British actor Harry Treadaway swaps drama for broad comedy in the James Moran scripted horror flick, Cockneys vs Zombies. In a cast that includes Alan Ford, Dudley Sutton, Richard Briers and Honor Blackman, it’s easy for the younger cast members to feel overshadowed. LWLies spoke with the up and coming star on the dog and bone about his foray into a traditionally gore-soaked genre.
LWLies: Were you attracted to this film as a fan of the genre or was it because you fancied something a bit different?
Harry Treadaway: I must admit I’m not a horror aficionado. It was quite eye-opening, really. Working on something with the living dead was quite new for me.
You received a script called Cockneys vs Zombies through the door. What did you think? Traditionally these sorts of films aren’t great.
You don’t find out about anything until you read it and, you know, it’s a very punchy title. But you do think, ‘Oh, God’. The ‘versus’ genre is quite often not brilliant, but when I read it I thought it was really special and not what you expect to find [from something] with that title. It’s a movie about family, and that’s what I really liked about it. The heart of it is these three grandchildren trying to save their grandfather from being kicked out of his old people’s home. That as a start was really lovely and unusual. Then there’s a zombie outbreak.
The role and film is a bit different from what you usually appear in. Is it harder to do broad comedy than straight drama?
I think I did it because I hadn’t done a comedy before and I wanted the challenge of that. I think you try and find the truth in a situation. Where you have scenes of an old age pensioner with an Uzi or an old age pensioner who has turned into a zombie – that’s quite a challenge. So I thought if I could find the truth… That was the reason, well, one of the reasons. I don’t think it’s particularly harder [in terms of acting]. It all depends on who you’re working with and the script.
How did director Matthias Hoene sell the project to you? The style of Cockneys vs. Zombies seems highly influenced by graphic novels. Yes, it’s so brash isn’t it? I think we really tried to do that. Also play it straight and not… There’s so much going on with the zombies. We had to find something between the relationships with the family and between the people in the old people’s home.
The zombie genre is quite an oversaturated market. Do you think your will stand out?
Hopefully. As I said, I’m not an expert on the genre so I haven’t seen all of them. I wouldn’t want to talk about something I don’t know, but I hope that Cockneys vs Zombies is enjoyable for people and that it’s got a root and a heartfelt story as well as the action stuff.
Was Alan Ford intimidating to work with?
He’s a gentleman and a charming man. He’s a vegetarian and so am I, which you would not expect, right? But he is. No, Alan is great. Honor Blackman, Richard Briers and Dudley Sutton were just really fantastic and a fantastically rich cast to be working with . We younger actors were in awe of these actors that have done so much. They are icons and they’re strapping guns onto Zimmer frames and stuff. It was surreal.
Do you hope to be acting when you’ve reach your eighties?
I think it’s inspiring and part of the wonderful thing about this job is there is no age to stop. If I can be killing zombies with hedge cutters at eighty, I’ll be thrilled.
George A. Romero introduced social commentary and subtext to the zombie movie – did the director or writer ever discuss anything along those lines for the film?
We were certainly not working on some political message when we were doing it. Maybe by us doing that it leaves it more open to interpretation. I don’t think the film drives any political point about what the zombies are supposed to represent.
Was this purely a film of genre pleasure then unencumbered by subtext?
It’s a fun film without necessarily any big message in there apart from the story of the family, and ‘Let’s have some incredible action in there’. It wasn’t something that was spoken about when we were making it, anyway.