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These Alternate Zombieland Cameos Would Have Been Wild

There are a number of great and inventive moments in "Zombieland," but none more memorable or iconic than its Bill Murray cameo. The 2009 film offers a unique comedic take on the well-established zombie horror genre — one that actively acknowledges and winks at many of its established tropes. The film's characters all live based on various rules they've created for surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, and a large part of the film's charm comes from the chemistry between its four lead actors, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone.

Despite the charms of its central cast, the film's funniest moment actually comes when "Ghostbusters" actor Bill Murray makes an unexpected, extended cameo. Playing a version of himself that has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse, the scene sees Murray hanging out with the film's central group after they break into his Hollywood home. The sequence features numerous references to Murray's real-life film work and hilariously ends when Eisenberg's Columbus accidentally kills the actor.

It's a sequence that remains as delightful and ingenious today as it was when "Zombieland" was first released back in 2009, thanks mostly to Murray's impeccable comedic timing. In fact, Murray is so important to the scene's success, that it's hard to imagine any other actor appearing in his place. "Zombieland" fans may be surprised to learn, though, that there were actually a number of other notable celebrities who were offered Murray's cameo appearance in the film.

Kevin Bacon and Jean-Claude Van Damme were both offered Bill Murray's cameo in Zombieland

Bill Murray wasn't the only actor "Zombieland" screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick considered for the film's iconic celebrity cameo scene. According to the screenwriters themselves, Patrick Swayze, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Hamill, and Joe Pesci were all apparently considered for the sequence, and Reese and Wernick revealed last year that they also wrote versions of the scene for Kevin Bacon and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The "Zombieland" screenwriters shared script pages for both the Kevin Bacon and Jean-Claude Van Damme versions of the cameo scene on Twitter last year. The two versions each feature numerous references to Bacon and Van Damme's film careers and, like the Murray version that actually ended up in the film, revolve largely around the love and admiration that Woody Harrelson's Tallahassee feels toward the actors. However, Van Damme and Bacon's scenes would have seen them playing full-fledged zombies instead of just actors pretending to be zombies — like Murray. Bacon's zombie was also scripted to move and fight to the beat of Kenny Loggins' "Footloose."

Reese and Wernick went on to explain why neither Bacon nor Van Damme ended up appearing in the film. Wernick says that it was Bacon's representatives who turned down the offer and that the actor himself was never actually given the scene, but Bacon apparently invited the writers out to breakfast after the film's release to share his admiration for it. Van Damme, meanwhile, had to pass because he was working on another film at the time, and Reese says he later heard that not appearing in "Zombieland" was one of Van Damme's greatest regrets.

Fortunately, while these versions of the scene would have been memorable in their own ways, they don't quite match the humor and delightful absurdity of the film's actual Bill Murray cameo.