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Zack Snyder Says Replacing This Army Of The Dead Actor Was A No-Brainer

Critics and audiences have responded positively to Zack Snyder's "Army of the Dead" so far, praising the genre-bending zombie opus for its over-the-top action sequences and its heart. The story follows a ragtag group of mercenaries, led by Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), as they travel through an undead-ridden Las Vegas in an effort to retrieve a substantial amount of money from a casino vault. One of the most important members of the carnage-causing posse is Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), a cigar-chomping helicopter pilot who's tasked with safely flying the team out of the city after the mission is complete. Peters was a late addition to the "Army of the Dead" cast, but her inclusion meant that the project was able to reach the finish line.

As TMZ notes, comedian Chris D'Elia was originally supposed to play the pilot in "Army of the Dead," but he was fired from the movie after he became the subject of several misconduct allegations. While D'Elia denies any wrongdoing and the investigations are currently ongoing, Snyder and co. had no reservations about replacing him as soon as the accusations came to light.

Zack Snyder has no regrets about replacing Chris D'Elia in Army of the Dead

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Snyder revealed that the decision to replace D'Elia was a "fairly easy one," wincing as he recalled the situation involving the scandal-plagued comedian. He also believes that the presence of Tig Notaro elevated "Army of the Dead" beyond simply helping get rid of the stain left behind by D'Elia's controversies. Snyder said that Notaro brought a new dimension to the film that he wasn't expecting. "I think the movie is better with Tig Notaro, frankly, because she's more unexpected and she's more fun," Snyder said. 

While they were able to turn a negative situation into a positive, the filmmakers understood the risks involved from the outset. According to Snyder, the situation could have been a "disaster" if he didn't have the right team in place. Fortunately, his colleagues are used to working on huge visual effects blockbusters, so replacing D'Elia without the audience noticing the differences went off without a hitch. Of course, it did mean that the movie had to go over its original budget.

Adding Tig Notario upped the movie's production budget by a few million dollars

Recasting Chris D'Elia did give the filmmakers some headaches during the production of "Army of the Dead." They had to erase all mention of D'Elia and digitally insert Tig Notaro into the scenes instead. Given that the situation unfolded during the pandemic, reshooting the scenes with the actors together wasn't an option, so they had to get creative and spend a lot of money. During the conversation with Vanity Fair, Deborah Snyder revealed that the cost of adding the new actor was equivalent to the entire budget for "Army of Thieves," the upcoming prequel to their zombie blockbuster that will stream on Netflix in the near future. However, the filmmakers credited Netflix for "doing the right thing" and putting their "money where their mouth is."

Another risky factor was Notaro's health. Because she's a cancer survivor, it would not have been advisable for her to make any movies during a pandemic. Deborah Snyder admitted that Notaro was nervous about her health being compromised, but she pressed ahead and didn't encounter any issues in the end.

Tig Notaro's Army of the Dead co-stars still haven't met her

Some of Notaro's scenes in "Army of the Dead" were obviously the product of some expert digital wizardry, but other moments with her team come across as if she was with her fellow cast members the entire time. In one scene that Snyder assumed they'd have to cut, she's featured in the background as Dave Bautista leads the mercenaries down a corridor. As he told Vanity Fair, "When we first talked about it, I was like, 'This is gonna be really hard because they're all backlit and haloed and there's a lens flare.' But it came out perfectly."

Bautista and Notaro have some excellent chemistry with each other in "Army of the Dead," but the former WWE Champion still hasn't been formally introduced to his co-star. While speaking to Vulture, the actor said that he feels like he has a connection with Notaro due to the power of the scenes, and it bugs him that they still haven't been acquainted. "I feel like I should know her," Bautista said. "I want to meet her, and I want to hug her and tell her how amazing she was in the film."