Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong Interview SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD; Plus Info on THE THING Prequel, DIE HARD 5, and the Alternate Ending

     August 7, 2010

Without Ramona Flowers and Knives Chau, there would be no Scott Pilgrim. The two main ladies in Scott’s life, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong respectively, are Scott’s raison d’etre in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Ramona is the spunky newcomer with whom Scott becomes so infatuated, he’s willing to fight her seven evil exes. Knives is a cute, innocent high schooler that Scott is dating at the beginning of the film and eventually helps him discover who he really is.

Wong and Winstead sat down to talk about their characters, working with Edgar Wright, Die Hard 5, The Thing prequel, the alternate ending and much more. You know you want to hit the jump to read all about it.

The first question posed to both Winstead and Wong was if they now see themselves in the pages of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comics. Wong said she didn’t, “I see Knives as Knives,” but Winstead said that “After 4 or 5 months of doing it every day, I did sort of see myself in the books.” Now though, having been separated from it for a while, she just sees Ramona.

Winstead said her favorite Ramona hair color is blue and that she loved the character because most girls understand the desire to change constantly but aren’t impulsive or brave enough to do it, like Ramona. She was also a little disappointed she didn’t get to participate more in the big final battle.

Speaking of their inspiration from the character, both stressed the comic book as the main source. For Winstead, mostly used what O’Malley told her about Ramona that’s not in the books to help delve a little deeper and “bring a little humanity” to her cold exterior. Wong suggested that Knives was way easier to lock onto because this was “her first time going though all of this so can’t put too many layers behind it,” she said. “Those feelings are real, they’re raw, they’re untainted. That’s key to Knives.”

Neither is much of a gamer anymore but both played them in the past and watching the film gave each a strong sense of nostalgia. Their comic book experience is mostly the same. Neither had heard of Scott Pilgrim or been big comic book readers when they got the film but each has since adopted the medium in their own way. For Winstead, she said that reading Pilgrim made her want to delve into more comics but “Admittedly it’s kind of an intimidating world because there’s so much. you don’t know where to start.” Wong has since started reading a bunch of manga and other things but thinks Scott Pilgrim is the perfect jumping off point for any new comic book readers. “I think this kind of a comic book, it’s almost it’s own genre. It has a little bit of everything,” she said. “It’s manga inspired but it’s got this cool down to earth, grounded story that you can relate to, set in this fantastical world, so I think it was the best kind of comic to start off with.”

Like all of us, both Wong – and especially Winstead – were huge Edgar Wright fans before they worked with him. Winstead said she has watched every single Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz commentary, special feature, etc. on the DVD’s and that when she found out her agent had set up a meeting for them she flipped out. “Oh my God! My agent somehow got me a meeting with Edgar Wright! How did he do that?,” she exclaimed. She said she thinks he’s brilliant and is obviously going to get better but can’t imagine how. That’s where Wong chimed in and said that to get better, he’ll just have to “pull something out of the air like he did with Scott Pilgrim.

I then asked what it was about Scott’s character that each of them felt attracted their characters at the beginning of the movie. Because, let’s face it, if you’ve read the comics or not, Scott is kind of an ass at the beginning. Winstead said that she doesn’t think Ramona is instantly smitten but he represents something new and different and simple in her life. Wong said “she wants to be on this journey and she’s at that point in her life where she’s ready for that change and Scott is the one taking her down that road and she falls in love with that.”

Having done a Die Hard film, Final Destination and even a superhero movie with Sky High, Winstead was asked how Scott Pilgrim compared in terms of scale. She said, personally, it way beyond anything she’d ever done. “I never had to do any training for any of the other films.” However, she said because of those films, she was one of the few people on set not blow away but the scope of the production. Wong, on the other hand, because this was her first feature, had to be told time and time again that this was NOT like all other movies.

Someone then asked if Winstead would be interested in taking over the Die Hard franchise, which is sort of suggested at the end of Live Free Die Hard. She said she would obviously love it and feels like there should be more realistic female heroins and those are roles she’s interested in. As for the possibility of a fifth movie, she knows as much as we do. “There have been rumors but I’ve only just read them on the Internet with everyone else,” she said.

Winstead then spoke at length about The Thing prequel. She wrapped filming about 2-3 weeks ago in Toronto and had a great experience. “I’m really excited for people to see it,” she said. “I think fans of the John Carpenter version are going to be pleasantly surprised. We worked really hard on making as great of a movie as we could possibly make on every level.”

According to Winstead, the film is a “true prequel.” “It takes place at the Norwegian base where in the John Carpenter version, the characters find The Thing and bring it back to their base. So it’s the story of what happened there. So it’s a completely different set of characters but in that same universe. The end kind of matches up perfectly with the John Carpenter version so you can watch them both back to back and it’ll be cool.”

Back to Scott Pilgrim, it was brought up that because Knives and Ramona are such vital characters, obviously a lot of details had to be changed from the books. Neither felt like those changes were a big deal because the core of the characters was still there. “I didn’t feel like there was that much that was lost when it comes to the whole story of everyone and the arc that everyone has to go through and the journeys that everyone sort of has to fulfill throughout the film,” Winstead said.

Sneaking in a final question, I asked them about the original ending of the film.

(If you haven’t read the comics or seen the movie, come back on August 13. MAJOR SPOILERS COMING)

In the original ending of the movie, which was written before the final book of the series came out, Scott ends up with Knives. (According to another Wright Q&A, this will be on the DVD.) However, in both the comics and the final film, he ends up with Ramona. I asked how each of them felt about the change. Their answers were really revealing, so I’ll hand it over to Ellen Wong and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Wong: Edgar called me at home and was like, ‘I’m really scared to be calling you right now, And I was like, ‘What? Edgar Wright is scared to call me?’ It felt so weird to hear that coming from him. And he’s like, ‘I want to ask you if its okay,’ ‘What do you think about this?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, I think it’s awesome.’ And it’s funny, he even mentioned this, is that throughout shooting there were moments where I was like, ‘I don’t know, man, I don’t know if Knives would kiss Scott here, he just cheated on her. Why would she do that?’ I think the way that we have it right now is just so perfect and it’s exactly the way we want to show it to the world, is that she grows. And even though she doesn’t win that initial attention she put out for herself at the beginning, she’s still a winner at the end because she is stronger now and more resourceful and she’s learned to be forgiving and be selfless. And at the end, you don’t really know, it’s not clear if she is still in love with Scott or not. She does love him, because he’s such a huge part of her life, but what’s more important is that she is able to say, ‘I’m letting you go’ and I think that’s whats important to note.

Winstead: “For me, when I initially read the new ending I was really excited, I thought it was great and I agreed about Knives’ arc, that it was a really interesting way for her to sort of wrap things up and sort of make her a bit stronger. My only fear was, ‘What if I knew this was going to be the ending? What if I would have played things differently earlier in the film? But then I thought, ‘It’s actually kind of great’ because when I walk away at the end I don’t expect him to turn around and follow me. And that’s sort of the surprise is that Ramona sort of thinks, ‘Okay, I should leave him be and shouldn’t cause any more chaos in his life and I should just move on and escape again.’ And he sort of surprises her at the end and they sort of start over, having known a lot more about each other and kind of on this new level and a more equal playing field and it’s like, ‘Okay. Now they can go off and try this again in a new and better way.”

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hits theaters August 13. Don’t forget to check out our other Collider roundtable roundups with director Edgar Wright, Mark Webber/Alison Pill, Brandon Routh/Satya Bhabha and Kieran Culkin/Aubrey Plaza.

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