Great interviews with Joseph and the Ford brothers have been shared on the Shock Till You Drop website. Read it in full on that site.
This time it was an old friend from the past that became their star after a fateful chain of events. One of the leading stage actors of his generation, Joseph Millson appeared in CASINO ROYALE and on British TV he’s well known for the ‘Holby City’ soap opera. But back in 1996 when he was just starting out he appeared in the award-winning short film LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI BY JOHN KEATS directed by Jonathan Glendening and crewed by the Fords.
Joe Millson gives further details: “We lost touch as you do on movie sets but then two years ago I was helping a director produce a movie now titled THE REST. But he was originally going to call his project THE DEAD. Hang on a minute, I told him, I’m sure there’s already a movie with that title, and sure enough after checking, I discovered there was. By the Ford Brothers. Hey, didn’t I used to know those guys? I got in touch with them and said, Look you won’t remember me, but can we have your title? Almost instantly a reply came back saying, yes we remember, no you can’t, and what are you up to?”
Howard Ford says, “Joe’s email was a complete surprise, a bolt from the blue. We’d followed his career up to a point and I turned to Jon and said, You know, he’d be quite good as Nicholas Burton. So we grabbed the bull by the horns and asked Joe to come with us to the Cannes Film Festival. We were driving down in our vintage Gran Torino car so we asked him to join us in the passenger seat, our hidden agenda being the fact we were auditioning him en route."
Millson continues, “So there we were driving over the Pyrenees and by this time I’d seen THE DEAD and adored it. I saw it in terms of a picaresque French road movie except with zombies and felt the Fords had invented the art zombie genre almost. Then they started regaling me with all the horror stories about the making of it in West Africa. I was enthralled and told them they should write a book about it. The car screeched to a halt, they opened the boot, and inside was exactly that, Howard’s ‘Surviving The Dead’ memoir. I read it in three hours and when they told me THE DEAD 2: INDIA might be happening I actively begged them to become involved. It’s not that I’m a horror geek or anything, but I did love scare movies when I was a kid."
Some of the action-packed sequences Millson would have to be involved in included a spectacular car crash, riding through the streets on a classic Royal Enfield Bullet motorbike with zombies trying to pull him off, jumping off a roof and paragliding over the slums shooting at the living dead. He remarks, “I thought we wouldn’t be able to film half the script as written. Either because of scope or budget but obviously I hadn’t contemplated the Ford Brothers’ steely resolve or creative imagination. Every day they pulled off the impossible and managed one amazing coup after another. The problems seemed insurmountable at the beginning of each day, then come the end it was, Wow, we actually did it."
The article includes some very kind words about Joseph from the creators.
And through it all was our shining beacon Joe Millson who couldn’t have been more brilliant as our lead actor and friend. He stepped up to the mark for us and we’ll never forget it. He elevated our film and gave us something special. I hope it does something special for him in return because he has real charismatic star quality."