Mireille Enos was drawn to the family at the center of 'World War Z'

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  Sept. 16, 2013 at 9:46 PM
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NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. actress Mireille Enos says she was eager to star in the zombie-apocalypse movie "World War Z" because it is an intelligent action flick that never loses sight of the humans at the center of its story.

Directed by Marc Forster and co-starring Brad Pitt, the film is the harrowing tale of Gerry Lane, a former investigator for the United Nations who tries to get his wife and two young daughters to safety, while people all over the world are transforming into man-eating monsters. After his family is out of harm's way -- at least temporarily -- he heads out to unravel what caused the global catastrophe and find a solution to ending it.

"I love action movies," Enos told United Press International in a recent phone interview.

"It's one of my favorite genres to go and see in the theater, but what was different about this one ... I was so struck by how grounded the human element was and the family at the center of it, how you were rooting for them," the 37-year-old Missouri native explained. "It also works on several different levels. It was a commentary about real crises we deal with, and how we help each other or don't help each other. And then when you have a director like Marc Forster at the helm, I knew he was going to try to tell a really intelligent story and that's always exciting."

Enos' level-headed and compassionate character Karin is essentially the heart of the film as she is the one who protects and comforts the younger members of her family when Gerry must leave them on a military ship, so he can attempt to save what is left of humanity.

Asked if she and Forster discussed how Karin would be the character most moviegoers connect to in this terrifying world, Enos replied, "I think everyone was conscious of that.

"I think that's why I was cast in the part," she reflected. "What's interesting to me when I take a part is trying to bring that heart into it. Because everybody was focused on that -- making the family be the heart -- that's why this particular group of people came together. Me and Brad and those kids, who were so smart and warm. It's something we talked about a lot. Brad referred to me throughout the shoot as 'Mama Bear.' He would say, 'We need more Mama Bear in here!' Or, 'I think Mama Bear should pick up the baby.' To keep that family grounded."

The zombies in this film aren't the typical, lumbering living-dead creatures seen on the screen; they are lightning fast and unbelievably strong, making them all the more unnerving to watch.

"We were definitely moving," Enos laughed, when questioned about how physically demanding the movie was for its actors. "We spent a whole week [being chased by zombies] in that stairwell. A week of running up and down those stairs, lugging flares and carrying babies. They were long, hard days, but they were fun, too."

So, did this kind of survival tale make her consider what she would do if she and her family were ever in grave danger in real life?

"Absolutely!" exclaimed Enos, who is married to actor Alan Ruck. "I have a little daughter who is about to turn 3 and at the time we shot this she was tiny, about 10 months old. But you can't help -- when you're telling a story like this -- kind of playing out the scenario in your own mind. Brad says several times [in the movie], 'Movement is life.' And I actually think that's really true. You've got to just grab your loved ones and keep moving."

Best known for her work on the TV dramas "Big Love" and "The Killing," Enos' film credits include "Someone Like You," "Gangster Squad" and the upcoming "Devil's Knot."

"World War Z" is set for DVD and Blu-ray release Tuesday.

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