Screenwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have decided to share a little background about the making of the Woody Harrelson movie in a series of Twitter posts to entertain fans in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, and they began by revealing "Dirty Dancing" icon Swayze had been their original pick for a guest appearance, which eventually went to Bill Murray.
"Since we're all currently living in #zombieland, @rhettreese & I thought it'd be fun to take you behind the curtain, back to the early days," Wernick wrote.
"The role Bill Murray played started in the original draft as Patrick Swayze. Patrick tragically got sick and we never had the opp (opportunity) to offer him the part. But we did WRITE IT."
The duo also created alternative scenarios for other early dream cameos, including Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Matthew McConaughey, and Joe Pesci, revealing they were each ditched for various reasons, with "Footloose" star Bacon later claiming the script never even made it to his desk.
"He (Bacon) reached out to us after the film (was) released, confessing (to) be a closet Zombie guy, that he loved the movie, said he had never even been sent the pages we wrote for him," Wernick tweeted.
"See, we were nobodies back then. Zombies weren't cool. Walking Dead was just a comic book. Our best guess is we were getting flat no's from agents based on the title page alone. Kevin subsequently treated @rhettreese & me to breakfast... Been looking to cast him in something ever since (sic)."
Producer Gavin Polone then called on the pair to reach out to Mark Hamill - but the "Star Wars" icon rejected the cameo offer too: "Our fearless leader @gavinpolone called: 'Fire up the @hamillhimself draft.' We would not be deterred... So we used the force. And got a forceful f**k no (sic)."
After receiving so much pushback, the writers almost gave up hope of landing a big name for the zombie surprise, until Murray's name was suggested - and the rest is history.
"#BillMurray hadn't yet been mentioned, for we would have never in our wildest imagination thought we could get him," Wernick explained.
Murray later returned for the 2019 sequel, "Zombieland: Double Tap", appearing once more in a brief flashback scene.