The World’s End is a new British comedy with science fiction overtones from British director Edgar Wright. In Australia as part of a global promotional tour, I sat down with Wright to discuss beer, his Grindhouse trailer Don’t and his enthusiasm of filming Marvel’s Ant-Man on American soil.
Firstly I have to ask, any chance of a Scott Pilgrim sequel?
Edgar Wright – No, I never have any aspirations to do sequels to anything I’ve done. All of Scott Pilgrim was covered from the graphic novels so that’s it, even though the cast were a blast to work with.
Is the pub crawl in The World’s End based on an actual event?
EW- Possibly the first 3 minutes of the film, it’s somewhat similar to a pub crawl I had when I was 19 when I tried to drink a pint of beer in every pub in my hometown but made it less than half the way. It was my idea as well, so when I flaked out it came to a grinding halt. It’s not like my friends carried on without me. It simply stopped.
Responsible consumption of alcohol is out the window in your film, is that correct?
EW – We don’t entirely glorify it. We show some of the negative aspects too. We show the lead character is obsessed beyond the point to hang out with his friends and drink.
What beer do you drink the most yourself?
EW – I used to drink more younger as I’m more a spirits or wine drinker now. I would probably go for a more boutique Belgium beer.
Not sure whether you were taking the piss (pardon the pun) of Australians by having Kylie Minogue on the soundtrack and a bit of Fosters being drunk in the film.
EW – As you are well aware, Fosters is inescapable in every British pub; it’s everywhere. But credit to Fosters because they were one of the few companies to say yes to us using their tap logo. They allowed us to use the brand within the movie because other beer conglomerates refused to admit people actually get drunk so they said no. One brand in particular said we feel uncomfortable with the amount of drinking in the film. I responded with “You can’t tell me that’s not what happens to get drunk.” (laughing)
Who was that? Can you tell me?
EW – Thanks Budweiser, there’s an exclusive.
How much actual beer was drunk during the filming?
EW – Zero, people ask that a lot. It’s like about Shaun of the Dead everyone asks are you stoned? It’s like this. You can’t drink real beer and make a movie successfully, unless you want to be asleep by midday.
Hmmm, I know. (Edgar laughs at my joke enthusiastically).
EW – Actors have to do more than one take too, the liquid was this concoction of lemonade and cream soda. Simon (Pegg) drinks a pint of one in many scenes; he has a diamond core to get through that and a strong bladder.
Is Newton Haven (the town where the film takes place) real and are there 12 pubs within it?
EW – It is not a real town; it’s an amalgamation of two towns originally built by the Quakers or miners and only has 8 real pubs of the 12. The rest are set designs. One was a Thai restaurant we made into a pub, one is a cinema we made into a pub (the Mermaid where Kylie Minogue is playing), one was a pet shop, the final one was a train station.
When you and Simon (Pegg) write, is it together or separate collaborations?
EW – Together in an office. One types, the other one paces, then we swap. We don’t compare notes; it’s all together at all times.
Is Gary King (Pegg’s obnoxious character) fictional?
EW – Everybody has that kind of person in their past. (laughs) The person who was the coolest kid at school who peaked at 18 then went downhill. I would say many have had friends kind of similar. That said, we have sympathy for him, the movie is about redemption and a little angst. He goes from being the walking car crash of a man to the ultimate human.
Without giving the sinister twist away, I instantly thought of Village of the Damned, Stepford Wives. Inspirations were they?
EW – Yes all those British films, especially Quatermass and The Prisoner.
Rosamund Pike, one of the few females in the cast, is adorable. She says “Oh crumbs!” all the way through it. Was that to counteract the boy’s foul language?
EW – Good question, it’s a true story. Her character is based on a girl I went out with literally 21 years ago. When Rosamund asked me if I was still friends with her, and I was but only on Facebook. So I emailed this girl, and said “hey I’m doing a movie and Rosamund Pike wants to meet you.” I lied and didn’t say she was playing her; I said she is playing someone in a responsible job and you’re in a responsible job as a compliance officer. So they met, went out to dinner, I have no idea what they actually talked about on their girls night. One of the things Rosamund said was she frequently says “Oh crumbs!” (from the old cartoon Dangermouse).
Were any of her scenes on the cutting room floor? It’s a fleeting role.
EW – No, that was a design without giving too much away, but she was not part of the boys’night out in the movie. Joins them, gets insulted, leaves but comes back unexpectedly. Deep down, Simon’s character wants the boys to keep drinking but also misses that female presence. It’s plot-related sparking a big argument.
How have your stars (Nick Frost & Simon Pegg) changed over all the years of working together?
EW – I don’t think they have changed as people, remaining as nice and down to earth as ever. If anything they have gotten better as actors especially Nick in this film, his best performance in my eyes. Simon has less body fat after appearing on screen with Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible 3 & 4) inspired him to get ridiculously gym fit, Simon is suddenly ripped. His hair is longer too, he wanted to wear a wig but I insisted he had to dye it.
The cinematography is hectic at times.
EW – Well it’s less hectic than Scott Pilgrim; many of the shots are longer. Pilgrim has many cuts and flashes, this is designed to be continuous. I had an Australian stunt coordinator Brad Allen who also worked on Pilgrim.
Will we ever see a feature version of Don’t (one of the fake trailers in the Grindhouse double feature)?
EW – I don’t think so, we saw the best version of it already in 90 seconds. A longer version would lose the point. I would rather do a serious horror film to be honest. A 90 minute version of Don’t would not be better than my Grindhouse effort.
Are you looking forward to filming in the US for the first time with Ant-Man. What can you reveal about that Marvel film?
EW – Not many films shoot in Hollywood, I’ve never filmed anything on American soil, so I’m really looking forward to it. Can’t talk about Ant-Man just yet. Sorry, Shane. Thanks, Mate.
Inside a stylish boardroom of the Intercontinental Hotel Sydney, sitting next to Simon Pegg & across from Nick Frost, two British guys who have done some very good films, many of them together, they prove to be fascinating and in symmetry with each other’s answers.
So, any chance of a Paul sequel (a movie they did that was a huge hit in Down Under)?
Simon Pegg (SP) – No, the problem is, that level of budget just wouldn’t get made now.
Nick Frost (NF) – If we were going to do it, we would have done it immediately. We were not even contacted to continue the story.
SP – The film did great, but a sequel would involve multiple Paul’s so production price would be through the roof. I don’t want to make a sequel to anything for the sake of it, including Run Fatboy Run now I have lost a lot of weight. We never made a sequel to Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz because the story was done and we didn’t want to. People ask about Shaun all the time, but what’s the point, everybody’s dead! We had an idea of a Paul sequel called Pauls, but the special effects were so complicated. Paul himself took 20 million to create, it’s a commercial business and wasn’t successful enough to continue.
You guys kick some serious butt in The Worlds End. How did you both get fight fit for that?
SP – We were put into place by a remarkable stunt team headed by Australian Brad Allen who is part of Jackie Chan’s stunt team, they put us through our paces of training. They worked us really hard but looked after us. They didn’t want us to get hurt, a lot of defense.
NF – He had an amazing calm to him which was really unnerving because you know he could crush you.
SP – If he gave you a smile, he was approving of you, it meant the world.
Any injuries on set? And Nick, I have to say, brilliant rage scene.
NF – Well thank you very much, I was sad that cardigan got ripped (laughing). Originally that was supposed to be my shirt coming off. So you were spared me running around shirtless for half the film, plus I have tattoos that would have been needed to be covered.
SP – Covering tattoos is contentious by make-up artists, but there is a great spray out now for that. I broke my hand in a jumping scene, but I continued to film. A camera assistant was the only one who noticed me sweating and cause for concern.
Is there an established character you would like to play?
SP – Maybe Bond, James Bond. (laughing) I’ve worked with three, Pierce Brosnan is in The World’s End of course, Timothy Dalton was part of Hot Fuzz, and Danny (Craig) did Tin Tin.
NF – Anything Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t want to do, I’ll do it.
What is your process of writing together?
SP – Well, this one was me and Edgar (Wright). We write in a collaborative way with a brainstorming session, and then brought Nick into the process for his input on the rest of the script. Then we work with the cast, so when we arrive on set it is completely watertight, we don’t have time to improvise on set. Sometimes an idea pops up on set and we go with it, but that’s rare.
NF – Edgar has an idea of how the scenes are cut, so there is no need for extra nonsense, money wasted.
Nick, you’re more of the straight person in this, and Simon, you’re the screw up to some extent, how did you approach the roles?
SP – It was different; we wanted to audience to be on alert, generally with the script we wanted to not just deliver what was expected of us.
NF – We are actors, so any chance to be someone else or do something new.
Plenty of Fosters (Aussie beer that Aussie’s don’t drink) was consumed throughout the film, do you drink it yourselves back in the UK?
NF – No, I would never drink that piss. (laughs)
SP – It’s common in the UK we are always led to believe that it’s all you drink here.
What was your first day on set like with this eclectic cast?
NF – The first day was freezing cold and the scene was where we were waiting for Simon’s character Gary at the bus stop. Gary is inside playing Need for Speed while we waited. It was 7:30 AM and a couple of busloads of soccer fans pulled up completely drunk to use the town toilets.
Rosamund Pike is adorable albeit not in the film much. Did she just show up and become one of the boys?
SP – Absolutely, we love Ros.
NF – Simon and I are always keen to make people we haven’t worked with before comfortable on the set from the get-go. Sigourney Weaver, when we did Paul, is a good example. Plus we are all me, she’s very attractive, it was like five older brothers looking out for her. It was very cold when we shot, we did penguin cuddles or group hugs.
Your hair is dyed back blonde from the dark shade you had in the movie.
SP – It’s actually blonder at the moment as I just finished a role in Hector and the Search for Happiness.
You’re both in the upcoming animated film Boxtrolls.
SP – Yes, and we didn’t even know it. We can talk on the phone for 20 minutes and not mention movies.
NF – I had no idea he was in Boxtrolls until later.
What would be your choice of favourite film?
SP – Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Also, Raising Arizona, the Cohn Bros. film. A major influence on my and Edgar’s careers.
NF – Raising Arizona, easily.
Do you ring each other when offered roles independently to get an opinion?
NF – No, not really. We are not a double act as some people think. I like doing various roles.
SP – I get great pleasure in watching Nick’s work; I’m a big fan as well as being his friend. It was delightful seeing Nick as dwarf in Snow White and the Huntsman.
NF – If The World’s End has taught us anything, it’s that friendships evolve on screen and on set.
I assume there is NO Gary King (Simon’s rude character) in you off the set. I did not want to hate Simon Pegg, but I did for the most part. That’s how good your acting is.
SP – Thanks mate, I think everyone has known someone like Gary King in their life, who won’t grow up or lives in the past. He does have redemption of course.
Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World’s End has been named as the Cornetto trilogy; are you over that saying?
SP – No that’s fine; it’s part of the films, and I think when we do another film we will be expected to put in the Cornetto on the fence reference. However, we do have this little box set of films now, and we never took a cent for the free advertising of their ice cream.
The World’s End invades U.S. theaters on August 23, 2013! It’s already playing in the UK and opens in Australia August 1st.
Shane A. Bassett is a contributor for TheYoungFolks.com. Read more about him on our Partners & Contributors page.