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Review of Interview: Josh Duhamel Talks Night of the Animated Dead, Voicing Harry Cooper

Night of the Animated Dead, which is an animated remake of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, is now available on Digital and will release October 5, 2021, on Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD. It features the voice talents of Josh Duhamel (Transformers) as Harry Cooper, Dulé Hill (Psych) as Ben, Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps) as Barbara, James Roday Rodriguez (A Million Little Things) as Tom, Katee Sackhoff (The Mandalorian) as Judy, Will Sasso (MadTV) as Sheriff McClelland, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) as Johnny, and Nancy Travis (Last Man Standing) as Helen Cooper.

“Siblings Barbara and Johnny visit their father’s grave in a remote cemetery in Pennsylvania when they are suddenly set upon by zombies,” says the official synopsis. “Barbara flees and takes refuge in an abandoned farmhouse along with stranded motorist Ben and four local survivors found hiding in the cellar. Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese caught up with Night of the Animated Dead star Josh Duhamel to chat about the film, working with WWE star Sheamus in Buddy Games, and his future as a director.

RELATED: Interview: Dulé Hill on Starring in Night of the Animated Dead, Its Portrayal of Race

Tyler Treese: Night of the Living Dead is such a classic. I was really curious about your relationship with the original film. When did you first see it?

Josh Duhamel: I first saw it years and years ago, and I watched it again before I started recording for this animated version of it. I watched it, I think, a little bit more closely this time, just to try to figure out what it was about this movie that made it a classic and what it is about. Just to kind of set off a whole wave of zombie movies since then. That was really what I watched to see what is it about this movie that made it such a classic. I just think that there’s a silence to it. There’s like a breeze where you can just feel like the tension throughout and these creatures that just keep coming, even though they’re slow-moving and they don’t feel all that imposing, they’re still deadly and they keep coming. There’s something there that makes you feel trapped.

There’s something mental about it that I think makes the people just love that. What would you do in this situation? You have time to try to get away or you have time to retreat into a shelter and try to fight them off one by one. Like, what is it about these things that you can try to overcome? I think that’s kind of what makes these movies work. I thought they did a really good job of recreating the movie in an animated fashion, but also preserving the original tone of it.

Yeah. I think because it is that first modern zombie film, it’s able to focus on really the human element rather than where did the zombies come from? Harry’s kind of largely overwhelmed by the shocking situation that he’s in. Can you speak to that element and what really interested you about this character?

Yeah, this character Harry Cooper is a guy who is seen as the antagonist in the movie, but I didn’t really see it like that. I saw him as a guy who was just trying to save his family and trying to wrap his head around what was going on. What all of these things are? What happened to my daughter, is she infected? Is she going to turn into one of these things? His idea was retreating to the cellar. Hoping that nobody would find him down there and they would all possibly be okay. That’s sort of where the conflict lies with he and Ben on Ben’s idea to stay upstairs and try to fight them off at the threshold. I think that, yes, he was sort of, a prickly and agitating character in a lot of ways, but who wouldn’t be in that situation. That’s kind of where I saw it.

I know you’ve worked with James Roday before. How’d you come onto this project?

We have a mutual friend named Michael Luisi, who produced this. Michael Luisi ran WWE studios and greenlit Buddy Games and was my biggest sort of champion in that. So when he asked me to be a part of it, I jumped at it. He’s a good friend, a great producer, and I just liked the idea of being a part of this.

RELATED: Interview: Josh Duhamel on Playing Two-Face in Batman: The Long Halloween

I was going to ask you about Buddy Games. I know it kind of got trashed by critics, but I really liked it. I like that type of comedy that doesn’t really take itself too seriously. I feel like they’re really underrepresented nowadays. WWE star Sheamus has a fun role in that. How was it like working with him?

Well, first of all, thank you for saying that. I love the movie too, and I love movies like this. We knew going in that we were going to get trashed by the critics, but we got the ultimate fuck you to them because the movie killed and we’re making another one. So I’m sure they’re going to be equally as harsh the second time around, but I kind of welcome it in a way because people do love this stuff. They love irreverent, hardcore, unapologetic comedy. That’s really what we try to deal with. Just try to do something that there are no holds barred.

Sheamus came on as part of the deal was we had to have one character from the WWE world, from the wrestling world to be in the movie. These guys were big brutish dudes and they didn’t really fit into the original group. So we found a character that we thought one of them could play, and it was this pawn shop owner. I got to say, Sheamus came in and absolutely crushed it. He was great. I think that they loved the fact that they get to play the real characters and I thought he came in and did a fantastic job.

So are you going to be directing again?

Yeah. I’ll direct the second one. I just read the first draft of it. I think it’s funnier than the first one. Of course, I’m gonna say that, but I really do. I cannot wait to get into it,

You also got to appear on WWE television, you were on RAW and SmackDown. How fun was it to actually be on the show and is your son a fan of wrestling or was that just for the film?

Yeah, my son is a huge John Cena fan. I went on the SmackDown stuff as sort of an early promotion to raise awareness for the film in the beginning. I got to kind of go down into the inner sanctum of how that all goes down. I thought it was fascinating. Having lunch with all those guys and watching them rehearse and get ready for the night. All the production that goes into just a single show there is pretty amazing.

Later this year you have Blade Runner: Black Lotus coming out. I know you’re no stranger to being involved in incredible storied franchises. How exciting was it to be involved with Blade Runner?

I think that people are gonna really love that. It’s a really new sort of animation. It’s this really interesting combination between motion capture and full animation. The movement of the characters feels real. I think it’s because they literally took motion captured actors and animated from that. It looks amazing. It’s like a beautiful film. I haven’t seen the whole thing all the way through. Just got to see the stuff that I went in to work on, but it was pretty cool. It’s pretty cool how they sort of invented a new form of animation.

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