Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Interviewed – HOT FUZZ

     April 10, 2007

I don’t know what else I can write about Hot Fuzz that you haven’t already heard me say. It’s one of the best films you’re going to see all year and it’ll make you laugh your ass off from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

The film is from the makers of Shaun of the Dead – which if you haven’t seen – should be at the top of your Netflix list immediately. And just like Shaun, it stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and it’s directed by Edgar Wright. But while Shaun took on Zombie’s, Hot Fuzz takes on the American action film.

The interview below is with the stars of the film and they explain the art of cake flushing -which I’m not going to spoil since you’ll read it below. But before the interview I figure some of you might want a synopsis of the film… so here it is from the studio:

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He’s so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel’s superiors send him to a place where his talents won’t be quite so embarrassing — the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford.

Once there, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be a real-life “bad boy,” and his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. Angel is quick to dismiss this as childish fantasy and Danny’s puppy-like enthusiasm only adds to Angel’s growing frustration.

However, as a series of grisly accidents rocks the village, Angel is convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and as the intrigue deepens, Danny’s dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gunfighting, all-out action seem more and more like a reality.

It’s time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice.

Written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz reteams Pegg and Frost alongside a killer cast. In addition to Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, the stellar lineup of talent includes Paddy Considine (In America), Steve Coogan (Night at the Museum), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights), Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), Lucy Punch (The Class), Anne Reid (The Mother), Billie Whitelaw (The Omen), Stuart Wilson (The Mask of Zorro), Edward Woodward (The Equalizer), and plenty of surprises.

During the interview they give updates on a lot of things like what they’re working on next and of course they cover a ton of Hot Fuzz.

I strongly recommend listening to this interview as the boys are quite funny and their humor is better received by hearing them speak. So click here if you’d like to download or just listen to the interview as an MP3. If you’d like to read it the transcription is below.

And if you haven’t seen a trailer yet click here. Hot Fuzz opens April 20th.

You’ve worked together for so long and you’re friends, does that make it- –

SP: It’s a strain.

NF: The cracks are beginning to show to be honest.

Does that make it easier, do you ever discover new things about each other?

NF: Every single day.

Such as?

SP: No, I think is the answer to that. I think we’ve got it all covered. It’s nice because it’s an enduring friendship and it makes working together fun. I mean, he still surprises me. I was very impressed with him, I’m talking about you now, on Hot Fuzz just as he grows as an actor because when I met Nick, he was a waiter and he wasn’t even a waiter trying to be an actor, like everyone here. Not here obviously, I mean in LA. He just wanted to serve food and I said, “Why don’t you come and be an actor with me, you fool?” And he went, “All right.” With that amount of enthusiasm. And now he’s sort of stealing the show so it’s nice. I’m very proud of him.

What’s been the reaction in the UK? You’ve made a dollar or two at the theaters.

SP: Yeah, it’s been enormous. I think it was record breaking. I think it made three times what Shaun of the Dead made theatrically and we outgrossed its entire takings in the first weekend of release in the UK. So yeah, it was really good. We worked really hard on selling it, didn’t we?

NF: We did a lot of- – a very big UK tour, very big for the UK. It’s not a big place, about five cities. Yeah, we really enjoy selling it really.

Are you overselling it, going to Australia?

SP: Do you mean are we over selling it, or are we overselling it?

Overselling it.

NF: I don’t think we can. After we did the Shaun of the Dead tour, I think it really hit home how important doing things like this is. I don’t know what Shaun would have done if we hadn’t done it. And it’s not just – sometimes I phone my girlfriend up and say, “God, we’re tired.” And she politely reminds me that it’s not like working in a factory or something. So but yeah, it is a pleasure to do. I don’t think you can oversell it really. I think when people start throwing eggs at us in the street, that’s when we’ve oversold the film.

Are you fans of Jerry Bruckheimer and have you heard from him about this movie?

SP: No, I think Shane Black’s seen it and he really likes it but we haven’t heard from Bruckheimer or Bay, the big Bs. Fan is a strange word to use in context with those guys. I think I’m an admirer of just the bombast of those films. Having attempted to make an action movie, you realize just how hard it is to pull off. Obviously we were fighting against the fact that we only had an eighth of the budget of Bad Boys II, but you literally can make 8 ½ Hot Fuzzes for one Bad Boys II. That’s a hell of a trade off. And actually eight Hot Fuzzes are almost as long as Bad Boys II as well. But just the kind of wherewithal and sort of gumption it takes to pull off an action film is quite impressive. So dismissing those movies isn’t so easy now.

Nick was method for Shaun, shaving your pubes to make sure you itched. Did you do anything method like that for Hot Fuzz?

NF: Yeah, I actually joined the Dutch police force for four years.

SP: They’re the only ones that would have him.

NF: They are the only ones that will have me. The uniforms fit. No, not really. I watched Bad Boys II.

SP: To me, the shaving the pubes thing was always just an excuse to actually do that. You’d pawned it off as some sort of method thing but really you just wanted a shorn scrotum.

Why Bad Boys II and not one?

NF: Is there a one? It’s kind of eclipsed.

SP: Because it is an odd thing. Bad Boys II wasn’t necessary – – I think they kind of knew that it wasn’t an entirely requested sequel really. It was sort of like everyone went, “Oh yeah, there was Bad Boys.” But I think in order to kind of counter that, they just made the most sort of impudent, excessive movie possible. And as a result, now it exists solely without the need of its predecessor. It’s like Bad Boys II. Forget Bad Boys I. It kind of makes it obsolete.

How about Hot Fuzz II?

SP: I don’t know, I think it would be silly to do. I think you could have- – it’s an easier sequel to do than Shaun of the Dead because it’s just Danny and Angel getting into another adventure, but it’s like Hot Fuzz is like an origin story. It’s how they become Hot Fuzz and I think once you have them just being Hot Fuzz, it’ll be less fun. It would just be two hours of the last half hour of Hot Fuzz. Tiring.

Are you sad Extras is over and you don’t have a chance to spoof yourself?

SP: The series Extras? I’m not a fan.

NF: Don’t get him started.

Is the title Hot Fuzz a takeoff on the Killers’ Hot Bus?

SP: No, we came before that although it was a simultaneous sort of moment. We were in New York and I walked into a record shop and there it was and I thought, “Oh shit, someone’s made an album with a very similar title to our film.” But we saw the Killers recently at a thing. We didn’t sort of talk about it either, did we? We just sort of said hello to them.

NF: Yeah, we were giving them an award so didn’t really have time to chat in between their acceptance speech and being on camera.

What was behind the title then?

SP: We just wanted to make a title that really had very little meaning. And also to appeal to the sort of two word titles of the ’80s and ’90s action flicks like Lethal Weapon and Point Break and Executive Decision.

NF: Exit Wounds.

SP: Yeah, all those titles seem to be generated from two hats filled with adjectives and nouns and you just “Okay, that’ll do.” And also with Shaun of the Dead, because it was a pun on a specific English sentence, phrase rather, it got changed a lot so we figured let’s start off with something that means nothing and then they won’t change it, but I think they are still going to change it. Like in Spain, Shaun of the Dead was called Zombies’ Party.

NF: It’s very euro, isn’t it?

SP: [in American accent] Zombies’ Party!

Simon, you and Edgar collaborate on the script. How involved is Nick in the writing process?

SP: We have a sort of period of rehearsal that takes place four weeks before we start shooting and Nick is the first person to get the script and the first person that we have in, and we have like a week of improvising. Well, just rehearsing but if anything comes up during the line readings, if Nick brings something else to it, then we’ll integrate it into the script, but in terms of when we’re on set, it’s pretty rigid. We’re quite anal about the right things being said at the right time. Sometimes it’s very necessary for things to be said in this particular way. But Nick always brings- – I mean ,”I’m not made of eyes” was his. There were a couple of other really nice- –

NF: I call it bringing the funny.

SP: Show me the funny.

Let’s talk about the future project. You wrote this script a while ago and put a lot of time into the writing process. What will be the next thing you guys write together?

SP: The next thing me and Nick write together, we’re busy working on at the moment which’ll be a little side project. We’re on planes and we talk about it briefly and then we land. It’s a kind of- – it’s a little thing- – it’s not going to be the third thing from Edgar and me. It’ll be something extra and Edgar won’t work on it as a director. He probably will give script notes or something. But me and Edgar had an idea as well for our… for the third one in the kind of Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz- –

NF: Blood and ice cream.

SP: The blood and ice cream trilogy we’re calling it, which we had as we landed in Sydney but we’re not going to say anything about it until it’s born because the last time we spoke of Hot Fuzz before we’d even started writing it and it became a thing that people wanted to know where it was and we hadn’t even started writing it. So we learned a lesson there.

Could you give an update for your fans of what you guys are working on now and what your schedule’s like for the next year?

NF: Well, I’ve got a show called Hyperdrive and another one called Manchester Woman which they come out kind of now, now in May. So when Simon and Edgar write a film, I go off and make British television. And then, you know, I’ve tasted forbidden fruit now. I like films. And then we’re writing our film so hopefully we’ll shoot that in the autumn. That’s kind of it. That’s going to take up our whole year.

SP: I’m doing a film in the interim of Toby Young’s book How to Lose Friends and Alienate People which is directed by Bob Weide who did Curb Your Enthusiasm. And it’s me and Kirsten Dunst at the moment but I’m not sure the rest of the cast yet so I can’t.

Do you have plans for the DVD on this?

SP: Yeah, it’s all done. It has to be done so quickly now, you know, because it’s three months after release that they want to get it out. It seems awfully fast but you’re barely done making the thing and you’re doing the commentary and putting the extras together. But we wanted to obviously do something that was as good if not better than the Shaun DVD so there’s loads of behind the scenes footage and little films we made.

NF: Everything’s covered from the very first rehearsal.

So you really thought about it when you were shooting the film?

SP: Oh yeah, I think you have to now.

NF: It can be quite an odd thing when you come off set shooting all day and then you have to sit and shoot a blog in your trailer so you’re constantly shooting, even when you’re not filming, there’s something to be blogged. We’re quite blogged out. We’ve got a blogger with us called Joe, a friend of ours who comes and blogs everything.

SP: So we’re doing a kind of thing for the- – actually for the American DVD, we’re putting together a special little documentary about this tour to go on the American DVD because I think they will be different. It might be a case of the completists with their region free players will have to buy two. It’s a hard decision.

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Where’s the Golden Bunny from the Shaun of the Dead commentary on the DVD?

SP: You find out in the commentary of Hot Fuzz.

Talk about working with veteran character actors in the supporting roles?

SP: It was great, it was really good. They were just such marvelous sort of people, weren’t they?

NF: It sounds quite… I wish we had a bit of gossip for you but they were great. And I’ll say that there’s a reason that they’re the top of their game because they’re the whole package. They’re prompt and they remember their lines and they’re nice. There’s no egos.

SP: They’re very good at what they do and they’re always so full of stories, the whole affair is just one long – Hot Fuzz was just one long anecdote-a-thon, acting with people who’d acted alongside Olivier and worked for Samuel Beckett. It was fantastic, just to sit around between shots and listen to them talk to each other.

NF: When we were rehearsing, before every rehearsal day, we had half an hour anecdote time just so you could hear Edward Woodward talk about The Equalizer. He speaks very fondly of it.

SP: I think it was his way of getting into the swing of things every day, he’d sit and he’d just tell us a story. He’s 76 now, he’s getting on but he’s absolutely amazing. As is Billy and Jim Broadbent had actually come to us. He’d come to us after Shaun of the Dead and sort of said, “Would you consider working with me in one of your future projects?” And we were kind of…

NF and SP: No.

SP: And so we immediately went away and wrote Frank Butterman in for Jim.

NF: Take your Oscar with you.

SP: Yeah, doesn’t mean anything here.

Are these big loud American action movies as big in England as they are here, big enough to have an audience as into the joke as we might be?

SP: Oh yeah because it’s not just a number of movies, it’s a whole genre that has fed into British culture since the ’50s in all its incarnations through the sort of hard bitten French Connection/Serpicos of the ’70s through to the more high concept Lethal Weapons and Die Hards and Last Boy Scouts and right into Bad Boys II. It’s evolved into the British consciousness. And also, we’re very hungry for American culture in the UK. I think there’s something- – we have a slight- – we don’t quite like seeing ourselves on the screen. We get a bit bored of it so exotic locations and people who have guns is so exciting to us.

NF: And cops that drive Ferraris.

The two you spoof most are Point Break and Bad Boys II. Were there other movies you were interested in doing but just couldn’t get the rights?

NF: We don’t use the S word by the way.

SP: Yeah, we don’t say spoof. It’s a dirty word.

Maybe homage?

SP: We’re thinking spastiches, I don’t know. Because ultimately, the film is what it’s sort of taking on. With Shaun of the Dead, we wanted to make a zombie film. We didn’t want to make fun of zombie films. At no point in the film do we ever make fun of zombie films. There are slightly more parodic elements in Hot Fuzz where we are drawing attention to some of those grander clichés that are always employed, like the neverending magazine full of bullets and the capacity to fire at each other and not hit anything.

NF: Clichés like someone saying, “I’ll give you information in five minutes” and you know that they’ll be dead in- –

SP: They have five minutes to live. But basically it’s like inhabiting that genre comedically rather than making fun of it. There’s no derision in Hot Fuzz. We don’t feel superior to the source material at all. In a way, the film is saying its okay to be dumb as long as you temper it with some intelligence occasionally. It’s all right to watch a firework display. You don’t have to watch Ibsen 24 hours a day. But I think we were going to mention Lethal Weapon but I don’t think Mel Gibson’s got a sense of humor.

How did you like being action heroes?

SP: It was great.

NF: It was really good fun.

What’s something we can ask Edgar that he won’t be expecting this morning?

NF: Why did you murder that boy?

SP: Watch the blood drain from his face? I don’t know, what could they ask Edgar?

Because you guys have been on tour forever.

NF: Ask him about cake flushing.

SP: Yeah, ask him about- – say that some of the sewers of Atlanta and, where else did you flush a cake down a toilet? All over Texas. The Texas sewageworks have been jammed up with cake. Can you explain?

NF: Seriously, if you ever get a chance to flush a cake, do it because it’s a joyous- – this is like my Pay it Forward to you lot.

SP: It was Nick’s birthday.

How do you do it?

NF: You put it in the toilet and you flush it.

Piece by piece?

SP: And you video it.

NF: If you want. If it’s a small cake, it can go down in one. Your American toilets, they fucking suck cake like no one. So I got given such a massive cake in Atlanta that I had to cut it into pieces with a shoe horn and flush it.

SP: We videoed the flushing as well.

Will that be on the DVD?

SP I hope so.

NF: For our tour finale in New York I’m going to flush a wedding cake.

SP: Tier by tier.

NF: And also an apple pie but I’m going to leave it in the toilet all day to steep and then flush it later so it breaks down easier.

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