Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, who plays Brad Pitt’s bodyguard as he battles to stop a zombie apocalypse in next month’s big budget “World War Z,” has been talking about the actor-producer’s on-set focus, about Brad and Angelina’s nice, normal kids, and about the criticism she fears she’ll get for playing a member of Israel’s security forces when she herself avoided the draft.
Kertesz, 24, was plucked from the relative obscurity of parts in Israel TV shows (“Loving Anna,” “Screens”) for the role in the blockbuster film, which is adapted from the bestselling book by Max Brooks, son of comedy king Mel.
Advance word is that Israel, in the movie, is about the only place on earth that takes the zombie threat seriously, and acts fast and early to protect its citizens. In the novel, the government introduces a kind of national quarantine, trains dogs to sniff out infected persons, and announces a state of emergency that allows for all Jews and Palestinians from around the world to seek refuge in the country.
In a sneak preview, eager audiences can feast on footage of what appear to be IDF infantry troops fighting off swarms of ravenous undead alongside Pitt, playing UN worker Gerry Lane.
Kertesz said she relished the filming, which took place in Malta, and said the sets, which featured the Old City and various West Bank checkpoints among other locations, were utterly authentic — “and I grew up in Jerusalem.” She said some of the Hebrew phrases on signposting were a little too literal, though, betraying the use of Google Translate.
Kertesz sports an extremely short hair-do in her role as Pitt’s Israeli bodyguard; “they decided the role was very macho,” she explained in an interview with Israeli TV Channel 10’s “Good evening with Guy Pines.”
Asked whether she had done her mandatory two years in the Israeli army, which might have helped prepare her for the role, she said uncomfortably that she hadn’t, wouldn’t go into details, added that she was braced for criticism, and insisted it was irrelevant to the role. “You don’t expect someone to have a law degree to play a lawyer,” she reasoned.
Kertesz spoke glowingly of Pitt on set, saying first, rather hesitantly, that he was “fine” to work with, but then elaborating. “I felt very pressured at first,” she said, “but the more I worked with him, the more normal it became. He’s very focused… He fought for what he wanted” in the scenes.
Did she come to the film as a Pitt fan, having had his posters on her bedroom walls as a kid? No, she said. “It was the other way round. I became an admirer after I worked with him.”
Pitt’s wife Angelina Jolie visited the set, Kertesz said, and their kids came too. “Normal kids,” who asked their dad things like, “How many zombies did you kill today?”
They’d filmed over Halloween, Kertesz recalled, “and I did trick or treat, for the first time in my life, with Brad and Angelina’s children.”