Let's face it. If you were one of the survivors of a zombie apocalypse, you'd probably want actor Ving Rhames to have your back. Especially if he was carrying a sledgehammer. Rhames, who plays Henry, leads a handful survivors through Syfy's Zombie Apocalypse, which premieres Saturday, Oct. 29, at 9 p.m. ET.
However, Rhames admits he probably wouldn't be one of the survivors, if zombies actually did attack.
"No, I don't think I could survive it. So no, I'd be gone," said Rhames. "I think that dealing with something that's stronger than you, that's very difficult to kill, that's already dead ... I just think that percentages are slim that a human being could really beat a zombie. ... And we have a lot of fast ones in [this film], too. ... They're stronger, faster, and they're already dead. So, how do you conquer that? You know, I don't know."
The film follows a small band of people who "survive a catastrophe where zombies have basically taken over the earth. And it's a story that deals with our survival, how we bond as friends. How we work together to survive," said Rhames.
"Civilization has fallen, and the dead rule the land," said the film's co-writer, Brooks Peck. "To make things even worse, during the final spasms of humanity's demise, someone (the U.S.? another country?) set off some nukes in space above the country. The resulting EMPs (electro-magnetic pulses) killed all electronics and sophisticated technology. So there are no working cars or the like."
The technological collapse adds a "Mad Max vibe," said Peck. "There's plenty of gunplay, but our heroes also use a wide variety of weapons against the zombies: bats, swords, sledgehammers, axes and arrows. We also gave a lot of thought to the idea that, like in any ecosystem, zombies are competing with each other for resources (human flesh and brains). So natural selection kicks in, and stronger, faster zombies are going to out-compete the weaker ones. Also smarter ones—but I don't want to give away all of our surprises."
When it comes to Rhames character, Henry, he isn't one of your average survivors. "As my character, Henry, would say, 'a quick sledgehammer blow to the head solves a lot of problems.' I walk around with a sledgehammer in the movie," he said.
"I'm kind of the enforcer/major protector of the group. I'm probably the eldest of the group also, so my character has a lot of wisdom," said Rhames. However, Henry is a bit of a loner. "He loses whatever he had, and he talks about his horse, you see. And so I think now he's more alone on the planet."
In writing Zombie Apocalypse, Peck said, "We brainstormed all the things we'd never seen in a zombie movie, then tried to cram as many as possible into the script. ... Tune in if you want to see a LOT of zombie battle action, up close and personal. The cast is terrific (Ving Rhames! Taryn Manning!), and Nick Lyon is a very talented director."
For Rhames, who also starred in the zombiefests, Day of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead, one of the best things about making the movie was "the bond that the actors developed working with each other. Because even in the film, of course we have to work together to survive. And so we just—we got a nice group of actors who had very good chemistry. So you know, making new friends. It was pretty cool."
What wasn't cool was the shoot, however. According to Rhames, the actors faced 90-degree days with intense physical activity. "I'm already a black belt, so ... the most preparation is really just being in shape. I work out like four to five times a week. So as long as you were in shape, a lot of running, some fight scenes," he said. "My character wields a huge sledgehammer. I lift weights, I run and I box, so things went well."
So far during this career, the muscular actor has managed to battle zombies, sharks and piranhas (Piranha 3D and the upcoming Piranha 3DD). Which scares him the most?
It's not zombies.
"I'd probably have to say piranhas, and I mean Piranhas 2, oddly enough, that'll be coming out. ... They come more from ocean as the unknown. And I think the fact that something small could bite you once and you could kind of say, 'Oh, that's nothing,' and then you're attacked by thousands of them. So piranhas."
Beyond zombies, piranhas or other horrifying creatures, Rhames does battle something significant in real life that's terrifying to most of us. "I do gang intervention work with a group called Developing Options. And we basically just try and stop young adults from killing each other. It's headed by a guy named Big U. That's his street name. But it's Eugene Henley, and they're like based in South Central. And we cut down on the violent crime in South Central by 85 percent in the Crenshaw area."
Now that makes him a true hero in my book ... and he doesn't even need a sledgehammer.
Here's a preview of Zombie Apocalypse:
Are you ready to watch Ving Rhames crush zombie skulls with a sledgehammer?