UTG Interview: Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg Discuss ‘The World’s End’

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This weekend the team of Edgar Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg deliver the [amazing] final chapter of their Cornetto Trilogy to American moviegoers with the release of The World’s End. The film serves as a thematic companion to Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, even though it features none of the same characters, and this morning we’re excited to share some exclusive insight on the film from the creators themselves.

Back in July, UTG was invited to participate in a press roundtable with Wright, Frost, and Pegg at the beautiful Liberty Hotel in downtown Boston. Joined by a handful of fellow movie journalists, I sat at a large round table in a relatively small third floor room for roughly half an hour with the trio, and in that time discussed everything from their creative process to the importance of delivering a trilogy to their fans. Out of respect for the other writers in the room I have chosen to only highlight a small portion of what was discussed, but I think you’ll find it interesting nonetheless. You can read the excerpts below.

I know we are running a review of The World’s End tomorrow written by someone other than myself, but let me just say that as a diehard fan of this creative team I think The World’s End is by far their strongest effort to date. I had tears in my eyes by the time the credits rolled, and they certainly were not brought on from sadness. Grab your best friends, sneak in some tiny bottles of your favorite liquor, and spend this weekend at The World’s End. It’ll be the best night out without a tab you’ve had in months.

Sci-Fi Movie Page: I’ve been describing this movie to friends as a cross between The Big Chill and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Where did this idea come from?

Edgar Wright: It’s funny, because unlike Hot Fuzz where we watched hundreds of movies before, the only movies that me and Simon watched before writing were The Big Chill and the Gene Kelly movie It’s Always Fair Weather. When we made Shaun of The Dead we wanted to make a zombie film, and we wanted to put ourselves in the movie. Hot Fuzz was about the difference between the reality of british police and the fantasy of Hollywood cops. This one came about through taking something in our lives [and adding] the sci-fi element being like a metaphor for something the you upsets us, which is something like your hometown changing without you. In a way, it wasn’t so much like we picked the genre of sci-fi out of a hat, but it was more an expression of that feeling. [MINOR SPOILER AHEAD] I remember telling a friend that I go back to my hometown every Christmas, and every time I go back a lots of the things that happen in the movie would happen to me, like the chains taking over [the pubs]. The thing with the bully not recognizing [character omitted], that actually happened to me, and I remember I was sort of bummed that he didn’t recognize me. It annoyed me more than if he actually did. And I remember saying to a friend of mine that it’s changing without you and there is nothing you can do to stop it, and I remember saying ‘O I feel like every time I go home it’s like ‘Body Snatchers.’ In a similar way to how Gary deals with it, you’ll notice in the movie that when Gary finds out about what’s going on that he’s happier to leap to that conclusion than he is to getting old, or the idea that the town might not be as nice as he thought it was. So really, what’s really nice is that like the sci-fi we grew up on we use that genre element as an amplification of that bittersweet feeling, if that makes sense.

Examiner: All three of your movies are not connected, none of the same characters, but they really are a trilogy. Why was it important to you to give your fans a trilogy?

Simon Pegg: It was more that we realized right about Hot Fuzz that we could make it a sort of thematic trilogy. People always asked if we were going to make a sequel to Shaun Of The Dead, and we always maintained that Hot Fuzz was the sequel to Shaun Of The Dead, and the way that evolved is that the films sort of became thematic relatives. And when it became apparent to us that we were going to do a third one we thought that we could really wrap up all three films and really consolidate them as a piece by sort of developing things we started in the first two and bringing it all together. It felt like something we wanted to do for ourselves as much as everyone else. It felt like we were being completists…It’s interesting as well just to be able to re-evaluate ideas and develop them evolve them. And not just so the idea that a joke can work like the fence. The fence is a kind of like superficial binding element, sort of like the ice cream, Cornetto. Each film is about someone having to make a personal change in their lives in the face of an onslaught by a large force. Shaun has to grow up, Angel has to grow down, and Gary has to let go, and that felt like a nice thematic wrap-up.

Nick Frost: It’s not over though, it’s just the end of this trilogies. There are two more trilogies to come. (laughs)

Edgar Wright: We could do the most boring prequels of all time. ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ before the zombies, ‘Hot Fuzz’ before they became police officers, and this one is Gary in a psychiatric facility.

Nick Frost: Pre ‘Hot Fuzz’ would be like ‘Training Day,’ but on bikes.

UTG: All of the pubs in the film are taken from pubs that actually exist, and I noticed in the film that each name corresponds with what’s happening in the film. Which came first, and how did the idea come about? Pubs seem to be a theme in the trilogy.

Edgar Wright: We had this idea that there would twelve steps to the end for Gary, very deliberately. The last pub we knew would be The World’s End. [It's] a real pub, and it’s a place we all used to frequent in North London. Then we wrote the story and we attributed the names to the scenes based on what happens in the scenes. So we had this book of pub names, and some of them are quite common place, but some there are only or two. Like ‘The Famous Cock,’ which is actually around the corner from my house in London, I assumed was a very common pub name, but as it turns out it was the only one and we had to get permission from them. I was always fascinated by pub names because the always sound so flowery and descriptive, even when the actual pub itself is shitty. Some of them have history and some of them are just a stock name, like ‘The King’s Head.’

We like putting things into the film that are like omens. It’s like chapters in a book, and that’s the name of this chapter. There is a lot of that put into the movie as a way of being able to later look at the signs and say ‘Oh I see why this is called ‘The Famous Cock,’ or why this one is ‘The Good Companion.’

Written & conducted by: James Shotwell (Follow him on Twitter)

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