Last week, I took a trip to London for the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download release of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. While I’ll have a full recap of my trip tomorrow, part of the trip involved sitting down to a nice meal with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at the St. Stephens Tavern. Usually, interviews with actors are around ten to twenty minutes, but my fellow movie website writers and I got to spend an hour-and-a-half eating lunch and chatting with the charming actors. I wish all interviews could go like this since it’s more laid back, the conversation flows more freely, and delicious fish and chips are always a welcome bonus.
Instead of transcribing the entire 90-minute interview, I’ve pulled out some of the highlights, which includes more details about the robots (a.k.a “blanks”), the actors’ past films, the story behind the infamous Ant-Man photo Pegg posted to Twitter, Internet rumors, the culture of arrested development, and much more. Hit the jump to read the recap. The World’s End as well as the “Cornetto Trilogy”, which also contains Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, are now available for Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download.
Talking about The World’s End
- Pegg said at one point there was an idea for the blank with legs for arms to have six legs, but then they realized that would also take four more joints. They also had a version where the blanks could form together to form “mega-blanks” like a scorpion blank or something similar at the Beehive where Shepherd (Pierce Brosnan) would be the head. However, they had to ditch this idea because it was too expensive.
- I always thought the blue blood was a nice touch and another way to make the robots unique, but Pegg says they chose blue blood because it’s like ink, which is a callback to high school when people would doodle in their notebooks all day.
- There was some pressure to shoot the movie on digital for cost reasons, but Wright and Pegg felt that they needed to shoot on film so that the trilogy would be aesthetically consistent. Otherwise, The World’s End would have looked out of place.
- Shooting on film isn’t too much of a problem since Wright’s directions are incredibly precise. They don’t improvise, and that’s not because they don’t look down on it, but because the camera moves are so specific. Pegg cites This Is the End as a film where improvising works because it’s more about riffing and less about where the camera is placed. “To do it well takes a lot of work,” says Pegg. “It’s just not the way we work.”
- As a fun side note, Frost pointed out that on Network’s map of where they’ve placed blanks, there weren’t any in Sweden, Germany, and Japan. Apparently, those countries didn’t require any “help”.
- But the most interesting comment regarding the movie was how Pegg believes The World’s End is the happiest one they’ve ever done even though it ends with the apocalypse. In Shaun, almost everyone Shaun knows is dead, and in Hot Fuzz, Nicholas and Danny are the new fascists. Personally, from a plot perspective, I think he’s right, but Wright plays those endings so upbeat that it’s tough to consider them downers or that they’ve pulled a fast one on the audience.
Looking Back at Their Previous Movies
Looking back at past films, Pegg says he doesn’t watch Shaun of his own volition, but if it’s on, he’ll watch it. For Run Fatboy Run, he says he has a soft spot for it. But for the most part, he doesn’t really go back because watching the movies conjures up all the emotions from the time of making it. For example, he hasn’t watched Paul since it came out because he and his wife were having a baby at the time and, obviously, it was a hugely emotional experience. He did say he gets a kick out of watching himself acting well like in Hector and the Search for Happiness, a film he recently did, which he’s really proud of and says it’s the most dramatic thing he’s ever done. But, “watching it was a really intense experience,” and although he really likes the film, he doesn’t think he’ll be watching it again any time soon.
The Culture of Arrested Development
Back in their earlier films, the notions of growing up and taking responsibility were a real concern, and that was part of what they were talking about in Spaced. “Our generation has been given this ten-year extension, maybe more, to their youth” says Pegg, “but no one knows what the fuck to do with it.” The solution has apparently been to keep acting like a kid for ten more years by playing video games, going paintballing, etc. So there’s a “bizarre wilderness period from 20-40 where we’re wondering, ‘Am I grown-up or am I kid?’” Frost elaborated that this was from having a generation that wasn’t decimated by world war, “and now there are millions more of us sitting around wondering, ‘What are we going to do?’’”
Frost went on to make the equally insightful point that our culture has become more about emotions than actually doing something. He provided the example of people tweeting about the recent typhoon where it’s not actually doing something, but it makes you feel like you’ve done something. “And that’s enough for a lot of people,” says Frost.
The Ant-Man Photo and the Internet Rumor Mill
On a lighter note, Pegg explained his Ant-Man photo by saying he was at the Marvel offices to do a podcast for The World’s End, they were walking around, there was a giant mural on the wall, and Ant-Man was on that mural. So it wasn’t pre-planned, but he knew when he tweeted the photo that it would set off the fanboys.
Our conversation then segued into Pegg talking about the desperation for information and provided the example of Joe Cornish being rumored for Star Trek 3, “because it’s news, but it’s not really news.” Pegg also talked about being in the know for rumors like casting stuff and knowing if it’s true or not true, and also being aware that sometimes it’s the actor’s agent who leaked something because they want their client to be in the conversation. But with Cornish, “Yes. They’re talking to him.”
Pegg also dispelled two rumors he saw on Wikipedia: 1) Ricky Gervais wasn’t offered the role of Benji before Pegg in Mission: Impossible 3, but was offered a different role in the film; 2) Pegg was never cast as Rorschach in Watchmen, and he was never cast in Love, Actually.
As a big fan of Pegg and Frost, I had a blast getting to sit down and talk with them for so long, and it didn’t hurt that all of the other writers at the table asked thoughtful, insightful questions. I didn’t have a chance to watch the Blu-ray special features before the lunch, it’s good to know that we got to talk about subjects that probably weren’t included on the disc and are outside most of the press tour questions they were asked hundreds of times (Pegg said the question they got most often on the tour was, “So was that real beer you were drinking?”).
This conversation was only one part of my great trip to London. Come back tomorrow to read about my pub-crawl, fancy meals, the evils of pub trivia, and how an attempt to jump over a hedge did not go well for me.