Alex Garland Reveals What Brought Him Back for 28 Years Later

“I had a specific idea that felt like a story worth telling.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Inverse Interview

When Alex Garland wrote the script for 28 Days Later, he was simply an accomplished novelist making his first major crossover into Hollywood. But over two decades later, he returns to the franchise a lauded director with modern sci-fi classics like Ex Machina and Annihilation under his belt. However, with the Civil War filmmaker pondering a break from directing “for the foreseeable future,” it was the chance to get back to just screenwriting that drew him to the zombie franchise.

“I wanted to write for other directors,” Garland tells Inverse. “I'd worked with Danny Boyle a few times and I thought we worked well together. I was really interested in the idea of working with Danny again.”

Alex Garland and Danny Boyle are teaming up once again for 28 Years Later.

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The combination of Garland’s thought-provoking script and Boyle’s grimy direction turned 28 Days Later into a bonafide sensation. The 2002 post-apocalyptic thriller rewrote the language of the zombie movie, introducing the idea of the fast zombie with the concept of the “rage” virus and articulating growing fears about a biochemical apocalypse. It also birthed a franchise that included the less-successful sequel 28 Weeks Later, which Garland was not involved with. But Garland and Boyle’s 28 Years Later is set to tell “a different story in a different world,” kicking off what will reportedly be a new trilogy.

“Probably the single most important thing is I had an idea.”

Garland hasn’t shared details of what that different story will be, nor if the new film will ignore the events of 28 Weeks Later. But he tells Inverse that once he came up with a strong idea for the sequel, he couldn’t walk away from the project.

“Probably the single most important thing is I had an idea. I had a specific idea that felt like a story worth telling,” Garland says, adding that “the amount of time” that had passed since the first film strengthened his resolve to return.

It is not yet confirmed that Cillian Murphy will reprise his role from 28 Days Later.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Of course, in addition to charting the rise of Garland’s impressive career as a director, the decades since the release of 28 Days Later also saw the world go through a real-life pandemic. There’s every chance that Garland could draw from reality for 28 Years Later, much as his upcoming war epic Civil War is inspired by real-life extremism.

For now, Garland remains mum on the sequel’s plot details, only recently teasing that he “ripped off” the Ken Loach working-class drama Kes for 28 Years Later. At the very least, Garland seems confident that his idea is strong enough to carry us through a whole new zombie trilogy.

Civil War opens in theaters April 12.

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