The ‘Zombieland’ Writers Originally Wanted An Even MORE Iconic Actor Than Bill Murray For That Scene-Stealing Part

'Zombieland' Writers Originally Wanted Joe Pesci For Bill Murray's Role

Sony Pictures

Earlier this year, I had the chance to chat with screenwriting duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick for a solid 30-minute-long conversation ahead of the release of their latest film, Spiderhead (which stars Miles Teller and Chris Hemsworth and is currently streaming on Netflix).

Truthfully, it was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve ever done, as we had enough time to not only tackle Spiderhead and the talents of Teller/Hemsworth but also their work on Life, Deadpool, and their upcoming Chris Evans and Ana de Armas-starring film Ghosted.

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The screenwriters of Zombieland originally wanted Joe Pesci for what would eventually become Bill Murray’s role in the film

One of the movies we didn’t get a chance to cover, though, was Zombieland, as I instead used that time to ask about Life, one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the last 20 years. Maybe I should’ve asked about it, though, as I perhaps would’ve gotten this awesome tidbit: according to Rhett Reese, they originally wanted Oscar winner Joe Pesci for the role eventually played by Bill Murray.

“We wanted Joe Pesci for what turned out to Bill Murray’s role in Zombieland. We warned Pesci’s agent it was a small part. He said, ‘There are no small parts, only small money.’ It was a no,” Rheese tweeted on Monday night.

While it’s difficult to imagine Joe Pesci puffing a hookah with Woody Harrelson, seeing Pesci in this sort of role would’ve undoubtedly been a hilariously surreal experience. Still, Murray’s appearance in Zombieland was obviously a highlight in what would become one of the great cult classics of the 2000s.

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Eric Italiano is a NYC-based writer who spearheads BroBible's Pop Culture and Entertainment content. He covers topics such as Movies, TV, and Video Games, while interviewing actors, directors, and writers.