here & Now’s Robin Young. “It's one of my favorites, and I was kind of sad that I wasn't asked to be in 'Only Lovers Left Alive.' But that's OK. I'll forgive him.”

But Sevigny says she came to love this movie and in making it, she discovered parallels to real life. In some ways, we’re already zombies, she says.

“The environmental issues that we're facing today weigh very heavily upon Jim's soul, and I think that this is like a commentary on that, a little bit of a wakeup call to viewers just to think about their own consumerism,” Sevigny says. “And Jim wants us to think more about like empathy, what we can do to help others. I mean, to me, I always think like we're living in the zombie apocalypse now with people in their phones, and people just are like not connecting on like a real level to one another — and it's terrifying.”

Bill Murray (left), Chloë Sevigny and Adam Driver in "The Dead Don't Die." (Photo by Abbot Genser/Focus Features)
Bill Murray (left), Chloë Sevigny and Adam Driver in "The Dead Don't Die." (Photo by Abbot Genser/Focus Features)


Interview Highlights

On the pressure that comes with being seen as a fashionista and an “it girl”

“I have a complicated relationship with that part. You know, I do love style, and I have a lot of friends that work in the industry. I also hate it, hate the responsibility.

“I feel like sometimes I'm pushing it too hard, and maybe I should just find some sort of uniform and just like go to film festivals in that.

“I think also like people see me suspended in time as this like young person. I think a lot of child actors … and I started fairly young. I wasn't a child, but I was 19 and I had this opportunity and I ran with it. And then you're like, 'Well, what if I want to do something else? I'm already this one thing.’ And people always give actors a hard time when they try and you know, segue into different fields, so the fashion thing is natural for me and now filmmaking. So I think that's why so many of us tend to stay within our realm.”

On how starting out young set the tone for her career

“I think just working with real people making really grounded stories. I mean I don't know how grounded 'Dead Don't Die' is ... maybe that's the wrong word. And also working in ensemble casts. I think most of my career in television and films I've worked in an ensemble cast. I've never desired being like the star of a movie or carrying a movie or having a vehicle. I did try and do that once with this Lizzie Borden movie that came out a couple of years ago, and I had to produce that myself in order to have a lead role, but for the most part, I've been comfortable, most comfortable in an ensemble environment.”

On "Boys Don’t Cry" and being conscious of her privilege as an actor

“Thinking about all those people involved in those horrific crimes [against trans people] and you know, even beyond Brandon. … You know, just thinking about Lana and her life, and she's still in Nebraska and there I was like at the Oscars draped in a gown and jewels, and just like how complicated all of that is. And even coming from ‘Kids,’ like my first film, I think a lot about like opportunity verse exploitation and what that is.”

On the scene where the three of them are trapped in a cop car surrounded by zombies

“I wasn't afraid, but I was playing the trauma. I was trying to just like be in the moment. And knowing that I was between Bill and Adam who were doing their dry shtick, and I was having to be like the in for the audience. … Can you imagine the denial one would be feeling in that or wanting one to comfort you and like who you're turning to for that and just being terrified. I was just trying to play it as real as I could and hoping that, you know, that people would feel something with the performance.”

On when Bill Murray took them for a joy ride in the cop car between scenes

“We were in uniform, and I was like, 'Is this illegal, maybe?' Turned on the lights. None of us had phones. None of us had money. The gas tank was like on empty. I was like, 'Where are we going?' He had taken one of those little maps that are like out of scale, you know, from the diner like with local attractions. And he's like, 'I remember this farm stand.' He's like, 'I think I can find my way back.' And I was like, 'Are you sure? What if we get lost? We're upstate like every road turns into another road. It all looks the same.' But he navigated, and we went in and got some produce. It was real fun.”


Ashley Locke produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web. 

This segment aired on June 10, 2019.

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