Zack Snyder is having a bit of a moment. His cut of "Justice League" actually got released to HBO Max after a growing number of voices called for it, and for the most part, it delivered a better product than the much-maligned version that hit theaters in 2017. However, Snyder’s next project is a return to his undead roots.
The director’s feature film debut was the surprisingly good remake of "Dawn of the Dead," and Snyder is headed back to the zombie genre with "Army of the Dead." Despite initial speculation, "Army of the Dead" is not a sequel. It’s an original heist film (with zombies!) about a team hired to steal millions of dollars from a vault beneath a Las Vegas casino. It boasts a pretty impressive cast, and the trailers indicate it features a blend of horror and comedy to draw in a wide base.
Who are we kidding? You had us at "heist film with zombies."
"Army of the Dead" will land in select theaters on May 14 and Netflix on May 21. And if you want to learn more about its incredible cast, here’s where you’ve seen all these talented actors before.
Dave Bautista went from WWE to Marvel to killing zombies
Dave Bautista seems to be following in Dwayne Johnson’s footsteps, as the former WWE star has shown talent in both action and comedy roles. Bautista has rapidly become quite the in-demand commodity, and he appears to be the central star in "Army of the Dead", where he plays Scott Ward, the leader of the heist group.
Bautista is probably most recognizable as Drax the Destroyer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he will reprise the role in the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." He’s also stated his intentions to cross over to DC and play Batman villain Bane, provided the character ever makes a return. Some of his other major starring roles also blend action and comedy, such as "My Spy" and "Stuber." You may also have caught Bautista in an emotional supporting role in "Blade Runner 2049," and he’s part of another big budget sci-fi flick — 2021’s "Dune," where he plays Glossu Rabban.
Like many former WWE stars, Bautista also occasionally returns to the ring for big ticket events like Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble, although he recently claimed to be retired from the world of wrestling.
Ella Purnell has been keeping pretty busy in Hollywood
Even though she was born in 1996, Ella Purnell has already been in Hollywood for over a decade. Her first credited role came in 2010, where she played young Ruth in "Never Let Me Go," and she’s gradually been building her portfolio ever since. In "Army of the Dead," she’s playing the role of Kate Ward, the estranged daughter of Bautista’s lead character.
Some of Purnell’s early work came in big-budget blockbusters. She played the teenage version of Angelina Jolie’s title character in "Maleficent," and she also popped up as Dolce in "Kick-Ass 2." Purnell was also part of the supporting ensemble as Emma in "Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children," and she played a substantial role in "Churchill" as Helen Garrett, secretary to the iconic prime minister.
Purnell’s star continues to shine, as she recently wrapped a starring role on the television series "Sweetbitter," and she plays a central role on the miniseries "Belgravia" as Lady Maria Grey.
Omari Hardwick has played football and fought the undead
Omari Hardwick’s first plan didn’t involve Hollywood. In fact, he was actually a starting defensive back for the Georgia Bulldogs football team during the 1995 season. Hardwick was teammates with NFL greats like Champ Bailey and Hines Ward and even declared for the draft, but he wasn’t selected. He played during a rough stretch for the Bulldogs, as this was when the Southeastern Conference was still completely dominated by the likes of Florida and Tennessee. Hardwick pivoted to acting after the draft, and he’s part of the central cast of "Army of the Dead," playing Vanderohe, a mercenary packing an intimidating rescue saw.
Hardwick’s acting career has showcased him in a wide variety of roles. He plays the lead on the Starz series "Power," and he’s appeared in other television series like "Pieces of Her," "Saved," and "Dark Blue." Hardwick has also starred in several major films. He played Marcus Williams in "Kick-Ass," Chopshop Jay in "The A-Team," and Mr. _______ in the absolutely wild "Sorry to Bother You." He’s got a lot of range, so it will be interesting to see what route his character takes in "Army of the Dead."
Ana de la Reguera is everywhere you look, including Army of the Dead
One of the biggest stars in "Army of the Dead" is Ana de la Reguera, who plays Cruz, Scott Ward’s old buddy and a fantastic mechanic. She may not be a household name, but de la Roguera is involved in all facets of media. She first started making some waves in Spanish-language telenovelas, and she continues to work in major films and series as a bilingual actress.
Her first major role in a Hollywood production came in 2006’s "Nacho Libre," where she played Sister Encarnación. She had minor roles in a few major films in the following years, including the buddy comedy "Cop Out" and the bizarre sci-fi mashup "Cowboys & Aliens." However, she’s made more of a mark in television. In addition to guest roles and her telenovela work, de la Reguera has appeared in series like "Narcos," "Eastbound & Down," "Power," and "Goliath."
De la Reguera has also branched out a bit into writing and producing. She’s the creator of the Spanish-language Comedy Central series "Ana," in which she also stars. She’s hosted events, acted on stage, and done some serious modeling work. In other words, she’s everywhere.
Matthias Schweighöfer will be an important player in the Army of the Dead universe
German actor Matthias Schweighöfer hasn’t been a part of too many Hollywood productions, but he’s been pretty successful in German-language film and television. He also appears in "Army of the Dead" as Ludwig Dieter, the expert when it comes to cracking those casino safes.
Though most of Schweighöfer’s work is German, there are still a few places you may have caught him on the other side of the Atlantic. He had a small role as another character named Dieter in 2002’s "Feardotcom," and he had a very brief appearance in the Tom Cruise-led "Valkyrie." A few of his German works have also gotten some international attention. He starred in "The Red Baron" and "The Most Beautiful Day," and he played in Amazon’s first German-language original series, "You Are Wanted." He’s also lent his voice to a few different productions. For example, he voices the Fox in the German dub of Netflix’s "The Little Prince."
Schweighöfer is also directing and starring in a prequel to "Army of the Dead," called "Army of Thieves," which will release on Netflix sometime after Zack Snyder’s film.
You’ve definitely seen Theo Rossi on some amazing TV shows
Actor Theo Rossi is one of the more recognizable faces in the "Army of the Dead" cast, where he plays Burt Cummings, a security guard who isn’t exactly the most upstanding or trustworthy guy. Rossi has had large roles on a few different popular television series and guest appearances on dozens of others. Most of his film work to this point has been minor, but he’s shown up in a handful of recognizable movies too.
If Rossi looks familiar, it’s probably from one or two series where he played a big role. His breakout performance came on the FX series "Sons of Anarchy," where he played Juan Carlos Ortiz, aka Juice, in over 80 episodes. His other major television role was of the streaming variety, where he played the villainous Shades Alvarez on Netflix’s "Luke Cage." He’s also had guest spots on series like "Veronica Mars," "Lost," and "Grey’s Anatomy," and he’s appeared in films like "Cloverfield" and "Lowriders."
Beyond his impressive acting, Rossi just seems like a good dude. He supports several different nonprofit organizations, including helping animals through the Humane Society, disaster victims through StatenStrong, and veterans through Boot Campaign.
Keep an eye out for the rising Nora Arnezeder
Paris-born actress Nora Arnezeder plays Lily, also known as the Coyote, in "Army of the Dead," part of the mercenary crew involved with the heist. Arnezeder only has a couple dozen roles to her credit at this point in her career, but there are a few different films you may have caught her in.
Her first big role came in the French-language "Faubourg 36" (known in English at "Paris 36"), though her first major exposure to American audiences probably came in 2012’s "Safe House," where she played the girlfriend of Ryan Reynolds’ character. That same year, she appeared with in Elijah Wood in the horror remake "Maniac" and starred with the likes of Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and Olivia Wilde in "The Words."
Recently, Arnezeder’s more recognizable work comes from a few TV series. She played Chloe in the first few seasons of "Zoo" and Anna Maria on "Mozart in the Jungle." More recently, she starred on the YouTube Premium series "Origin." She’s also a singer and not in the way that a lot of actors call themselves "singers." As it turns out, she’s actually got a ton of talent.
Hiroyuki Sanada is a big deal in both Japan and Hollywood
Veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada has seamlessly transitioned between Japanese and American cinema over his impressive career. His first credit came in 1965 at just five years old! Judging from what we’ve seen of "Army of the Dead," his character, Bly Tanaka, looks to play a major part in the events that occur. After all, he’s the casino boss who decides to take advantage of the zombie mayhem and hire Dave Bautista to pull of an undead robbery.
Fans of Japanese films might recognize Sanada from "The Twilight Samurai," considered one of Japan’s best movies of the last few decades. The film won 12 awards from the Japanese Academy, including all the big ones — Best Screenplay, Director, Film, and Actor for Sanada’s role. And horror fans know that he also starred in the original "Ringu." But Sanada doesn’t just appear in major Japanese films. You can catch him in plenty of big Hollywood projects too.
Sanada has made appearances in films like "Speed Racer," "The Wolverine," and "The Last Samurai." But he’s also started to show up in major blockbuster projects as of late. For example, he was Musashi in "Westworld," and he had a small but memorable role as the mob boss killed by Hawkeye/Ronin in "Avengers: Endgame." And in 2021, he told us all to get over here when he played Hanzo Hasashi, aka Scorpion, in "Mortal Kombat."
Tig Notaro saved Army of the Dead at the last minute
Actress Tig Notaro is most famous as a stand-up comedian, but she’s had more than her fair share of recognizable roles in film and television. Interestingly, she was actually brought into her role as Marianne Peters — the cigar-smoking helicopter pilot — in "Army of the Dead" after the film had already wrapped. She filmed her scenes after the fact and was digitally inserted into the movie, replacing actor Chris D’Elia after numerous disturbing allegations emerged about him.
Notaro’s work as a stand-up comedian helped her break into the mainstream, and the audio of her incredible set "Live," in which she discusses her cancer diagnosis, is the stuff of stand-up legend. There’s even a Netflix documentary about the set (and how the comedian regularly mines tragedy for material) called "Tig." She’s worked with a number of other comedians on projects like "Inside Amy Schumer," "Lady Dynamite," and "The Jim Gaffigan Show." Plus, she created and starred in the semi-autobiographical "One Mississippi," and more recently, she appeared as Jett Reno on "Star Trek: Discovery."
Fun fact — Tig Notaro’s real name is Mathilde. Tig was a childhood nickname that stuck.
Raúl Castillo is making a name for himself
Raúl Castillo is an actor of stage and screen who appears in "Army of the Dead" as Mikey Guzman, a character who’s being described as a "go-for-broke influencer." Castillo is also a well-regarded playwright alongside his body of acting work. In fact, Castillo has long been involved with several theater companies and has appeared on stage several times, mainly with LAByrinth.
Most of Castillo’s acting roles have been relatively small, though he’s occasionally broken into something a bit bigger. He’s probably most known for the HBO series (and follow-up film) "Looking," where he played Richie Ventura. He’s also had recurring roles on a few Netflix series, playing Nick on "Atypical" and Felix on "Seven Seconds." He’s appeared in guest roles on several other television series, including "Riverdale" and "Gotham," where he showed up as the Flamingo during the "Rise of the Villains" season.
Castillo has seen a bit of film work over his career, but it’s typically been small roles and indie features. Keep a sharp eye during "Knives Out" –- Castillo plays a police officer in the background.
You’ve definitely seen Garret Dillahunt in something
Actor Garret Dillahunt plays Martin in "Army of the Dead," the head of casino security, and he’s had a long career in both film and television. He’s one of those classic "I know that guy!" actors. You’ve almost certainly seen him in something over the last several decades, even if you can’t quite put a finger on where you recognize him from.
Television is where Dillahunt has had the most success, and he’s proven himself extremely versatile. He played Burt Chance on the comedy "Raising Hope," Jody Kimball-Kennedy on "The Mindy Project," Ty Walker on "Justified" and both Jack McCall and Frances Wolcott on "Deadwood." That’s just the tip of the iceberg for his television work too.
On the film side of things, Dillahunt often plays supporting roles in major movies, memorably showing up as a corrupt sheriff in "Winter’s Bone" and Tommy Lee Jones’ young deputy in "No Country for Old Men." Dillahunt was apparently up for the lead role in "No Country" and was called back to audition multiple times. The part eventually went to Josh Brolin.
Michael Cassidy is trading Orange County for Las Vegas
Michael Cassidy is one of those actors who will probably always be known for his first role. He played Zach Stevens, the sometimes-boyfriend to Summer Roberts on "The O.C." Even though he’s appeared in dozens of other roles since, that’s the role that seems to be attached to him. Maybe his appearance as Sergeant Cassidy (yes, his character shares his name) in "Army of the Dead" will help him break free from his TV origins.
Besides "The O.C.," Cassidy has appeared in a number of other television roles. He played Tyler Mitchell on the TBS series "Men at Work," and he’s had recurring roles on series like "The Magicians," "Smallville," and "Privileged."
Speaking of "Smallville," where Cassidy played a cloned brother of Lex Luthor, that wasn’t his only dip into the DC swimming pool. Remember when it was revealed that Zack Snyder killed off Jimmy Olsen in "Batman v. Superman" without even naming him and said that was his way of having "fun with him?" Jimmy Olsen was played by Michael Cassidy!
Samantha Win has been working with Zack Snyder for a long time
Samantha Win got started in Hollywood doing stunt work, but she had her first traditional role in 2013 and has started to appear more as an actress and less in her former occupation. In "Army of the Dead," she plays Chambers, a character described as the "ride-or-die" to Raúl Castillo’s influencer, and it’s seemingly her most high-profile role yet.
Win has worked a lot with Zack Snyder in the past, performing stunts on films like "Sucker Punch" and "Man of Steel." Win also appeared in "Man of Steel" in her debut role as Car-Vex. She would make several more appearances in the DC cinematic universe as Euboea, one of the Amazonians. Considering the success DC has had with "Wonder Woman," it seems likely that Win will make another appearance in the Amazon spinoff that’s headed our way, even though she was killed during the events of "Justice League." She’s also utilized her martial arts talents doing motion capture work for video games like "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" and appearing as Kitana in the web series "Mortal Kombat: Legacy."
Army of the Dead will introduce Huma Qureshi to a whole new audience
"Army of the Dead" has a pretty impressive collection of multinational actors, and Huma Qureshi is one that might not ring a lot of bells to Western audiences. She plays Geeta in the film, a mom who’s gone missing in the zombie-infested danger zone that is Las Vegas, and will definitely appeal to a huge audience. She just isn’t terrible well known in the U.S. … yet.
Qureshi was born in India, and she’s found a ton of success in Hindi-language films. Her first major role drew a lot of attention. Her portrayal of Mohsina in "Gangs of Wasseypur" saw her nominated for several awards, as did her role in "Dedh Ishqiya" a few years later. On the English-language side of things, Qureshi has only had a few notable appearances, such as her role alongside Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson in the historical drama "Viceroy’s House."
Qureshi also starred on a Hindi-language Netflix series entitled "Leila." With the exposure she’ll get from "Army of the Dead," it seems likely we’ll see more of her in future Hollywood projects.