There’s a scene in Zombieland: Double Tap where Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus and Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee bump into their doppelgangers, played in the film by Thomas Middleditch and Luke Wilson. It plays like a nice nod to a similar moment in Shaun Of The Dead.
Middleditch, who plays a comedic version of a tech start-up CEO in HBO’s Silicon Valley, is pitch-perfect casting as the mirror image of Columbus, especially when you remember Eisenberg’s star-making turn as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. However, as we learned in an interview with Zombieland: Double Tap director Ruben Fleischer, the role of Eisenberg’s doppelganger was originally earmarked for another impeccable actor when it comes to awkwardness: a certain Superbad star by the name of Michael Cera.
“I don’t know if I should say this or not,” Fleischer confided, “but Michael Cera was kind of like the original person [for that role], just because Jesse and Michael are always mistaken. And I was surprised that he didn’t want to do it.”
Fleischer went on to stress that Middleditch is great for the part: “But Thomas is perfect,” the director enthused. “I mean, he’s such a funny, funny guy, and an amazing improviser. And he brought something that just made it so special.”
The director adds: “It’s one of my favourite moments in the whole movie, and yeah, I felt really, really lucky that it ended up being Thomas because he’s just an incredible performer and brought so much comedy. And the parallels are striking. When you look at them side by side, I mean, it’s really funny. Just the visual – like a weird funhouse mirror, is what Emma [Stone] says. But yeah, it’s really true: they’re like weird doppelgangers.”
Zombieland: Double Tap hits UK cinemas on 18 October. We’ll publish the full interview with Fleischer later this week.