I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright‘s films, and his latest, The World’s End, will probably end up on my annual Top 10 list. It’s not just funny and emotionally satisfying, but the construction is superb, and yet it’s markedly different than his previous films in the “Cornetto Trilogy”, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
I was hoping to talk to him about the film during its theatrical release, but I’m glad we got to discuss last week since The World’s End is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download. During our conversation, we talked about tweaking and altering early ideas for the script (like the construction of the “twin-bot”), making the characters an amalgam of high school acquaintances, and more. Also, knowing I couldn’t get much of an answer, I reluctantly asked him about the Ant-Man casting rumors. To my surprise and Wright’s credit, he did provide a brief answer. Hit the jump to check out the interview. [Warning: This interview contains spoilers for people who haven't seen The World's End]
During our lunch with Simon and Nick last week, Simon mentioned you guys had considered “mega-blanks” where the blank pieces would all form together into something larger like a scorpion, but that had to be cut due to the budget.
WRIGHT: It was partially budget, but it also didn’t make that much sense. I think it would be easily dropped. Originally, the Twin-Bot in the garden had a really cool concept design. I think those things are on the Blu-ray. If you look at the concept gallery, I’m almost certain all those things are in there including the mega-blank thing. But originally, the Twin-Bot, we had a concept where she had four arms kind of like Kali, but my brother pointed out that there were no sockets at the waist to hold two other arms. And I was like, “Yeah” and then were saying, “Well, what if when she falls down, the legs become attached to the arm sockets.” And that works much better, and it’s still using all of the parts.
Was there anything else you wanted to put in the film but had to be jettisoned or reworked due to time or cost?
WRIGHT: Maybe. There was a little bit towards the ending about context and stuff, and as we talked about before, the robot legs, but I don’t think anyone comes out the film saying, “I wish the fights were even longer.” I think the level of action is just right.
WRIGHT: I think the thing is I sometimes don’t like talking about them because it seems like you’re not happy with the movie, and I am happy with the movie.
WRIGHT: Some stuff is just different ideas like a budget constraint comes up and leads to a better solution. So for instance, in the original draft, The World’s End sort of becomes a crater. Like The World’s End created a crater in the Earth, and then the idea became more actually that it was like a series of tunnels like a brewery. It’s sort of where the blanks are coming from.
Would tiny blanks come out of a microbrewery?
WRIGHT: Well you can see actually, if you look in that scene between everybody there are pods; you can see the pods. This is sort of how they’re made. It’s kind of a jelly-mold that they come out of.
Shaun and Hot Fuzz have a kind of symmetrical structure, and while there are a few traces of that in The World’s End, it mostly goes in a different direction. How the did the process of writing this one differ from the first two?
WRIGHT: Not really because we always knew where it was going to end and what we wanted to do in the end. We knew what we were leading to once we prepped the story. And I think you can sort of see in a way that everything in the intro sets you up for the rest of the movie right down to the shooting star.
In all of the films, they do this thing where they kind of repeat. You’re going on this kind of journey—like in Shaun of the Dead, it was very deliberate in that his plan of action is almost exactly the same as his plan of action on a Saturday night. And Gary has a schedule to keep with this thing, doing every single pub, “whether it kills us”. And he quickly turns the situation to his advantage. And he’s happy with the situation because it makes him the captain and suddenly in charge and has a plan so they fall in and keep sticking with him. If it wasn’t for the fight in the bathroom, they would all go home.
WRIGHT: I think it’s that thing that happens a lot, especially in social situations where someone is a force of a nature and you know it’s a bad idea, but they’re powerless in his wake.
When you made this film, did you think back to friends you had from high school, and did any of them try to reach out to you after seeing the movie?
WRIGHT: I think the characters are an amalgam of lots and lots of different people, so I don’t think any one, specific friend of mine. I think it’s something lots of people have in their lives and you find that in the character as well. So it’s not any one, specific person. I don’t think anybody who watched the film that I know came and said, “Hey! You made the film about me!” But I think it’s something where everyone has in their life a friend or a family member who has trouble moving forward, basically.
It’s interesting because that film The Spectacular Now actually, which I didn’t see until afterwards, and me and the director [James Ponsoldt] have sort of become friends over the Internet. And I saw the movie and I e-mailed him to congratulate him. And it felt like I was watching a prequel to The World’s End because Miles Teller’s character could just as easily be young Gary King from The World’s End. And James Ponsoldt said, “You’re not the first person to say that to me.” So we decided to show them as a double-bill even though one is a team drama and one is a sci-fi comedy, the overlap makes it work in that way.
WRIGHT: You know what my answer is going to be! [laughs]
I know what your answer is going to be, but I have to get through it. When will we hear about Ant-Man casting and are the rumored casting choices close to the mark?
WRIGHT: No, none of them are completely way off, but I don’t know where they come from. I think sometimes, occasionally…I don’t know where they come from. I think sometimes it’s actually someone themselves starting the rumors because then…yeah. The rumor becomes kind of fact…I don’t know. Some of them are way off. But the truth is we don’t start filming until the end of May, so people on Twitter need to stop asking me, “When are you going to announce casting?” Like they’re angry! It’s like, “The film comes out in 2015. Chill out.”
I agree. It will be released in due time. But you know I have to ask that question.
WRIGHT: Yeah. I’ll just say that some of them are completely way off.
If I have time to squeeze in one more question, I wanted to ask because of the whole trilogy, when you were writing the supporting cast members for The World’s End, were you writing those characters with actors in mind so you could tie back to them being in Shaun and Hot Fuzz?
WRIGHT: Well, there were a lot of people we wrote with in mind. Certainly with Martin [Freeman], Paddy [Considine], and Eddie [Marsan]. Then one of the things we thought would be really great that everybody who was in the first two is in the third one. And we made a list of all those people and some of them like Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Rafe Spall, Simon, Nick, Julia Deakin, Patricia Franklin, and also the Wilson Twins, Kevin and Nick. I think that’s all of them. Those are the people in all three of them.
With Rafe Spall, there wasn’t really a part because he was too young to be one of the main guys. And I actually saw him at the Prometheus premiere, and he said, “I want to be in it, man,” so I was like, “Let’s do it,” but his part was for only one scene.
I also liked that you brought in the Sightseers stars because you produced that film.
WRIGHT: Well Alice [Lowe] is in Hot Fuzz, so that’s how I got to know Alice, and she showed me her short of Sightseers and that’s kind of how that came about. And in Hot Fuzz she’s the checkout girl assistant.