When Shaun of the Dead hit theaters in 2004, audiences the world over were rocked by a brilliantly original, funny, and genuinely touching piece of filmmaking that just so happened to revolve around a zombie apocalypse. Writer/director Edgar Wright, co-writer/star Simon Pegg, and star Nick Frost reunited again in 2007 on the action comedy Hot Fuzz, this time working within the buddy cop format and again turning out something wholly unique and wildly entertaining. Wright, Pegg, and Frost have now teamed up for the final entry in their unofficial “Three Flavours” trilogy—this year’s The World’s End—and the pic promises to be another fantastic effort from the trio as it follows five childhood friends who happen upon dire circumstances as they make their way through a pub crawl.
Steve recently spoke with Pegg for an interview in anticipation of the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, and the actor was gracious enough to also talk quite a bit about The World’s End. He discussed the soundtrack that he and Wright have put together for the film, how his writing process with Wright on World’s End compared to Shaun and Hot Fuzz, bringing every actor that appeared in the previous two films back for World’s End, the possibility of a Comic-Con screening, and more. Hit the jump to read on.
First off, if you missed what Pegg had to say about Star Trek, deleted scenes, spoilers, goofing around on set, and more, click here.
Simon Pegg: All music that isn’t score in World’s End was released between 1987-92. Edgar and myself had a blast delving into our music collections for the right period tracks. We put together a playlist that we would listen to whilst we were writing. We wound up with a bunch of stuff, some of which we were listening to at time and other stuff that we might not necessarily have been into but has since become somewhat classic. Everything from Primal Scream to Kylie Minogue.
With the movie arriving in a few months…are we about to get hit with a ton of marketing materials?
Pegg: I would imagine so, particularly as the release dates have been brought forward in both the US and the UK. There will be more posters and trailers as we approach the various release times. We’re thrilled that Universal/Focus want the film to be a summer movie but it means we have a lot of marketing to do in a short space of time.
Talk about the balance of trying to sell a movie without revealing all the jokes and twists and turns.
Pegg: It’s a headache but our marketing team are sympathetic to our desire to protect the film. Unfortunately the necessity to promote a film sometimes works against it, in that you are forced to reveal information that in an ideal world, you would hold back. Nick Frost and myself both feel Paul was somewhat spoiled by the need to tell people it involved an alien when the script called for the audience to be as shocked by Paul’s appearance as Graeme and Clive are. Of course we were never allowed that luxury. The fact is, despite the affection for our films in the US among film fans, on the mainstream stage we are still unknown and foreign and the film needs to be marketed aggressively, which means giving stuff away. Unfortunately, it’s the way of things, some people need to see the film, otherwise they won’t go and see the film. If you are definitely going to see The World’s End, I would suggest not watching the trailers at all, your experience will be far more gratifying.
What was the writing process like on World’s End compared to Shaun and Hot Fuzz?
Pegg: We have refined our technique over the years although it remains pretty similar to the other two. We still use a flip chart to lay out all our ideas. We start on a large canvas and then refine and refine until we have the screenplay we want to shoot. We never stop writing, all through the shoot and even through the edit. Once we have all the visual materials, things sometime change, which require rewrites or cuts. I feel like this one was the smoothest and most efficient. I love writing with Edgar, I think we bring out the best in each other.
Pegg: Once the film is in the can, I’m usually moving onto something else as an actor. I watch cuts of the movie and give my input but Edgar and our long time editor and friend, Paul Machliss do the heavy lifting. I try and stay present, so that I’m there for Edgar if he needs me and Edgar won’t lock the film until we are both happy. Our post team is amazing though and it’s exciting to sit back and see it evolve into a film.
You put together a great cast. Based on the success of Shaun and Hot Fuzz, was it extremely easy to land everyone? Who was the toughest person to cast?
Pegg: Edgar and I decided that everyone who had been in both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz would be back for this film, even if only fleetingly. Our main actors we had our eye on from the start, to the point where we would write their real names in the script which would help us write dialogue specifically for them. We were very lucky getting the cast we wanted and there were no problems assembling the final Cornetto gang, there are newcomers too, one huge one that I think people are really going to dig.
Pegg: Edgar and I always like to turn up to set with a finished script. There’s a a lot of set up and pay off woven into the script which is vital to the film’s overall effect, so improvising off on tangents can sometimes confuse that. The trouble with improv is that it is often about being funny in the moment without any real consideration for the bigger picture, the greater good if you will. Films that rely on their cast to be funny are often episodic and feel like a series of loosely connected sketches rather than a satisfyingly structured script. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not how me and E work. Having said that, there is always room for new jokes on the day if they come up and we’re always keen to naturalise the speech patterns.
With the film opening in the UK a few days after Comic-Con, do you think you guys might screen it in San Diego?
Pegg: I couldn’t say, that’s not really up to me. I’d love to do that although I’m not sure how we’d hand out the tickets, since our core audience is there. Ultimately, that’s up to our marketing team. I’ll have a word.
Look for more with Simon Pegg tomorrow night.