Q & A with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with 'The World's End' a day away


The World’s End, the third and final film in the aptly named Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy or the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, crashes U.S. theaters on Friday. If you’ve seen the first two bits of brilliance from the minds of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, get in line now for the unofficial trilogy finale. If you haven’t, rent them, download them or stream them any way possible tonight and then get in line Friday for what is a fitting third Cornetto flavor in the trilogy.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost came through North Texas recently as part of their tireless promotional tour for the film. They graciously sat down with Tellyspotting the morning after a fairly late night at the local Alamo Cinema and Drafthouse for a screening of the entire trilogy. Life doesn’t get any better than this…

Tellyspotting: Most excited and/or nervous moment for both the whole of the UK and the two of you…the premiere of The World’s End, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, the birth of the royal baby or naming the 12th Doctor on Doctor Who?

Simon Pegg: (laughing) Andy Murray winning Wimbledon was very exciting. But the film coming out is our big birth. It’s our third baby and Will and Kate are just having their first. For us, it’s the combination of 10 years of work and it’s super, super exciting.

Nick Frost: Andy Murray is Scottish, remember. Actually, we say British when he’s playing for us and winning. When he’s losing, he’s Scottish.

TS: The character of Gary King, from the outset, seems like someone with not much to him other than making sure he completes the Golden Mile. In reality, there’s a lot more to him than you see on the surface isn’t there.

Simon: He is complex. The central character in the first two film were very reactive. With Gary, however, he’s very proactive. Even when everything goes crazy, he continues on the same path he started on. Gary seizes on the craziness of what’s happening as an excuse to keep going whereas the others are on the verge of giving up on the night. He’s motivated by very complex issues. Initially, he’s very unlikeable. He’s annoying. He’s like Beetlejuice. But, you begin to understand he’s being driven by darker motives.
 
The World's End

TS: Edgar likened Gary to a drunken Doctor Who. Fair Assessment?

Simon: Maybe a darker, drunken Doctor Who.

Nick: Gary has a better companion.

TS: Nick, your character of Andrew seems a bit like a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Kind of fun to be the mil-mannered but secretly angry adult of the bunch knowing that from an audience standpoint there’s a when is it going to happen Hulk-type moment later in the film?
 
Andy goes Hulk in World's End

Nick: Well, he’s been hurt. I kind of love the fact that Gary’s pull is so primal on Andy that within three or fours hours of meeting him after not seeing him for 16-17 years, it’s back on, you know. I don’t think he wants to do that but he can’t help himself. He has a beef with him and he has to get it off his chest. If that means he has to destroy 100 robot aliens then he’s going to do that. He’s a responsible man.

Simon: I think it also bothers Andy that he still cares. He’s tried to get passed this but there was never any closure between them.

TS: Beginning with Spaced and moving through Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul and now, The World’s End, it’s evident there is a definite love of cinema in the both of you and with Edgar. Where does that come from?

Simon: We’re both children of the 70’s, we’re movie brats.

Nick: The emergence of home video too. That was a big deal. I could watch a film at home growing up. I had parents who went to the pub on Sunday. Here’s two pound, watch whatever film you want. So I’d go the video store next door and get Exorcist or some other great family entertainment.

Simon: Nick makes a great point. We were there on the front lines when the film industry was de-mythologized and, suddenly, through technology, we had access to an entire back catalog of films and we could watch them in our living rooms. We both were resent where we took ownership of what you watched, unlike the cinema or even TV where someone else decided what you could watch.

TS: Regarding the initial writing of the film, Simon is it difficult to write for yourself?

Simon: It’s easier in a way because you know your strengths. For Edgar and me, it was easier to sculpt the script for specific actors like Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, etc. Either way, it has to serve a purpose.

Nick: I never felt that. With Paul, I never felt like I was writing something because “I” want to do that. It has to work in the context of the film first and foremost.

TS: What is it about a character like a Basil Fawlty or Edmund Blackadder that audiences or, in the case of Gary, his high school friends, feel a great deal of empathy for and really like despite all the reasons right there in front of them not to?

Simon: It’s partly being the underdog theory and partly, you just want them to catch a break for once.

Nick: It’s also, partly, you could be him or you could know someone like him.

Simon: There’s a great tradition in British sitcom, unlike American sitcoms where the lead character is sympathetic, there sunnier and you’re on their side, whereby characters like Basil Fawlty, David Brent, Alan Partridge, characters that are quite hateful, but at the same time, you’re desperate for them to catch a break.

Nick: I think in American sitcom, viewers tend to want their characters to succeed whereas in Britain, we don’t. We like to see them fail.

TS: The fight scenes were pretty cool. While I’m sure they were massively well scripted, were they fun to do? I mean, Nick, you got to do the People’s Elbow, didn’t you?

Nick: Without a doubt, the most electrifying move in sports entertainment.

Simon: ‘Pub-Fu’ as we called it. A mixture of wrestling moves and martial arts with two moves made famous by The Rock thrown in.

Nick: It was fantastic. We trained for about four weeks. Edgar had this belief that you don’t cut away from the actor. It’s exciting to see the actor do the bits. It’s so commonplace to cutaway and see the back of the actors head or falling through a table and then cut to the main actor getting up dusting himself off. That’s boring.

Simon: It was important to Edgar to keep the scene about the people that are fighting and not just about the fight.

TS: Are there advantages or disadvantages to have a film immediately compared to your previous efforts of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz?

Simon: We decided that if we tried as hard and applied ourselves that, technically, it should still work. Whether it’s an advantage or a disadvantage, it’s definitely an advantage. That said, it was very important to us that the new film stood beside the other two. A film like The World’s End demands to be seen more than once. You have to engineer it and make it complex enough for people to see more than once. You owe it to people to do that because of home video and download. We’re in the age of repeated viewing. You want someone to see it again and say, “Oh, I see, I get it now.”

Nick: We definitely don’t take anything for granted. We haven’t changed ourselves or would we ever think, well we’ve made these two films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and they were popular so now, we’ll just turn out rubbish and people will like it. That’s not how we work. We still work incredibly hard to be honest with ourselves.

TS: Nick, what’s the one thing Simon doesn’t want anyone to know about himself?

Nick: He is very messy.

TS: Simon, same with Nick. What’s the one thing no one knows about him?

Simon: Nick could be an amazing chef. He has amazing culinary skills…a kitchen artist.

Nick: When I get bored with acting, that’s what I want to do. Twenty covers, very simple, no menu, you get what you’re given.

TS: Could either of you see yourself in a walk on part in Downton Abbey?

Simon: Absolutely. Although, Lady Sybil is gone now, she was my favorite. I kind of had a crush on her, but now she’s gone. Everyone’s dying in Downton Abbey.

TS: What makes you laugh today?

Simon: Nick.

Nick: Simon.
 
Simon, Nick and Tellyspotting for The World's End

Kind of says it all. With that, Simon and Nick were off to buy boots and head to Austin. The World’s End hits U.S. theaters on Friday. Go now and get a good seat.