Films

12 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About 28 Days Later

It's hard to remember a time when zombies weren't infecting both our big and small screens but before 28 Days Later in 2002, they'd been relegated to B-movie hell since the 80s  It took a tiny budget and a daring reinvention of the genre (they run!) to reignite our love for the living dead which led to World War Z, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead and many many more.

Here are 12 things you might not know about the surprise horror hit.

  • 12 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About 28 Days Later

    1.

    Megan Burns, who played the young girl Hannah, tried to reinvent herself as a goth singer called Betty Curse. Her highest charting entry was at #116 in the UK charts.

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    2.

    The mansion was actually Trafalgar Park near Salisbury. The scenes upstairs were shot downstairs, as the owners lived upstairs.

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    3.

    Rather than associating it with other zombie movies, writer Alex Garland's original inspiration was The Day of the Triffids, a book by John Wyndham that was made into a film in 1963. It tells the tale of a species of plant that starts to take over the world.

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    4.

    Danny Boyle cast athletes as the zombies so you could "sense the power" within them.

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    5.

    How did they manage those incredible deserted scenes of London on a £5 million budget? Police closed the roads at 4am and shooting started immediately. To prevent angry drivers, Danny Boyle used attractive young women, including his daughter, to make the requests.

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    6.

    Ewan McGregor was the first choice for the main role and after that didn't work out, Ryan Gosling was the next choice but he had a scheduling conflict.

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    7.

    Robert Carlyle was offered the role of Major West that ended up going to Christopher Eccleston. Carlyle then ended up starring in the sequel 28 Weeks Later.

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    8.

    Naomie Harris and Danny Boyle worked out a back-story for her character that was never used in the film. Apparently she was hardened by having to kill her infected parents in order to save her baby brother, who she then found out was also infected.

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    9.

    James McAvoy auditioned for a role in the film, except it wasn't for the role he thought it was."I thought I was going up for one of the leads but it actually transpired that I was actually reading for a featured zombie," he revealed. "I was like, "Brilliant! Bring it on. It has come to this. I've made it… all the way to the fucking middle." It said I could do acrobatics on my CV, so Danny said "Can you do a back-flip? I want to see." He was trying to figure out how the zombies might move. So I gave him a back-flip, chatted for 20 minutes and never got the part."

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    10.

    The film inspired a series of comics as well as a graphic novel called 28 Days Later: The Aftermath. The comics follow Selena as she lives in a refugee camp in Norway.

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    11.

    There was a rather depressing alternate ending that saw Cillian Murphy's character die in an abandoned hospital.  It was reshot as test audiences found it too downbeat but attached to US prints as an Easter egg late in the run. You can see it here.

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    12.

    Talk of a third film, after the slightly disappointing 28 Weeks Later, has existed for years but just recently, there was an important update from screenwriter Alex Garland. “We’ve just started talking about it seriously," he recently explained. "We’ve got an idea. Danny [Boyle, his long-time collaborator] and [producer] Andrew [Macdonald] and I have been having quite serious conversations about it so it is a possibility. It’s complicated. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why it’s complicated, which are boring so I won’t go into, but there’s a possibility.”

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