The play follows three of the bard's most famous women: Juliet, Lady Macbeth, and Ophelia, as they battle the Zombie Lord of Denmark (who bears a haunting resemblance to Hamlet) and his undead minions. Originally produced in 2006 by Nguyen's Vampire Cowboys, Living Dead in Denmark arguably spawned the trend of infusing B-movie gore into historical fiction and literary classics, a movement that has now reached its fruition with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the recent Hollywood movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
With so many classics being given the undead treatment, we thought it appropriate to ask this question to the cast of young actors (many of whom will doubtlessly audition for more than a few zombie roles):
If you could portray anyone from history or literature — but as a zombie — who would it be and why?
Here are their responses.
Zombie Dream Role: Sigmund Freud
I would love to hear his interpretation of zombie dreams. Do zombies dream? How are the ego, the id, and the superego affected by the all-consuming desire to eat live flesh and brains? Which one directs the zombie to feed? I'd figure it out…while eating brains. I mean, who wouldn't be fascinated by a man obsessed with all things cerebral? Think of the funny situations: A patient is lying on his couch, trying to get help with his psychological problems. All the while Freud is sitting there, trying to decide if he wants to eat brain or just understand it.
Zombie Dream Role: Hannibal Lecter
It sounds to me just like an eternal life of doing what you love doing anyway.
Zombie Dream Role: The Swedish Chef from the Muppets
I think a major difficulty in being a zombie, one that is often overlooked, is the fact that all your food is raw meat! It is usually fresh from a living body and no zombie seems to take the time to really experiment with spice and presentation. The Swedish Chef has the best ideas for flavoring and experimental preparation. I'd have all of my zombie friends over for a "shmergushberd" (smorgasbord) of spicy Swedish brain balls, and upper-thigh tartar.
Zombie Dream Role: Harry Potter
Not only is this guy smart, brave, and good-looking (he has dark hair and green eyes, people!), but his character has so many cool features. First of all, he is a wizard with a real wand; and even though he doesn't use the forbidden spells as a living wizard, he could probably get over his scruples as one of the living dead ("Avada Kedavra" would make hunting a lot easier). Second, he has a magic broom that a zombie can use for transportation overseas to get to other continents in search for even more brains. Third, Harry has wonderful leadership skills, which will make him a perfect Alpha Z in the undead world. Harry Potter would become the greatest flying-magic-using zombie lord of the future post-apocalypse.
Zombie Dream Role: Harry Houdini
His ultimate trick was allegedly escaping death. Did you know they hold a séance every year to try to communicate with him, thinking he'll return? It would be pretty hilarious if he just showed up to one of those things and pulled up a chair…as a zombie.
Zombie Dream Role: John Lennon
Because in the end, the brain you eat is equal to the brain you brain.
Zombie Dream Role: Gandalf the Grey
Ok, there's an obvious age gap I'd have to bridge. Also, I know this could be confusing to other Tolkien fans, considering Gandalf already returned from death as Gandalf the White, but hey, not as a zombie. Anyway, Gandalf the Grey is cooler and we all know it.
Zombie Dream Role: Harry Houdini
Not only is thwarting death and reanimation the world's greatest magic trick, but it takes pretty amazing sleight of hand and misdirection to eat someone before they notice!
Zombie Dream Role: Gandhi
If there is anyone who deserves to come back and live life as a zombie, it would be him. That man is such an inspiration to me. I chose him because I would get an opportunity cross-dress for a role. Also, I would get to say some of the most inspirational words that have ever been spoken ("Be the change you wish to see in the world"). He was a man who inspired movements for nonviolence and freedom across the world. Zombies are always portrayed as "bad" and I believe he would make people see the "good" in his fellow zombies. He would make the people believe that we can all live as one. Plus, he was vegetarian and used to fasting for long periods of time, so I think he could get around the diet.
Zombie Dream Role: Willow Smith
I would totally snap my neck back and forth.
Zombie Dream Role: Carlos Castañeda
[ed. note: We had to Google this one.]
His first three books were written as a student at UCLA, chronicling his apprenticeship with a traditional "Man of Knowledge" identified as Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian Shaman/Sorcerer from northern Mexico. Those books got him his bachelor's and doctoral degrees, not to mention widespread fame. He is now considered the Godfather of New Age. If he came back as a zombie he would instantly have thousands of followers at his feet. Would he lead a revolution? Would he teach the masses the secrets of navigating other dimensions? Would he bring dark forces from other dimensions to our world? There is so much opportunity for great storytelling with him.
Zombie Dream Role: Princess Diana
She would be an exciting challenge because she is the antithesis of how zombies are historically depicted. From the media, we have all come to know the poised and regal princess who became one of the world's most visible philanthropists. But what about the layers of Princess Diana that we didn't get to see? It is the deeper and darker aspects of her that interest me. As a zombie, there would be no reasons left to hide those parts of herself, no reason to maintain the façade of perfection. Diana, the zombie with a darker side, could eat the brains of the scum of the planet while thousands cheer.
Zombie Dream Role: Achilles
He would be the ultimate warrior, brought back to life by a team of American scientists to single-handedly defeat the zombie Nazi army of invaders. Also, if the design team could somehow make me look like Brad Pitt in Troy, that would be the win-win.
Zombie Dream Role: Plague-ridden 14th Century European Peasant
I think a really interesting time period to tell a zombie story would be the 14th century, circa the Black Death. What if what's in the history books isn't what really happened? What if the bubonic plague wasn't a plague, but a zombie uprising that eventually cut the population of Europe in half? I want to play a villager traveling across the continent, recruiting undead soldiers. In Living Dead in Denmark some of the zombies are quite articulate. I would definitely want to be a zombie that can reason with his future victims. The best part would be finding out whether or not the zombies succeed in turning the world into legions of the undead. What if we're all actually zombies?
[ed. Note: I think the charming and articulate zombies you're talking about are actually called "vampires."]
Zombie Dream Role: Jesus Christ
In the hands of a capable writer, any role could be a dream role, zombie or not. But zombie Jesus is up there. And zombie Benjamin Franklin. Or zombie Merlin. Think of all the things I could get done and the questions I could clear up. The possibilities with those characters would be endless.
He is risen. Happy Easter, everybody!