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Athletes And Rabies Inspired The 'Zombies' In 28 Days Later

The opening scene of director Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" doesn't feel like a typical zombie movie. As Cillian Murphy's character, Jim, traverses a trashed and deserted London, the only sound audiences hear is the iconic soundtrack with its swelling guitar and unrelenting percussions. However, when Jim encounters a zombie for the first time in a church, it becomes clear this is not only a zombie movie, but it is also a new take on the genre. 

The zombies of "28 Days Later" are red-eyed, athletic, and bursting with energy — a far cry from the glacially-paced zombies of movies past, like in "Night of the Living Dead." While some have wondered what the point is in creating a new breed of zombies, they may have finally gotten their answers thanks to a recent interview with NME. In it, Boyle revealed his inspiration for the turbo-zombies and teased a possible third movie in the franchise, 15 years after "28 Weeks Later" ended on a less hopeful note than the original film did.  

The movie's Rage virus was inspired by a real world phenomenon

As a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 2002 film, some of the cast of "28 Days Later" joined Danny Boyle in speaking with NME. When it came to the movie's speedy zombies, Boyle admitted he found real athletes to play the terrifying creatures.

"We wanted [the extras] to be athletes with almost superhuman running abilities so that there was no way you could run away from them," Boyle said. "We hired a load of ex-athletes to play a lot of the infected so that we'd have this power in them that was really quite scary." Boyle also revealed the movie's "Rage" virus and the uncontrollable anger it caused its victims was derived from an unexpected source. "[I was interested in] ​​that moment of incandescent, murderous fury that you have when you're driving a car and you just lose it," Boyle said.

There may be a 28 Months Later coming soon

In the interview, Danny Boyle also mentioned another surprising inspiration for his zombies' inhuman violence. "There's a sequence in your death throes [when you have rabies] where you get this weird thing [that scientists] don't understand called 'hydrophobia,' which is a fear of water," he said. "[We had] photos from the 1930s of people dying with rabies, and they're being approached with a bowl of water, and the expression on their face when they see this water is absolutely terrified."

The most surprising reveal was that Alex Garland, who wrote the script for "28 Days Later," recently penned another sequel called "28 Months Later." "I'd be very tempted [to direct it]," Boyle said. "It feels like a very good time actually. It's funny; I hadn't thought about it until you just said it, and I remembered 'Bang, this script!' which is again set in England, very much about England."

Anyway, we'll see." Boyle also conceded that it's hard to get people into theaters these days, but he expressed hope that a third movie might attract moviegoers. It's been a while since "28 Days Later," and Cillian Murphy has been up to a lot since then, but a return to this franchise, even if it focuses on new characters, will likely bring fans to theaters.