World War Z: Starring Brad Pitt

While the book tells the story through various first-person accounts of the epidemic, the filmmakers chose to tell the tale through one very special Everyman–Gerry Lane, ex-U.N. investigator, played by Brad Pitt.

“Gerry has gone to hot zones around the world – Rwanda, Bosnia – places of tremendous danger and turbulence and crisis. Ultimately he retreats from that line of work to focus on his family and live a more normal life. But when the zombie outbreak occurs, his former employer contacts him believing he is the only man for the job. He is essentially trying to figure out the identity of Patient Zero–where the epidemic really began and the whole movie is told through his point of view. It was really important for me that we build the movie around that; we experience everything as he does,” Forster says.

In Brad Pitt, director Marc Forster says, he had the ideal ally, on and off the screen.

“It was an incredible experience working with Brad. He is a sublime actor and a true artist with impeccable taste, not just as the star of the film but also as the producer. His sensibility of what works, what is real versus what rings as false, is right on point. We’re not making a documentary, we’re making a film but at the same time, we wanted to keep it grounded in reality and he has a true sensitivity for that. Both of us had never done anything like this and in that sense it was a challenge – to work through this genre that was unfamiliar to the both of us and to try to create something fresh and new. I really enjoyed that tremendously, I couldn’t have wished for a better partner,” Forster says.

Forster’s eclectic filmography intrigued Pitt. From action films to period biographies and book adaptations – “He can’t be pigeonholed as a director and his experience and interest in many genres and types of film is a rarity. His most memorable moments on film are intimate and human. It was this quality juxtaposed against our massive global apocalyptic crisis that we believed would lead to an unusually authentic and grounded action thriller.”

Forster says that Gerry is “not your typical hero” and that is part of the character’s appeal.

“Several times in the movie, Gerry says that movement is life and he urges people around him to keep moving. I like that phrase a lot, because ultimately in life we can’t stand still, we have to move with the current otherwise we’ll drown. But all the while he is observing and adjusting – as the zombies take over, he sees little signs and starts to put things together. He makes crucial decisions in the moment. He is chosen for this journey because he has the unique ability to be thrown into extremely dangerous, chaotic situations and survive,” Forster says.

This is not a life Gerry particularly enjoys so he gave it up to spend more time with his family. Ironically, to protect his family, he must return to his previous, perilous job.

“Gerry can’t fly, he can’t beat up bad guys. He has no super-powers. He’s a dad, with a burning need to keep his family safe,” says Pitt. “To do that, he can only rely on his intellect, his instincts and his experience.”