One of the most surprising hits of 2009 was Zombieland. Among the highlights of the film was Bill Murray's cameo. Writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese had another name in mind originally, the late Patrick Swayze. Unfortunately, the actor fell ill before they offered the part. Before Wernick and Reese settled on Murray, they considered other actors including Kevin Bacon, Mark Hamill, Dwayne Johnson, Sylvester Stallone, and Joe Pesci.
"Zombieland" Patrick Swayze Cameo
The duo wrote the original scene for Swayze before they changed the cameo specifically for Murray. They released the pages of the script online on Twitter. Since the pages reflect an earlier draft of the script, the names of some of the main characters are different. Tallahassee was originally named Albuquerque. Columbus was Flagstaff and Little Rock was Stillwater.
Albuquerque and Flagstaff make their way as original characters in Zombieland: Double Tap played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch, respectively. In the film, the characters are direct reflections of Tallahassee and Columbus played by Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, respectively.
In the Swayze scene, the group goes into a house where they watch Roadhouse on television and listen to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack on the stereo. While exploring, Flagstaff finds a potter's wheel from Ghost. Coming from behind, a zombie version of Swayze appeared.
It wasn't the first cameo conceived by Wernick and Reese. The original scene conceived Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson in a Ghostbusters reunion. The four played fictionalized versions of themselves golfing. Murray springs into action taking out his "friends" as they start turning.
Murray's appearance in Zombieland: Double Tap found him in a similar scenario. The actor was being interviewed by Al Roker for the fictional third live-action Garfield. As those around him start turning, Murray takes various objects fending off zombies as they turn including Roker.