As the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of Max Brooks‘ novel World War Z gears up to shoot, one might marvel at the fact that the film will exist at all. It was on the brink of being scrapped for months, but then came back from the dead with a new financing plan. And just in time for Paramount, since it is looking like there is no way that the Star Trek sequel will hit in time for summer 2012.

Brad Pitt, against all odds, remains set to play the lead role of a UN researcher investigating a zombie outbreak. James Badge Dale was recently cast as Captain Spake, and Mirielle Enos will play the wife of Brad Pitt’s character. Now Matthew Fox and Ed Harris are on board, too.

Deadline reports that the two are in talks, but doesn’t have any significant detail on their roles. Julia Levy-Boeken is cast as well, but it looks like Anthony Mackie will be nowhere to be found when cameras roll, despite some early rumors. He’ll be shooting Gangster Squad instead.

This marks the next stage of Matthew Fox’s career. He was booked solidly on Lost for years, taking only very rare time to do a film like Speed Racer. (Which, oddly, we just had occasion to discuss.) He’ll also be the serial killer in I, Alex Cross, which shoots in August. Ed Harris, meanwhile, has been a strong presence for years and doesn’t seem like he could be damaged by anything. I’ll be quite happy to see him in World War Z, which shoots in London and Scotland soon with a script by J. Michael Straczynski (polished by Matthew Michael Carnahan) and Robert Richardson shooting.

Here’s Publishers Weekly’s synopsis of Brooks’ novel, via Amazon:

Brooks, the author of the determinedly straight-faced parody The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), returns in all seriousness to the zombie theme for his second outing, a future history in the style of Theodore Judson’s Fitzpatrick’s War. Brooks tells the story of the world’s desperate battle against the zombie threat with a series of first-person accounts “as told to the author” by various characters around the world. A Chinese doctor encounters one of the earliest zombie cases at a time when the Chinese government is ruthlessly suppressing any information about the outbreak that will soon spread across the globe. The tale then follows the outbreak via testimony of smugglers, intelligence officials, military personnel and many others who struggle to defeat the zombie menace. Despite its implausible premise and choppy delivery, the novel is surprisingly hard to put down. The subtle, and not so subtle, jabs at various contemporary politicians and policies are an added bonus.

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