Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder’s grand re-entry into the zombie apocalypse. Nearly two decades after his classic Dawn of the Dead, he returns to the disaster genre and adds a heist into the mix. Of course, no grand escapade would be complete without a resident odd couple, and in this case it’s Vanderohe and Dieter.
Omari Hardwick and Matthias Schweighöfer, who play the reluctant friends, spoke to Screen Rant about who their characters were before the apocalypse and how they’re forced to get along during it.
Omari, when the film starts, we get to dive into the lives of some of the characters. What was Vanderohe up to before the zombie apocalypse?
Omari Hardwick: Before the zombie apocalypse, he’s definitely a military cat. Definitely, I would say, a notch higher than a friend to Scott. I would go so far as to say that he was Scott’s brother.
And as you know, prior to his return, he is absolutely a caregiver at an elderly home. A pretty cool man trying to figure out his zen reality. He’s fully into Feng Shui at this point of his life; he’s a minimalist. We didn’t get to see a peek into his actual abode, but if he were to welcome you into his humble abode, it would be just that: humility and concentrating more on the internal faculty as opposed to the external obliteration of folks that he was able to obliterate prior with that chainsaw.
That infamous chainsaw that we see he’s buried; we then go find that with him in his journey. It’s a journey within a journey, I guess, threefold for him. He’s got the journey with Dieter, played by my colleague and friend forever now, Matthias. And then, of course, that journey is within the journey of all of us as castmates and characters within Army of the Dead.
He’s definitely somebody I was humbled to take on. And I felt like Zach was basically stating to me, “I believe that you can vacillate between those worlds, of the complexities that that persist and exist within this guy.” Persist, because throughout the movie, you see him as that guy. His moment to take a deep breath is with the elderly folks, and his moment to double down on taking that deep breath is when he gets next to Dieter. He can actually throw his hair back, but in the middle of this war of sorts, he’s able to equally take that deep breath. And that is all due to the writing of Zack Snyder.
Vanderohe is pretty hard on Dieter in the beginning, but for all the right reasons, because it’s all about survival at this point. How does Dieter view Vanderohe and his team on the mission?
Matthias Schweighöfer: When Dave Bautista as Scott Ward tells you, “Take care of this dude, because he’s very important, because without this guy I’m gonna break your neck. I don’t care if you’re my brother. I don’t care if it’s a nerd, or he’s very a handsome dude. Take care of him,” then, of course, you will do this.
It was such a great experience to have a wonderful and cool and very talented babysitter like Omari Hardwick. Dieter never fit it into the team, but he made a friend.
Omari, I love the odd couple relationship between Dieter and Vanderohe. Can you talk to me about how we see the relationship grow in the film?
Omari Hardwick: Absolutely. We start out with, again, these guys being – not very contentious, that would be dramatic to state. But Matthias is correct in stating that they don’t really get each other.
Dieter is naive, and not to a fault. He’s got a greenness that’s attractive. He’s got a naivete of sorts, and he’s gullible – but perhaps not gullible in the wrong ways. Gullible enough, but street smart equally. He knows that Scott wouldn’t have recruited him if he wasn’t. So, there’s a sweet smart element to him. We don’t see as much grit in the beginning, so if anything – again, overly dramatic if I state it as contentious – in their meeting of the minds, the issue is more so with Vanderohe than Dieter.
And so the evolution is just that: Vanderohe falls into at least an affable place with this guy. He starts to understand him in a way, because they both run into the cul de sac of philosophical thinking. And there is no through street on the other side of that cul de sac. It’s like, here we are in a circle, and we’re talking philosophically – and maybe perhaps subconsciously Vanderohe really tests this guy. And Dieter just goes toe to toe with like, “Yeah, that could be that. Why not? Yeah, yeah.”
There’s the evolution of both feeding each other’s self-esteem, if that makes sense. And then they realize after a while, it goes from affable to “Man, I really like this person.” Which is a very underrated word and emotion: to like someone. A lot of people love people, and they don’t like the same people they love. So, they really fall into like, and that’s a really great thing. They need each other, and so there’s the evolution.
Next: Dave Bautista Interview for Army of the Dead
- Army of the Dead (2021)Release date: May 21, 2021
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