The Dead Don't Die: Darien's Chloë Sevigny battles zombies, raises environmental awareness in new movie
While movies and small screen projects about zombies have the obvious visceral impact on the viewer, many have historically been about more than the undead apocalypse. Jim Jarmusch’s new movie, The Dead Don’t Die, out this Friday, June 14, is tackling the impacts of consumerism and environmental impacts along with comedic horror with a star-studded ensemble cast. Darien native Chloë Sevigny plays small town police officer Mindy Morrison, along with Bill Murray and Adam Driver, also police officers, who face the unthinkable when zombies attack.
In speaking with The Darien Times, Sevigny, a Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated actress, classified the new movie as “comedy/horror/social commentary.” Much like the classic zombie movie Night of the Living Dead — which has drawn theories of racial and social justice satire in its themes — Sevigny points out there are many “homages” to that classic in The Dead Don’t Die.
This doesn’t surprise Sevigny, given she says, “Jarmusch couldn’t make a vapid movie if he tried.”
“It’s easy to give yourself over to his world — let yourself go along for the ride,” she said.
Though Sevigny’s most recent film was “Lizzie” on the story of Lizzie Borden, and she’s appeared in American Horror Story — she doesn’t necessarily agree with the classification of horror.
“It’s such a broad term — more of a marketing strategy,” she said. She added that The Dead Don’t Die has little graphic effects that can often be associated with zombie movies.
“There’s some gore, but not a lot of blood and guts — it’s not a very gory picture,” she said.
As far as liking scary movies herself, Sevigny says she’s a fan of movies in general.
“I love the art form — there’s so much to explore there, so many different stories to tell and so many ways to tell them,” she said.
“I like to go to the movies and give myself over to them — to think about what I’d do in those circumstances. I like being transported to other worlds. I love learning new things, seeing charismatic actors enjoy themselves and being challenged — but I do like a good scare now and again,” she said.
The Dead Don’t Die has quite the ensemble cast. In addition to Sevigny, Murray, and Driver, the cast includes Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi, Carol Kane, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, Rosie Perez, RZA and Danny Glover, among others.
Sevigny says most of her films and television shows have been more ensemble pieces. She previously acted in the film Broken Flowers, also directed by Jarmusch and starring Murray.
“I’m more attracted to the filmmakers and the stories in general,” she said.
She added that working with Murray again was definitely an appeal.
“Just basking in Bill’s presence is reason enough to do the film — just being around that guy, because he’s just so extraordinary and charming and otherworldly,” Sevigny said.
“Filmmaking is such a joint effort — the camaraderie – all of that I enjoy,” she said.
The film was recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and Sevigny said viewers at the festival gave her good feedback on her character.
“People were coming up and saying they felt I was the heart of the film because I’m the one character who is less than deadpan. You can really feel the fear of what’s happening in the town through her,” Sevigny said.
She said Mindy is a way for the audience to access what is really going on. Sevigny, a style icon, also added it was nice to there with everyone and “glammed up.”
As far as what she hopes viewers will take from The Dead Don’t Die, Sevigny says she wants “people to have fun and laugh and it’s not hard to do that.”
She also wants the movie to make people think about “where we are heading environmentally.”
“It hopefully wakes some people up a little bit, to think about how they consume a little more and our obsession with material goods,” Sevigny said.
Sevigny’s most recent movie, Lizzie, was a new take on the story of Lizzie Borden, co-starring Kristen Stewart, as the maid, Bridget Sullivan. The movie shows a deeper look at the Lizzie Borden story, including a dysfunctional and sometimes abusive relationship with her father, and a romantic relationship with Bridget.
Sevigny said she was inspired by the story after staying at the Lizzie Borden bed and breakfast in Fall River, Mass.
“I felt a deep connection to her —Growing up with a frugal father, she was surrounded by all these wealthy families and being such an outcast,” she said.
“I was very drawn to that, and the age she was when the murders occurred, and what it meant to be a woman in that time period — all the puritanical kind of New England norms that she was dealing with. There are a lot of layers as to why I was attracted to her character and the project,” Sevigny said.
Sevigny has also been directing – she has directed three short films, one of which was played in the Cannes Film Festival short film section. She said that directing her own work has made her feel refreshed in “giving myself to other filmmakers.”
“I’ve been in this business a really long time. I started to feel drained being part of other people’s stories and now, having my own, it is easier for me give myself over and get excited over other people’s projects,” Sevigny said.
Sevigny says she is back in Darien frequently these days, being a Manhattan resident and having her mother and her brother living here. She also makes sure to go to every Darien High School reunion.
“I’ve never missed one,” she said.
Sevigny said the high school friends she’s maintained friendships with, some of them since kindergarten, are “constants in my life and I love and cherish them.”
“I come back a few times a month. I love having this small town to come back to and seeing people I’ve known my entire life. I’m so in love with my nephews. We go to Post Corner Pizza, and the (Weed) beach playground, and Darien Butcher shop. I’m bumping into people all the time. There are fun things happening around town,” she said.
Sevigny said in the future, she’d want to direct a full feature film.
“I’d want to do something magical that appeals to children and adults, the kind of movies I grew up on, like Legend, the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I’m looking for along those lines,” she said.
“Something with more commercial appeal than one might expect – something really transportive and magical,” Sevigny said.