Before embarking on a national tour to promote The World’s End, our favorite trio stopped by San Diego Comic-Con. The highly-anticipated film reunites director Edgar Wright with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as best friends who along with a few others (looking at you Martin Freeman) attempt a pub crawl that becomes more than they expected.
Edgar on the sci-fi inspirations behind The World’s End:
Definitely shows like Doctor Who, The Avengers (Bill Nighy’s). It’s literally in my DNA in a strange way rather than be like ‘Hey let’s do a film about guys reuniting for a pub crawl’ and not like pick sci-fi out of a hat. The idea literally came from the fact that when I used to go back to my hometown… I would start to feel like it was slowly changing and I remember saying ‘It just feels like body-snatchers.’ It just feels like everything’s changed and then literally that’s the movie. To take one of those paranoid sci-fi films, the social science-fiction genre and to marry it to like a real emotion that you feel and the bittersweet kind of notion of going home and sort of like ‘I feel so completely alienated in my hometown.’ So it’s really sort of the two things went together.
In the film, Simon’s the rowdy friend while Nick is more serious. Simon discussed their new character dynamic:
I spent six years giving Nick Frost all the best lines and I just thought I’m gonna do it for myself from now on. I wanted Gary to be a figure of chaos and disruption — unlikable to the point of irritation because at the heart of him is a desperate tragedy. I think sometimes we can get sick of people in our lives who need help because they’re behaving in a certain way but maybe it’s because they have deeper needs that you don’t understand. That’s Gary, he’s the Tasmanian devil. But if he stops for a second there’s something deeply affecting and sad about him which we’ve always relished doing. There is always a moment in our films where we let real emotion come up for a bit. We stop the comedy and let reality come in a little bit. I think comedies that exist purely on their own jokes often run out of steam a little bit. If a joke fails the whole thing falls apart because what else is there other than joke, joke, joke? So if you hang the comedy on some real people and some real stories, real issues, a structure, 3D characters, then you can stop the jokes occasionally. You can let it be what it is which is a story of relationships.
Nick on playing the straight man for once:
You still can get laughs on screen. I think you can be straight and still be funny. Just meant I didn’t have to prat around as much.
Simon on Edgar’s famously hidden jokes and gags:
We’re pretty meticulous in how we write. We’ll start with the big picture and a plan. This time was to make a picture that was 105 minutes long—which ended up being 109. We paced it in terms of incidents over time, this has to happen in the first 10 minutes, this in the second 10 minutes and what have you. We start off with a big long story. We know exactly where it’s gonna end, where it’s going to start and where it’s gonna get to. Then within that we can start creating foreshadowing and callbacks. So we see that in the distance. We start big and get smaller and smaller and smaller.
Nick on Martin Freeman getting slack for his Hobbit role on set:
Brinks man, like a security van came in to do a night drop outside where we were filming and Paddy Considine said ‘Your Hobbit residuals turned up, Martin!’
Frost on the movie’s relationship with Cornetto ice cream:
They gave us Cornettos for the premiere of Hot Fuzz and we joked ‘If we put them in the second one we can get free Cornettos.’ But they didn’t give us any free Cornettos for the second one. Then we were committed to the ice cream and nothing. I figured we’d have been crammed full with Cornettos.
Edgar on making personal films in an age of the blockbuster:
It’s very difficult because it’s like mid-level which is not like a big budget film. It’s tough. It becomes a challenge in itself. There are compromises you’re expected to make and you really have to dig your heels if you really believe in it. The mid-level film is difficult because we have aspirations to look as good as the big budget film but without the money and that’s kind of tough. The only way you can deal with it is to make sure your money’s on screen.
The World’s End opens in theaters August 23.