‘And Nothing Happened’ Sheds Light On The Aftermath Of Sexual Assault


“Own it, examine it, and confront it head on…”

Over the course of this past year, many women have come forward about sexual assault and faced the backlash head on—from Emma Sulkowicz holding Columbia University accountable with her Carry That Weight performance art piece to the women accusing Ian O'Connor of sexual assault to the anonymous ex-Spelman student who called out the Morehouse administration for not handling her report properly to Brock Turner's case that continues to develop in real time. Today, we are honored to premiere the trailer for And Nothing Happened, a short film by Naima Ramos-Chapman about the psychological trauma of sexual assault.

In-between screening her short film at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Ramos-Chapman told us that people have been really receptive to the film so far. One of the first viewings happened to coincide with the release of the Stanford rape victim's letter.

"I remember reading it right after my screening, and feeling super heartbroken but also very proud of [the victim] for speaking out and confronting—even though she’s still reeling from the trauma—and being able to talk about it so profoundly," said Ramos-Chapman. "That’s exactly why I made my film—being really frustrated with the idea that we should not speak, or feel ashamed enough to not speak about it. It’s something that’s a crime, it’s something that’s wrong and happens to so many women, and men too."

As much as the film focuses on sexual assault, Ramos-Chapman emphasized that it's also about PTSD and mental health. "Seeing that imaging, especially in the black community, I don’t think it’s very common. It is a part of everyday life, and it doesn’t make you a monster. There are levels of it."

As a survivor herself, the topic hits very close to home for Ramos-Chapman. In addition to directing and writing the film, she also plays the starring role in her production. "I had some trepidation about that, but the bottom line is that I felt like I wouldn’t know how to communicate to an actor on how to hit the right tone," she said. "It’s like a poetic amalgamation of me and survivors I’ve met over the years... It is a world I know too well."

By having complete control over the production, Ramos-Chapman was also able to regain agency, which she mentioned is a huge deal for anyone that has dealt with trauma.

"I think in some ways being all up in and around this film was my own way of trying to regain control of my life post-sexual assault," she added. "Being able to say ‘Yeah, this thing happened to me,’ but in some ways take back that which this person tried to take," she said. "Own it, examine it, and confront it head on, and not let it change me for the worse. What can I build out of this so I’m not ruminating in the tragedy of it all?"

Prior to producing And Nothing Happened, Ramos-Chapman was a journalist working at a think tank in Washington, D.C. During that time, she wrote for reputable media companies such as Huffington Post, The Nation, NPR, Colorlines, Postbourgie, and Saint Heron.
"I was trying to figure out how to rebuild my life," she said. "It was my first time out on my own, in a different city—a really exciting time in my life. I was going through typical life stuff—my then-boyfriend and I were kind of shaky, I was in a new job, making new friends, and then, I was sexually assaulted."
The psychological damage forced Ramos-Chapman to leave her job and move back home to New York with her mother. During this reset phase, she tried to pick up acting again through an apprenticeship at The Barrow Group. However, she grew frustrated about the lack of diversity in terms of the parts that she was offered to audition for. A filmmaker that she befriended recommended that she take matters into her own hands and write her own script instead.
"I was studying at this restaurant, pulled out a notebook, and just started writing and thinking," she said.
About 20 minutes later, a script for a "slice of life" film based on her experience materialized.
"It is not about what happened to me when I was sexually assaulted. A re-enactment does not interest me. It’s more about the internal struggle that I and many women go through days, weeks, even years after they’ve been raped—how things change on the ground of their psyche and spirit, and how they’re forced to deal with the world differently once their physical wounds heal but the ones unseen remain," she explained. "Rape is brutal and one of the many tragedies one might have to confront is this intense desire for a return to normalcy—to be able to react to the same things, love the same things, and be in the world the same way you used to before. To be unafraid of walking into a bar alone, of bumping into a man on a crowded train and not immediately fearing he will violate you, or venturing down a street alone without fearing for your life are real privileges lost."

Sexual violence is a heavy topic, and the way that it is covered in films tends to lean on the over-dramatic and sensationalized side. Ramos-Chapman pointed to Law & Order: SVU as an example of how the intensity is often very loud, in your face, and centralized around the rapitst's actions instead of focusing on the turmoil. She was tired of these narratives where women were brutalized or subjected to violence. Instead, she explores what happens internally after the fact—the layers of violation, the loss of control, and all of the things that can’t be seen or touched.
"I cared about the topic, and wanted to make a film about it but was struggling with how to successfully do it without subscribing to rape tropes. I wanted it to be a piece that you can viscerally understand without having to be shown a woman with a black eye strewn across the floor bleeding, because not all rape looks like that but all rape is worth putting an end to," said Ramos-Chapman.

While her film might be triggering for some viewers, especially those that have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence, Ramos-Chapman wanted to challenge herself with this project.
"I wanted to show that it’s way more complicated than people understand and won’t know until it happens to them—and hopefully it doesn’t," she said. "Not showing the same thing you’re used to seeing when it comes to brutality is important. Human beings deserve your empathy because they do, not because of what they look like."
Though fictional, And Nothing Happened has documentary-esque qualities with hints of surrealism. It makes the production come across more personal as viewers are given a lens into this cinematic version of her life, which Ramos-Chapman describes as "visually distilled vignettes" of what it's like to wake up in a post-rape world.

"As a woman you’re instructed by society to walk through this world on edge but once you’ve been raped there’s this feeling that you have completely fallen off the cliff. Patriarchy has pushed you off it and there is no going back," she added. "And Nothing Happened is about this cliff, this surrealist chasm where the psycho-spiritual world is that nobody can see exists. Where past, present, and the future of what happened to you somewhat collide in space. "

Another major aspect of And Nothing Happened is that it contained an all-female crew and cast from start to finish. Ramos-Chapman wanted women involved at every stage of production. "I feel more at home with women. I come from a family of all women. Women run my world so it didn’t seem unusual to have all women on set," she said. "Getting women involved at all levels is important."
As she elaborated on the level of comfort within this environment, Ramos-Chapman perked up as she mentioned how filming took place in her actual childhood home. She refers to the production as a "familly affair" with everyone being super hands on. In the scenes between Ramos-Chapman and her mother, she touched on how she gained a new perspective of growing up with trauma. Ramos-Chapman went on to talk about how rape and sexual abuse are often cross-generational occurrences.
"My mom told me stories when we were young about having to walk down a dirt road with a knife in her book to ward off predatorial men who would drive up. Trying to get her into their cars, some would show her their dicks," said Ramos-Chapman. "She grew up to be pretty badass though. She bodyguarded for Angela Davis during the black power movement, got two degrees, raised two girls on her own, and taught us what it means to be a fiercely protective mother for better and worse."
With this film, Ramos-Chapman is not trying to trick viewers into thinking a certain way. As someone who dislikes preachy movies, the last thing she wants is for people to feel a moral obligation to do something. She wants them to draw their own conclusions.
"If you respect your audience, you shouldn’t have to tell them how to feel. You should present something and they should participate, interact with the film, and come up with their own conclusions," she said. " I want them to have to work through feeling uncomfortable, confronted, confused. I want them to feel everything." 

While it is often difficult for people to confront sexual assault, especially if someone is fortunte enough to not have experienced it firsthand, that doesn't mean you can't help to deconstruct it. Ramos-Chapman hopes that we can prevent potential rapists from "throwing their humanity away by violating someone else." 
As far as allyship is concerned, Ramos-Chapman thinks that it is everyone's duty to talk about rape culture instead of reverting to silence. By being quiet about it, she says we are complicit in perpetuating it. We have to dismantle the patriarchy. 

"I think we really need to teach boys and men how to not rape," she said. "We are always dealing with 'How do we take care of us? How do we bounce back from this thing that’s happened to us?' but we need to also pay attention to the people who are doing the raping. We need to figure out how to root out rape culture, starting with the men." 

Another thing that Ramos-Chapman recognizes is the illusion of safe spaces. She notes that people can feel triggered anywhere, even at home in a space where they are supposed to feel safe. Instead, we need to avert our attention to the spaces where the work actually needs to be done.
"I want women who this has happened to to feel inspired to speak out, and like they’re not alone. This happens to everyone, this happens in quiet spaces that you don’t think to secure," added Ramos-Chapman. "Really, there are no safe spaces in the physical world, so my task it to figure out how to accept that reality while continuing to move through the world in search of all that is still beautiful in it."  
In addition to filming And Nothing Happened, Ramos-Chapman has been reaching out to anti-rape organizations in an effort to give back in the same way that she was treated. While she is not 100 percent ready to step into the role of something as impactful as a RAINN—"those people are heroes, and you leave and may never see them again"—she thinks that she'll reach that point someday.
"I give back in my own different way. For some of us, it is making a film. For some of us, it’s doing that anonymously at night with an organization, or just being on the phone, or connecting someone with a lawyer who can help them litigate and figure out how to get retribution," she said. "I’ve been trying to reach out to yoga professionals. If I could find someone to bring it to a psycho-spiritual place... holistic healing specialized for rape victims, I’m sure it’s out there, I just have to find it. It’s a matter of time before those partnerships happen, but I definitely want to do more in that way."

Ramos-Chapman's coping strategy has been what you might expect from someone who becomes depressed after experiencing trauma—therapy, meditation, self-help books, and constantly reminding herself that "nothing that happens to you in this world is worth closing your heart for." She recalled a moment where she felt triggered when someone touched her arm and after she freaked out, she felt more upset by her reaction to the interaction. Instead of closing herself off, she aims to be open to opportunities that inspire hope. The support from her family and friends has also played a huge part in her healing process.
"Self care is also very important, especially as a black woman. There are people telling you you’re not beautiful in one way or another... you have to worry about your weight, what you wear, or you’re never going to be good enough," she said. "I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was cathartic to make this film, though I do think it’s hard for me to watch and have it screened. I need to do self care every time I screen it. I cannot get too attached to how people receive it, positive or negative. I have to let it go. It’s out in the world. It’s not mine anymore, it’s whatever people want to see."
For her next project, Ramos-Chapman is interested in unpacking normalized violence in the form of a stalker revenge film. "Unfortunately, a lot of women have been stalked. It might have been 10 minutes, it might have been a year. We all have that unfortunate situation where we do have to figure out how to get out of it," she said. "I’m interested in the complexities of what it means to be your own hero, someone else’s hero, or a failed hero."
As a filmmaker, Ramos-Chapman hopes to shift culture to be more welcoming toward complex female protagonists. While there are more women involved in film now, she wants to see more Ava DuVernays and Dee Rees and be a voice for that audience.
"Lena Dunham doesn’t speak for me, and she doesn't have to. The more women that actually get their stories out there the better," she said. "I want to be a part of the movement to tell our stories in a unique, nuanced way, push the needle on culture, and change the way we see female protagonists. The way we relate to each other in art, on the screen, and in mass media has an influence in how we do off the screen in profound ways."

Through her work, Ramos-Chapman hopes to continue tapping into people's emotional heart spaces. Furthermore, she wants to show young girls and women that their voices on these issues is essential to the conversation.

"We are not weak, we do not have to go it alone, we should not have to feel shame, we can choose to confront sexualized violence head-on," she said. "We can do it through art, or we can do it by reading a letter aloud during the sentencing of your convicted rapist."

And Nothing Happened premieres at the BAMcinemafest in Brooklyn, New York on June 22. To purchase tickets, click here.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.

Courtesy of Adidas

The Stan Smiths are a must-have

Adidas just shared its capsule of sneakers paying tribute to Keith Haring, and TBH I can already feel my wallet emptying (and they're not even on sale yet). The new collection features three shoe silhouettes, all including the late artist's iconic imagery as embroidered designs.

The standout style of the collection is the Rivalry hi-top; with bright blue and orange stripes and piping along the edges, Haring's stars and cartoon bodies, in black thread, pop right off. If you're looking for something less over-the-top, the quirky white Nizza Hi RF sneakers show a snake wrapping around the back of the shoe and chasing one of Haring's cartoon bodies toward the toe. There's also a minimal embroidered design on the toe of a classic Stan Smith pair. Look a little more closely at the tongue though, and you'll notice the traditional image has been swapped with a caricature of Haring himself.

Peep the three silhouettes, below, and set your calendar for the official drop at the end of the month.

Adidas, Rivalry Hi Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Nizza Hi RF Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Stan Smith Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hopefully this one will be typo-free

In an Instagram Live on Thursday, Taylor Swift announced that she would be creating a collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney inspired by her upcoming Lover album. Although she kept it vague, we can only assume that the two are working on a collection of luxe merch.

Swift noted in the announcement that she has been friends with McCartney "for a really long time," and that the designer already heard the new album. "I respect what she creates, how she creates it," Swift continued. "There's so much whimsy and imagination and romance to the clothing that she designs." Swift has been wearing McCartney's designs "a lot recently," so maybe we should have seen the collab coming.

One eagle-eyed fan pointed out that Swift wore Stella McCartney rainbow-hued shoes during her Wango Tango set. If the collab is anything like these shoes, you can bet I'll be copping it as quick as I can.

Swift detailed in her Instagram Live that the album Lover would be all about romance, which makes McCartney and her feminine designs perfect for the collaboration. We just hope that this collection doesn't have any typos, like some of Swift's "ME!" merch did.

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Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And spreads the message that "we all got crowns"

Late on Thursday, Taylor Swift dropped a new single, "You Need To Calm Down," and announced her forthcoming studio album, Lover, out this August. Following her lead single "ME!" Swift continues to spread her message of self-love and call out haters—particularly the homophobic ones—in this latest song.

Swift "ended homophobic locals," as one fan put it on Twitter, with one particular lyric: "'Cause shade never made anybody less gay."

Along with the song, Swift shared a lyric video via YouTube which made her sentiments even clearer. With her lyric, "Why are you made?/ When you could be glad?" she spelled "glad" as "GLAAD," referencing the queer media advocacy organization.

Swift sings of homophobic protestors in the second verse: "Sunshine on the street at the parade/ But you would rather be in the dark ages/ Makin' that sign must've taken all night." In the pre-chorus, she adds, "You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/ And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate."

Swift additionally comments on women being pitted against each other—"We see you over there on the internet comparing all the girls who are killin' it"—asserting that "we all got crowns." There's nothing trolls can do to rain on her parade anymore.

One fan pointed out the possible symbolism of the crown lyric. In "Call It What You Want," track 14 on Reputation, she sings "They took the crown but it's alright." Now on "You Need To Calm Down," track 14 of Lover, she sings that there's not just one crown—we all have them.

Some fans are pointing to the double meaning of the track title. If I had a dollar for every time someone said those words to me in a totally condescending way, I'd probably be richer than her! What woman hasn't been told to calm down about an entirely not-calm situation or while expressing their distaste?

During Swift's live stream for the release of the song, she also announced a fashion collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, a peek of which we got during the singer's WangoTango performance.

Lover is set for August 23 release.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

"I was like, 'Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what?'"

The day I meet Jim Jarmusch, the sun hangs so bright and hot and yellow and solid in the sky that it's hard to believe that it will actually set at night. It's one of those New York June days that suggests we might be in permanent daylight; it's got a completely different feeling than the crepuscular atmosphere of Jarmusch's latest film, The Dead Don't Die, which takes place in a small town in what feels like one long twilight, maybe the last one.

But for today, Jarmusch and I are sitting at a table in a sun-filled restaurant, though we're in the shade. We're in a part of the city that used to be very punk rock, and is now very NYU, yet being there with Jarmusch, who looks so at home, like he's holding court in the booth (it helps that Larry Fessenden, an old friend of Jarmusch's and a writer/director/producer/actor, who appears in The Dead Don't Die, happens by the table to say hi), makes the area feel a little punk rock again, even with all the sun.

The Dead Don't Die is a very punk rock zombie movie, by which I mean: It's not very scary, but it is very cool, and even when it's sneering, it's a little bit tender. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Chloë Sevigny as a trio of small-town cops who fight back against a nascent zombie apocalypse caused by fracking, the film is cast with a who's who of Jarmusch regulars, like Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, and Fessenden, to name a few; but it also features younger stars like Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, and Luka Sabbat—and there's a real earworm of a theme song, courtesy of Sturgill Simpson.

Below, I speak with Jarmusch about the movie, being a dilettante, and why he only reads his negative reviews—which is definitely one of the most punk rock things I've ever heard.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images

This was filmed on a pretty condensed shooting schedule, right?
It was a very rough schedule. A very difficult one, actually.

We only had seven weeks to shoot, and we had to shoot Adam Driver out in three weeks because he had to be delivered to Star Wars, and the financing of the film was incredibly grueling and took a long time, so we were pushed so far that we had about one month of prep, and then three weeks with Adam. And then all these different actors coming in and out; I don't know how Carter and Josh, the two producers, organized it all. And then we'd shoot 15-hour days, and halfway through, I had walking pneumonia; I had two coats; it was 95 out; I was shaking. You know, just weird stuff like that. But it's all okay because we had such great people—our crew—everybody. And then, the visual effects were very taxing and complicated.

How did that all work together? Because there's more than one decapitated head.
Yeah, it's a mixture. First of all, we mixed prosthetics with makeup with masks for some of the zombie stuff, but all of those effects with the decapitations, we had to just imagine. So we had to choreograph everything and then only imagine kind of what it would be like, which was, for me, very abstract because I'm not very versed in visual effects. You know, you had to really kind of trust your instincts, because Adam Driver's chopping away with a machete with no blade.

It could've been a machete, it could've been a lightsaber, who knows? So, to what degree is this a sequel of Paterson with Adam Driver's character's last name being Peterson?
Well, I just do these things to amuse myself while writing, you know? Bill Murray in Broken Flowers was named Don Johnson, and in this, I gave him the name Cliff Robertson. Tilda Swinton's character is Zelda Winston. Rosie Perez is named Posie Juarez. You know, I'm just kind of amusing myself.

And Peterson, Paterson. While we were filming Paterson I was always teasing Adam that the next one, we would make was gonna be a sequel about a psychopathic murderous bus driver named Peterson. Tag line: "Get the fuck off my bus!" Or "Next Stop Hell!" You know, stuff like that. It's just to make them... I love trying to make Adam Driver laugh, because he has a very odd and wonderful sense of humor, but it's on the dry side, so I'm always joking around with him between work to try and see what makes him laugh.

But yeah, there's no sequel of any kind, and I don't think that way, and I don't plan, and I don't see my films from the past ever again. I just look toward the next thing.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

What was the original concept for this? When did you start coalescing all of these different elements into knowing that you wanted it to be your next film?
Some years ago after Only Lovers Left Alive, Tilda kept teasing me, calling me, saying, "When do we do the zombies? When are we doing the zombies?" And in between I made Paterson and Gimme Danger, but then after those I started writing the zombie one, and my original conception was: I wanna make a film that's really funny and silly like Coffee and Cigarettes, where people talk about whatever nonsense I want them to, and I want to get actors I love, you know? So I thought, okay, if I make a zombie film, I can have a structure where different groups are cordoned off against the zombies, and the zombie attacks will be intermittent and not very long, so I'll have long lags where they're just stuck there, like in the house of The Night of the Living Dead, where they can talk about any kind of nonsense. So that was my first idea, and then when I started writing it, for some reason, I wanted to have a small town, Centerville, and I just followed my intuition, and it became this, I don't really know why beyond that.

What is it about small towns that make them the perfect setting for existential terror?
They're insular. They're kind of… everyone kind of knows each other. It's controllable by the characters. It's believable that everyone kind of know each other. I don't know. I'm not very good at analyzing that. And also, this is not a horror film because horror films use devices that are necessary to frighten people, like suspense, and then you get scared. We have no interest whatsoever in that. This is more of a metaphorical zombie film, but I would not call it a horror movie. It's a comedy with zombies with a kind of sad ending. Beyond that, I don't know what it is.

And horror nerds may not like it if they're expecting creepy, creepy, scary thing! They're not gonna get it. They're not gonna get that delivered to them.

What's interesting about it is seeing who fights back against this existential dread. Or, like, Chloë Sevigny's character, Mindy, doesn't fight, she is on her own separate trip, avoiding the end till she embraces it.
It's a character film. It's not even a plot film, really, although critics say that about all my films. But Chloë… it's a complicated thing, because when I first called Chloë, I told her... I wrote her a letter, and then she said, "Yeah, yeah I'd like to do this." And I said, obviously, this is not a feminist character. She's reactive. She's our sort of "Scream Queen." She screams like six times. But Chloë is the master of reaction, and I love watching her react.

She definitely feels like a stand-in for what a normal person would feel during these absurdist experiences, which is nice to have. It's not necessarily that you need a relatable character in a movie like this, but...
Yeah, but she's an empathetic human that's in a job with some authority, but in a small town where that means taking care of whatever, you know, as a police officer, pretty minimal [stuff]. There's not a lot of rampant crime or anything going on… or anything at all, really.

Credit : Frederick Elmes / Focus Features

A lot of people are going to be projecting tons of different meanings onto this film, like with all your films. To what level do you participate in that or pay attention to that? Or, once you're done making a film, is it just out there, and you just let people project onto it whatever they will?
I've always felt that anyone's interpretation of a film that I write and direct is probably more valid than my own. Because it's a funny thing, the beauty of films is going into a world—or a book or whatever—but going into a world that you don't know, and you are entering a world, and it takes you. And if you wrote it, and you were there filming it, and you're in the editing room every day for six months, the mix, and all that... I can never possibly see it. I like hearing what friends or people I know... I like Q and As after screenings because they have no agenda except their interest. I like that a lot, and I value that. I don't really like to read a lot of reviews unless they're really negative. I love the negative ones.

You do?
Yeah, because they must be very far from me in their perception of the world, and that is interesting to me. But I try not to read a lot...

I think you're probably the first person who I've ever spoken to who says they like to read the negative reviews.
I really like them. The worst one I ever got in my life, I laminated and used to carry in my wallet. It was a brief thing from a right-wing French [paper], maybe Le Figaro or something, of a film called Dead Man that we made, and they said—this is the English translation—"The French intelligence celebrates Jarmusch in the way death and blind parents would celebrate their retarded child. Jarmusch is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he was crucified. We can only hope the same for his film career." I was like, Whoa! That is harsh! I'm keeping that one!

It gets personal.
But that was vicious. I was like, Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what? What happened? It was really... the knife was sharpened, you know.

That speaks to a very specific kind of agenda for sure.
A friend of mine Amos Poe, he's sort of a mentor of mine, a punk filmmaker, whatever, and when we were young when he made, in the late-'70s, one of his films—The Foreigner or Unmade Beds—the New York Times called it "the cinematic equivalent of kindergarten scribbling," and he put that on his posters and put "New York Times" and we were like punks, we were like, "Yes! Amos! That's great!"

I mean, it genuinely is a pretty great pull quote, and I think also a little bit oblivious to the charms of a kindergartener's scribbles and what the value is in that anyway.
Yeah, it was kind of accurate in a positive way, and they intended it as very negative.

In this film, there are so many actors who are veteran actors, but there are also a lot of younger actors. What do you like about the combination of that dynamic?
I just like the variety of sort of world perceptions—indicated in a very minor way when Bill Murray's character says, "I've known Hermit Bob since we were in junior high," and Adam's character says, "Oh, wow! That must've been like 50 years ago!" And Bill says, "Yeah. It was." But just the kind of difference of perception of age I find as I get older really interesting. And I'm very interested in young people, especially teenagers, because I think they form our sense of style, of music, of so many things, and yet they're kind of pushed around and treated badly and constantly told, "You don't know how the world really works! You're just a teenager!" But they gave us poetry. They gave us Mary Shelley and Rimbaud and chess masters, and all the great music comes a lot from teenagers. So I tried to keep a pulse, that's why the three teenagers, I would not let them turn into zombies. There are only four people [who don't get turned by zombies]: those three that are delinquents, and the Tom Waits character, who's already removed himself from the social order long before.

When the zombies become zombies, they all have one inciting thing that they're still pursuing in the real world. Do you have one thing that you think you would pursue if you were a zombie?
You know, it's hard because I'm a self-proclaimed dilettante. I'm interested in so many things, I don't know if I would be breaking into a bookstore, or if I would be in the alley outside of a movie theater, or if I would be trying to get into a guitar shop. I'm not sure. I have a lot of interests.

I mean there's a way in which it's a really tender portrayal of the human impulse to just seek out these things that they love.
It's not totally a critique; it's their vestigial memory of some things that they were drawn toward, whether it was power tools or oxycontin.

The Dead Don't Die is in theaters now.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features