Jonathan Levine, whose earlier features include cancer drama 50/50 and coming-of-age tale The Wackness, took his cast to Montreal to shoot his latest movie Warm Bodies.

There he asked Cirque du Soleil to train his actors to move like zombies – in this case, the slow lurching kind of zombie who lives in a deserted airport in a post-apocalyptic world.

Based on the young adult book by Isaac Marion, the movie focuses on the perceptions of a slacker-dude zombie called R – he can’t remember his full name.

Played by British actor Nicholas Hoult, it’s a role that provides laughs as it takes a romantic turn.

"I laughed within the first page...but it was just an odd perspective to have a zombie as the lead character, a zombie who isn't happy being a zombie and wants to be alive again," Hoult told CBC News.

Hoult says it isn't easy moving like a zombie, especially one who has lost the power of speech.

"Because I couldn't talk,  the walking we practiced a lot. The running was the most difficult," he said.

Like Levine’s earlier movies, Warm Bodies deals with pre-occupations of young males – loneliness and love. R begins to reclaim his humanity as he falls for a young woman, Julie, played by Australian actress Teresa Palmer.

It’s a pretty untraditional romance, Palmer says, though she questions any comparisons to Twilight, which involves a vampire and a human.

"I think tonally it's very different, Warm Bodies to Twilight. There's a lot of comedy, we don't take ourselves too seriously, but having said that, we of course embrace comparisons in a sense because Twilight is a hugely successful franchise and if we can find half the audience that Twilight has I think we'd be very happy."

Warm Bodies opens Friday.  

With files from the Canadian Press