Simon Pegg/Nick Frost on The World’s End, Cannibalism
Simon Pegg. Nick Frost. Edgar Wright. The guys responsible for Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World’s End, which “concludes” their thematic trilogy of movies about idiots who must save themselves/townsfolk/the world from zombies/serial killers/robot-alien thingies.
I had a chance to sit down with the three of them in Seattle to discuss their new movie, and at the very least sit back, laugh and listen to them talk about cannibalism, friendship and parrots, because that’s what happens when you sit down with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.
I tend to do very serious interviews, so my first question is: If you were zombies, who would you eat first?
Nick: No, that’s if we’re on a deserted island.
Simon: No, that’s if we have to eat… if we’re starving and we have to eat one of us. We’d eat you.
Simon: The trouble is, with being a zombie, it’d be whoever you’re closest to.
Nick: You’d be so milky…
Nick: You’d be like veal. Like really rich and soft.
Edgar: This guy [Simon] doesn’t have any fat anymore. He’d be like beef jerky.
Simon: Are you calling me a jerk?
Nick: Well obviously I’d be like juicy fat pork. The point I’m making is that I could bludgeon you to death. Then we’d feed.
Simon: Well if we were both zombies we wouldn’t eat each other anyway.
Nick: Well if we were zombies I wouldn’t really even care.
Edgar: We’d be quite indiscriminate. I think you’d get eaten first.
Simon: If you’d eaten the cheese [we offered you], maybe not.
Edgar: That’s why when he offered it… in our new film, that’s the only thing that can save you.
Simon: World War Cheese.
Second serious question: Who would you replace as a robot-alien thingy? He/she doesn’t have to be in this room…
Simon: Kim Jung Il?
Nick: David Cameron.
Simon: Anyone in a position of power…
Edgar: Prince Donk
Nick: It’s King Winston?
Is that his name?
Nick: Not yet.
Edgar: I’d replace Taylor Swift.
Nick: Would you? I think that’s already been done.
Simon: A lot of people would replace Taylor Swift.
Nick: She can get plasticized like all the other girls.
You already answered my next question… your official statement on the new prince? [this interview was conducted the day Kate Middleton gave birth]
Edgar: The new prince? I love Prince. Does he have a new album?
The baby prince…
Nick: Ah, Prince Donk.
Simon: We welcome the arrival of Prince… Gary. King Gary. King Gary I.
Edgar: We want him to be called Gary. And good luck to him…
Nick: Mazel tov… It could be a while until he’s in charge. Say the queen is another ten years.
Simon: Well I think the queen might abdicate and then William and Charles may pass on it, so he’d become King Baby.
Not if Queen Elizabeth gets swapped with a robot-alien thingy…
Simon: The queen has no real influence… you have to replace people with influence. The whole point is that you indoctrinate slowly. You give it to people of power, like for instance, like Kim Jong Il would be a great one. Then you could reprogram North Korea into being sort of a healthy place.
Edgar: The queen got new cache as soon as Helen Mirren started playing her. You never think of the queen in a sexy way and then after Helen Mirren, you started thinking…
Nick: Queen got game.
Edgar: Queen got game!
Obviously you like doing movies set in small towns. Are you all from small towns?
Nick: I know… of a small town, where my family is from. Which is kind of creepy and weird, because you go back and everything is exactly the same.
Edgar: I think that as we’ve all grown up in that kind of area, it’s something… that if you grow up with an active imagination and you watch a lot of genre films, your natural inclination is to set them in the places you grew up. You’re existence needed shaking up. Or, there’s just paranoia about that town in its own right, whether it’s about darker secrets, or in this movie it’s about returning to your hometown and finding it’s changed without you. So specifically in this town, we wanted it to be about that. The emotion, the bittersweet feeling that you get returning to your hometown to find yourself alienated.
Edgar: Literally alienated.
So are you going to do another one?
Simon: Well, yeah, we’re pretty likely going to make another film together.
Edgar: Definitely will.
Simon: Definitely will. But I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. I don’t want to assume you guys want to make love to me again.
But this film gave us an opportunity, especially the way the first two films evolved having that little thread between them, even though they aren’t sequels they are related, to make another film that tied the two together and made a trilogy if you will. The next film won’t have to abide by the rules we set with these ones. And yeah, we absolutely will, and it will be great fun trying to come up with an idea, it’s going to be an interesting thing to give to the audience because they’ll be expecting something that they won’t get. It’s not going to be another one like this. It might even be a drama, whatever we feel like doing, whatever tickles our fancy.
Nick: I think we should treat ourselves and have like a film where you play like a beachcombing stroke dusty captain who owns a boat. And I play the voice of a parrot that you find…
Edgar: That could easily be shot in Seattle.
Nick: I was thinking Bora Bora…
Simon and Nick, you two are doing The Boxtrolls together, right?
Simon: Not together. I didn’t know Nick was in it until I read the press release. Nick’s playing one of the boxtrolls. I’m playing a person in it; I’m playing the father. And so we did a film together without even knowing it.
Nick: You’re just on your own in a little box doing your lines. You don’t see anyone else.
Do you ever interact in animated movies?
Simon: I did some lines with Isaac [Hempstead Wright] who plays the hero, who is Bran in Game of Thrones. We did some dialogue together, but it’s very rare. I never met the other cast members in Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. I never met Queen Latifah, never met Denis Leary, never met It’s a Shame About Raymond… what’s that show called?
Everybody Loves Raymond.
Edgar: “It’s a Shame About Raymond!” [laughs]
Simon: It’s a shame about Ray Romano. That’s the way with animation, you’re just in a box.
Edgar: The show is called, Everyone Knows Raymond Except Simon Pegg.
Nick: Not if you were the last Raymond on Earth.
Simon: I think that’s why I wasn’t in Ice Age 4, because Raymond didn’t like me.
Edgar: No, I think what happened is that it was a mistake that you were in the third one. They were like, “No, we meant the other one.”
Nick: I’d play like a 5,000-pound bull seal.
You guys clearly get along well… do you hang out together outside work?
Edgar: Not as much as we’d like. What’s nice about doing films is that we get to be together more. I sort of split time between London and LA, but even in London we don’t live close to each other anymore. So work in a very nice way brings us together. Like writing, shooting it and promoting it is really nice. So if there are future films it will partially be a contrivance for us to be together.
Simon: There was a time when we tried to live in the same five miles. We all lived on each other’s doorsteps. But now we don’t anymore because that’s the way life takes you, but the fact that we’re still friends demonstrates that we’re surviving by going forwards, which is the whole point with the guys in The World’s End is that they don’t have anything in common anymore, they can’t move forward. Gary [Simon’s character] can only look backwards and the secret to a long lasting friendship is not to rely on nostalgia.
Nick: Simon and I were friends for eight years before we did any work together and now we’re four films into a 12-year acting career.
Simon: Six, if you count Tintin and Boxtrolls.
Nick: What’s that laugh for, Edgar?
Edgar: No, it’s just you said Boxtrolls and we just established that you weren’t in the same room together. That does not count.
<The interview then devolves into a series of parrot voices and ramblings.>
Edgar: Do you have to write all this out?
I have to write some of it out. So is this what the set of The World’s End is like?
E: People always ask that, how do we keep from cracking up? The thing is that the actual shoot, at least for me, is quite a marathon. We shot this film in 12 weeks, which is one less than what we did with Hot Fuzz. And there’s a lot to do so we’re working so hard. It’s funny, when I watch the outtakes reel from the DVD, the outtakes make it look like it’s a breeze.
Simon: We heard you laughing a couple of times.
Edgar: I know! Those outtakes were like those 10 minutes when we were having lots of fun.
Nick: 10 minutes in 12 weeks.
Edgar: But one thing that is true, that’s funny, if you look at any take where the five actors are together, they are usually talking about something completely different up until the moment when “Action” is called. They might be talking about the Alabama Shakes and then, “Action” and into the scene. So that’s always kind of funny, the five friends sitting around a table are also five friends as actors sitting around a table talking about stuff.
And what do you think of Edgar as a director? Is he authoritative when on set?
Nick: <whistles like a parrot>
Nick: Big shot.
Simon: We know Edgar well enough to know… he’s very concentrated on set. And he works very hard, and I think a slightly more sensitive actor might be worried that he doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing, but the fact is that Edgar will move on and when Edgar moves on that means he’s happy, and if he’s happy that means you’ve done the perfect job.
Nick: Also, I think the nuts and bolts of it is that Simon and I are also producers on the film so we go where we need to go in terms of…
Edgar: They have responsibilities, too.
Simon: It’s a little easier for us to be sort of front of house. We kind of keep the crew laughing and so Edgar can get on and do his job, which in this case was extremely difficult.
Nick: <parrot sounds>
I think that’s my cue…
Note: Yes, I managed to conduct an entire interview and not ask about Ant-Man or Star Trek 3. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.