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'Killing' star Enos has killer time on 'World War Z'

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:27:35 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 17 2013 02:44:58 PM CDT
Mireille Enos in 'World War Z'  (photo Paramount)(1)

Paramount Pictures

Mireille Enos in 'World War Z'

It's been a few days of highs and lows for gifted actress Mireille Enos: Highs like knowing her hit summer blockbuster "World War Z" is heading to home video for the masses to see; and lows like the cancellation of her critically-acclaimed AMC series "The Killing."

But, as Enos continues to prove in the professional sense, she's a survivor.

After all, "The Killing" was brought back for a third season despite being canceled after the second -- who's to say it can't happen again? And of course, in "World War Z," her character is trying to survive a rapidly growing zombie population.

In a recent interview, Enos told me while she's sad "The Killing" is over -- for now ("Never say never," she said) -- she's thrilled the show gave life to a slate of new opportunities.

"Just getting to do the work on 'The Killing' put me more in the spotlight for more people to see," Enos said of her role of Detective Sarah Linden, which earned her a Best Actress Emmy nomination in 2011. "Because of that, (director) Marc Forster sent me the script and the rest is history."

New on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download Tuesday (Paramount Home Media Distribution), "World War Z" tracks a race against time to find a cure for a zombie pandemic that is quickly consuming the world. Brad Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a United Nations investigator who hops the globe worldwide in a desperate attempt to find "patient zero" in the outbreak, which the UN hopes leads to a cure.

Enos stars as Gerry's wife, Karin, who along with their two daughters, find safety with the military at sea until an unfortunate turn of events force them off the vessel and on to an island while Gerry struggles to survive during his investigation.

"World War Z" is a triumph for the cast and crew, not only for the fact it's an intense thriller that captivated audiences over the summer; but because critics and industry types were champing at the bit to declare the zombie film dead on arrival long before it opened in theaters.

Of course, there was good reason to believe the lowest of low expectations by the pundits: the film was widely reported as plagued by budget problems, production snafus and reshoots.
Enos is just glad that the final product proved the naysayers wrong, and despite its troubles, the filmmakers didn't leave their zombie opus for, well, dead.

"The thing is, everybody connected to the project loved it so much that they weren't going to release it until it was ready," Enos said. "But the press around it was so weird, mean-spirited and angry. I was just so delighted that when it came out and just swept everything away."

Enos, 37, said she got the sense everything was going to be alright when she received an encouraging note from a very reliable source.

"Right before it was released, before I had seen the final cut, Brad sent me an email that said, 'The final version is done and it's going to be a killer,'" Enos recalled. "And it was."

While the ultra-intense opening 20 minutes of the film are what got critics and film fans buzzing the most over the summer, Enos said the main title sequence -- which effectively shows real-life scenes of a world spinning out of control -- is a thrilling harbinger of things to come in the film. The zombie pandemic after that, she added, is a perfect metaphor of what could happen after.

"I think zombies are the current analogy for our fears of what's actually going on in the planet," Enos observed. "Because zombies aren't real, it's a safe place to put those fears. A movie like 'World War Z' gives us a chance to work out our feelings of what's going on in the world. What I loved most about the script was that it kept bringing us back to that -- to the humanity and reality of how we do or don't help each other in a crisis."

Based on the best-selling novel by Max Brooks, Enos said the film is rare in that it can work on different levels with audiences.

"Zombie geeks can go and watch all the really awesome effects, and then there's this really interesting human story that's going on at the same time," Enos explained.

As for the fulfilling the expectations of fans of the Brooks' novel, Enos said she felt little pressure because of the story and screenplay were so dramatically different.

"I read the book and thought it was a wonderful narrative, but it's not filmic," Enos said. "It's a piece of literature, and so I knew that our movie would be very different. I just kept the script and the book separate in my mind and just tell the story we were trying to tell. The writers took care of trying to connect it to the book. There are images from the book that we find in the film, but ultimately we had to go our own way."

In some cases, the zombie actors were so frightening that Enos didn't even worry about the performing, she just did what came naturally.

"There were scenes in the stairwell of an apartment building where there really were these big, scary athletic guys in zombie make-up chasing us up the stairs," Enos said with a laugh. "I could hear their footfalls and it was actually really terrifying. It took care of a lot of the acting for me."