Simon Pegg Exclusive Interview

     March 9, 2008

If you’ve been reading Collider for awhile, you know how much of a fan we all are of Simon Pegg. And since of all you love his work as much as us, I shouldn’t have to tell you that he co-wrote and was the lead in “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” or that he was part of the great British TV show “Spaced” (coming this summer to DVD here in the states), or that he has a few movies coming out soon like “Run Fatboy Run,” “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” or that he’s part of a small independent movie that arrives in 2009 called “Star Trek.” (He plays Scotty if you didn’t know)

But for those few that read movie websites and don’t know who he is…. seriously, what the hell is wrong with you. If you’ve gotten to this point without watching “Shaun of the Dead,” you need to stop what you’re doing and go buy a copy and watch it. You’ll then understand why geekdom has a thing for Simon Pegg.

Anyway, about a year and a half ago I posted what I still consider to be one of the best interviews I’ve ever done on Collider. And for those wondering…it was with Simon. For what may have been an hour, we sat and talked in his hotel room about all the projects he had coming up and we even geeked out over “Superman Returns” and “Star Wars.” (Remember, the interview was done in 2006) While I’ve learned a lot over the past year or two on how to do better interviews, that one was just great. Especially because I didn’t have prepared questions or agenda, we just talked about whatever came up.

So if you enjoyed that interview, I’ve got a new one with Simon that you’ll definitely love as well. Is it better than the first one…I’ll let you decide. But this one has great stories from the sets of all his new movies….even Trek!

And with that, here’s Simon. Of course, a big thank you to Simon for agreeing to do the interview and you can expect more with the Peggsterlater this month as he’ll be in town again to promote “Run, Fatboy, Run.”

Collider: The first thing…are you surprised at how many people are writing about Spaced and how unhappy people are that it’s getting remade and has anyone now tried to contact you?

Simon Pegg: The support has been staggering. People are genuinely hacked off. We’ve said all we have to say on this matter on our websites. The fact that it has been picked up by the press at large goes to show the depth of feeling involved with the situation. I’m not interested in some sort of public slanging match. Everyone knows what they’ve done, including those responsible for doing it.

Collider: Run, Fatboy, Run is finally coming out in the states but it did really well in Britain already. Were you surprised by the success or are you slowing making peace with the fact that you have more than 10 fans.

Simon Pegg: I have more than 10 fans?!!!! It was nice to have two number one films at the British box office last year, although it would be supremely arrogant to assume it was entirely down to my involvement. To be fair it was probably only about 89% that.

Collider: You did Run, Fatboy, Run with David Schwimmer. Obviously he’s Mr. Friends. What was it like working with him and did he ever tell you any juicy gossip from the show. Also, were you a fan of Friends or did you “have to watch it” because of a girlfriend.

Simon Pegg: I resisted Friends at first, because I had preconceptions about it being all schmaltz and white teeth. Those things are undoubtedly a part of it but pale into insignificance against some very sharp and inventive sitcom writing and a truly cohesive ensemble.

David’s a great person. He’s warm, funny, sensitive and incredibly generous. As a director he was extremely attuned to our needs as actors. He has an uncanny ability to sense your mood and he’s also very keen on everyone having input. I look back on the experience very fondly.

Collider: What was the best part of making Run, Fatboy, Run and did it involve Thandie.

Simon Pegg: Hanging out with one of the most beautiful women in the world is never gonna be a chore unless she compensates by being an ass and Thandie most certainly is not ass-like. She’s incredibly down to earth for someone as aesthetically equipped. I think, having just come off Crash, she was keen to have a laugh and threw herself into onset joking with a vengeance. One evening I got back to my trailer to discover she had taken the time to stitch up the neck and sleeves of my sweater. I pretended to be really upset, claiming the sweater was a present from my Mother and she had ruined it. She immediately felt awful and started crying. She learnt a valuable lesson that day. Don’t fuck with a fucker. I love her.

Collider: You did a voice for Diary of the Dead. Are you pretty much at the point that whatever Romero asks you to do you’d be cool with. And what’s it like working for him. Is it the kind of thing that you pinch yourself when you’re doing it?

Simon Pegg: Well it’s George isn’t it. I owe him a lot. Also, it’s obviously an honor to be asked. I did the voice over the phone from my house in London. We spent 20 minutes catching up, then 5 minutes doing the voice. Easiest job I ever did.

Collider: Another movie on the horizon is How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. How did you first get involved with the project? What was it like working with “The Dude” / Flynn? Did you ever talk Starman on the set?

Simon Pegg: Working with Jeff Bridges was amazing. You really have to bring your ‘A’ game. If you don’t, you will evaporate into the scenery. He is a truly remarkable actor and that is reflected in his ease and charm as a human being. We had real fun on set and off and I feel I learnt a lot from him. I was very lucky on How To Lose Friends, in terms of the actors I got to work with, it was a truly eclectic cast. I found Kirsten Dunst to be similarly inspiring. She’s only 25 years old but has 22 years experience. She has an incredible professionalism and natural ability as an actress, effortlessly inhabiting her role and drawing you into the scene with her. With both Kirsten and Jeff, I often had to concentrate on not just sitting back and watching them work

I got involved in the film after the director, Bob Wiede watched virtually everything I’ve ever done after my name came up in a meeting. Bob (who is the other main creative force behind Curb Your Enthusiasm) and I then had a meeting and London and that was that. It wasn’t until later when the other characters got cast that I realized exactly what I had signed up for.

Also, you worked with Gillian Anderson and I think you’re an X-Files fan. What was it like working with her and have you tried to get a cameo in the new movie.

Simon Pegg: My character Tim, in Spaced (available on region 1 DVD from July 23rd, accept no substitutes) was, like me a huge X-Files fan and, again like me, had a huge crush on Gillian. Bob was kind enough to bring up the scene in which Tim is apparently masturbating over magazine images of her, when she first walked into the rehearsal room. I’ll never forgive him for that. He broke the code and I blushed so much my eyes bled.

Gillian’s fantastic though, we talked a lot about the X-Files and inevitably I knew more about it than she did. We did talk about the possibility of doing a cameo in the new movie but decided against it because it would pop people out of the movie if my big geeky mug popped up.

Collider: For the part, did you talk with Toby Young? And have you seen a rough cut of the movie yet and what do you think?

Simon Pegg: I went out for dinner with Toby a few times and chatted to him. I found him to be great company and was slightly confused by the depth of loathing he inspires in some people. I didn’t want to impersonate him in the movie though. I play Sydney Young in the film, not Toby. The screenplay is very much inspired by events in the book rather than being a direct representation of them. I have seen a cut and I loved it. My film fan head appreciated the sharp dialogue, excellent performances and accomplished direction, my geek head was screaming, “look it’s me with Mary Jane Watson, Special Agent Dana Scully, The Dude and Mikaela from Transformers!”

Collider: Finally, what was it like filming in New York and London. Do you enjoy the location filming or does it ever get old.

Simon Pegg: It’s great to film at home. It means I can take my dog to work with me and get a home cooked meal in the evening. New York was an adventure. The first day of shooting was at a club on Times Square. My trailer was parked up curbside at the corner, of 46th and Broadway. I was sat in this nice , quiet, air conditioned space with a TV and hot and cold running smoothies whilst outside bustled perhaps the most chaotic, colorful, metropolitan nexus in the world. It was surreal. During the week we’d shoot by night in suchauspiciouslocations as under Brooklyn Bridge, at The Soho Grand, or in the heart of a very drunk Alphabet City and at the weekend Kirsten would take me shopping to all these cool clothes shops she knew about. I came back with a trilby and skinny jeans. I’m 38.

Collider:How did you first get connected with J.J. Abrams and were you a fan of any of his shows. What’s it like working with him? Did you see Cloverfield and what did you think?

Simon Pegg: JJ saw Shaun of the Dead and decided he wanted me to do M:I:3. He called me at my office and asked me and I said yes please. That was that. I don’t have praise high enough for that man. As we say here in the UK he’s the dog’s bollocks.

I thought Cloverfield was great. A brilliant concept and really smartly marketed. So simple and yet so effective. SPOILER ALERT!!!! – I was so pleased to noticed that great little detail at the very end. The genius being that the footage that was taped over was actually more important than the footage taken on the day. Love that shit.

Collider: While working on Star Trek, have you had any interaction with Damon Lindelof and are you a fan of Lost. Or the show I like to call the best thing that God ever invented on TV.

Simon Pegg: I didn’t meet Damon, although I am a huge fan of Lost. Man, is that a show that got it’s mojo back or what?! I think some felt it faltered slightly as it transpired that the survivors were sitting on top of a giant science experiment but it’s definitely found it’s focus again. The current episodes are just brilliant. I kept trying to catch JJ out on the set of Star Trek by walking up behind him and asking, “who are the Oceanic 6?’

more Simon on page 2 ——->


Collider: While this is a question that always gets asked…for this movie I think people will really want to know…how did you first find out that J.J. wanted you for Scotty and what was your initial reaction. Did you hesitate at all?

Simon Pegg: I got back from New York and switched on my phone to find an email from JJ. It read, simply…”Do you want to play Scotty?” I didn’t say yes straight away. I called JJ and said, this is a huge commitment. I don’t know if I should. JJ simply said, if the worst thing that happens is we get together every three years and have a great time, what’s to worry about. I was convinced after that.

Collider: How are you making Scotty your own, especially in the shadow of Doohan’s well known character?

Simon Pegg: I’m very aware that the character of Scotty belongs to James Doohan the man is a legend and it will always be his. Anything I do is a tribute to him. I actually got to meet his son Chris, which was a real treat. He told me a few stories from the old days, not least actually being on set when they were shooting The Trouble With Tribbles. He gave me a little bit of Dilthium Crystal from the show. I felt honored.

Collider: As someone who is famous for writing great dialogue, have you been able to work in any lines or ideas to the film?

Simon Pegg: No need.

Collider: As a fan of sci-fi, what’s it like being in the movie and on set. Are you prepared to be a Star Trek action figure and have you had your head scanned yet?

Simon Pegg: It was great being on such an auspicious set particularly as I am such a roaring geek. I still have the bruises from pinching myself.

I actually already have five official action figures, four for Shaun of the Dead and one for Doctor Who. Obviously more would be nice. You can never have enough.

Collider: Do you have a good story from the set that you could share, something that wouldn’t give anything away but would make the fans happy.

Simon Pegg: You’ll have to wait for the DVD. As for the fans, of which I am one, I cannot say this emphatically enough, put your trust in JJ, you will not be disappointed.

Collider: This is for fans of Trek. Please rank the Trek shows in order of preference. Also, if you don’t mind, please include why you ranked each show where you did. And the big one…who is your favorite captain. If you go with the new one, who is your favorite of the TV show captains and why.

Simon Pegg: Oh jeez, that’s a big question. I would say The Original because it’s the original, TNG because it reignited the franchise, Voyager because of 7 of 9, Deep Space 9 because of that fantastic throwback episode, the cartoon because I remember it vaguely, and lastly, Enterprise because I never saw it. An honorable mention must go to Star Trek: New Voyages which can be found on the net which has to be one of the most amazing examples of fan based dedication out there. It’s impossible not to get high on the love.

I would say Shatner’s Kirk is my favorite Captain because he created such a brilliantly charismatic character. Having said that, I must ask the world to prepare for the wonder of Chris Pine.

Collider: Did you have the accent ready to go or did you have to work on it. How scared were you the first day on set and doing your first line in front of everyone?

Simon Pegg: Half my family is Scottish so, I am around that accent constantly. My wife was on set with me and Tommy Gormley the film’s 1st AD, and one of the best 1st ADs I have ever had the pleasure of working with, is a dyed in the wool Glaswegian, so I had nothing to worry about. I had help.

Collider: I know you’re in London now. When do you come back to L.A. to finish Trek and how long will you be working on the film.

Simon Pegg: I’m back out in LA for a few days this month. I can’t wait.

Collider: Now that the writer’s strike is over, how excited are you to be able to incorporate new ideas and lines on the fly while shooting. Also, what was your reaction to finding out they pushed the film back to next summer?

Simon Pegg: As I implied above, the script was a sharp, engaging and exciting read before the strike started. It’s nice to have your work done for you sometimes.

I think it’s great about the film’s re scheduling even though the audience will have to wait longer. It’s such a great show of faith from the studio. I think they saw what JJ was coming up with and thought, “this is a summer movie”.

Collider: I know you are a fan of Heroes. Have you tried to talk withZachary Quinto about getting a part on the show?

Simon Pegg: I love Zach, he’s a very funny man and we had a great time on set. We did chat about Heroes but I didn’t ask him to put a word in on my behalf. Part of me doesn’t want to ruin a show I enjoy watching. That was my only problem with M:I:3. I was so wrapped up in the action and enjoying the film, when my potato head suddenly appeared, I was like, “aw man, get off”. I sure others felt that way too.

Collider: Have you been able to work with/talk to Leonard Nimoy and what’s that been like?

Simon Pegg: I can’t really say anything other than Leonard is a legend and wonderful person. It is something else to come face to face with a character you have known for almost thirty years. It doesn’t get much better as an actor or a geek.

Collider: Awhile ago you mentioned that you and Nick were working on a script. What’s the status of it and is it a project that might be your next film? Also, can you talk about what the film is about?

Simon Pegg: It’s called Paul and I can only tell you what’s already on the IMDB. I can tell you we’re nearing the end of the second draft and we’re very happy with it. We’re hoping to shoot toward the end of the year.

Collider: Edgar has said that you guys are going to do another script soon. Now that the strike is over, is that on the horizon? And if Edgar ends up doing Ant-Man or Scott Pilgrim, are you going to try and be in it. Are you guys like a package deal.

Simon Pegg: Edgar and I know what the third film will be, in what’s become known as The Blood and Ice Cream trilogy and as I have said before it will be the answer to the following equation – Shaun of the Dead x Hot Fuzz =

Collider: After working on a few big projects recently, are you thinking about going to a small indie next or are you enjoying playing in the big budget pool.

Simon Pegg: Funnily enough…you’ll have to wait and see.

Collider: Are you looking forward to writing with Edgar and Nick now that it’s been awhile…or are you enjoying just saying other people’s lines?

Simon Pegg: Edgar and Nick are my homies and there’s no place like homie.

Collider: This summer will be a big deal for Trek. Are you looking forward to being on stage in Hall H at Comic-Con in front of thousands of fans or are you a bit nervous.

Simon Pegg: I love Comic Con and I can’t wait. We’ll also be out there to launch the Region 1 DVD release of Spaced and on a completely unrelated matter, throw eggs at any panels we’re not so keen on.

Collider: What was your reaction when you first saw the new Trek trailer. Did you take a moment and sort of realize shit I’m in this.

Simon Pegg: That’s exactly what I thought. I was with Edgar and when it finished and my name briefly appeared, we looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Collider: And…last question. What are you doing after Trek?

Simon Pegg: How To Lose Friends comes out in October, Me and Nick will hopefully will shoot Paul (the film not a man) and then me and Edgar have to put the first phase of our career to bed. Pegg out.

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