The hilarity was infectious as we were eating chocolate in the press room getting ready to talk to the director and one of the stars of what is perhaps one of the most anticipated comedies of the summer. In advance of the release of "The World's End", I got the chance to speak with writer/director Edgar Wright and co-star Nick Frost as they wax melancholic about the end of the Cornetto trilogy in this first of a two part interview, the positives of being able to work together for so very long and how it has impacted their friendship and perhaps most importantly where Simon Pegg actually was on this trip.
Sad to see this is the end of an era, and you guys have been on the road for quite a bit now and considering that Simon Pegg isn't here with us and he's taking a break, please feel free to say anything about him that you'd never be able to say to his face. (Room erupts in an awkward, 'aw shucks' type of laughter)
Nick Frost: (Smiles) What do you want me to say? It was actually quite horrible when he left the other day because really it has been just the three of us for about a month now, but now the gang has been split up.
Edgar Wright: We actually end up having the most fun while doing the press, because while shooting an ambitious film like this you can imagine that the stress level is pretty high. To be honest I think our friendship is ultimately the reason we can get through these things because our level of communication has gotten to the point that we don't have to communicate that much... (Throws a bunch of hotel chocolate out on the table)...this is of course my way of ensuring good reviews...chocolate for everyone! (Room erupts in laughter)
Just make it rain man, make it rain...
EW: I'd love to go into a nightclub with a whole thing of chocolate bars...
NF: No, into a favela (Room erupts with laughter)
EW: Just be the Lil Wayne of chocolate...but seriously Simon is amazing and I think the reason we get through these shoots is because not only are we really good friends but these guys are such professionals. I mean I have known Nick for 15 years and Simon & Nick have known each other for 20 years and they are both just amazing and we can all be really honest with one another. I mean if I was doing this script with 6 actors that I didn't know at all, it wouldn't have come together nearly as quickly as it did. It was amazing doing the film and having all these actors around the table just lock in so quickly to feel like they are old friends, partially because some of them are, but even the people that didn't know each other, like Simon and Eddie (Marsan) hit off pretty quick.
NF: I had worked with Eddie on Snow White & The Huntsman along with Toby Jones and as I much as I liked everyone on that cast, he and I just clicked instantly and he got it and it was like we had known each other for years. I knew that Eddie would connect with Simon and Edgar just like we had, it was really great.
EW: We really wanted Eddie Marsan and Paddy (Considine) who had just been so funny in "Hot Fuzz" and Eddie has been funny in so much stuff but they had both been on such a dark strain lately that we wanted to give them something funny. What ultimately ensured Eddie's casting in this film was that I went to see a Q&A for "Tyrannosaur" and Eddie Marsan was asked the question of "What would you like to do in your career that you haven't had the chance to do yet?" and he said have consensual sex on camera... (Room erupts in laughter)...right then I knew that this man needs saving from the darkness! It's nice that both him and Paddy get to play a little against type as even Paddy was essentially playing the romantic lead in this one.
I've really found that your films write male roles and relationships so incredibly well and it is something that we don't often see in the buddy movie genre. Is that something you consciously set out to do over the making of these three films?
EW: I think that is true, and it's probably because we put so much of ourselves into these three films. There is this story about "Hot Fuzz" which is rightly true because people have accused us of not writing enough roles for women, and this is absolutely a true story, we had written in a romantic lead to play opposite Simon and be a foil for his character but the script was too long, so instead we cut the part out and gave all the lines to Nick Frost (Room howls with laughter)...and we hardly had to change a thing! He name was Victoria Flowers and she ran a cake shop Vickie's Cakes. So much of the film was so much from our upbringing, all the John Hughes type stuff was really all us, all personal anecdotes, from the bully and the teacher and Rosamund Pike's character is actually based on someone that I know, and when I told Rosamund this story she actually wanted to go and meet her, but it was an ex-girlfriend of mine from like 1993 so I tracked her down on Facebook and Rosamund got it and she came to the premiere and I got a picture of both her and Rosamund, it was amazing. However in terms of the male relationships we just wanted it to be really honest and I think that aside from the sort of personal experiences side of it all and this happens in the UK as well as Hollywood comedies but with this 'man-child' type of comedy that only just stays on the surface of it all, never really going deeper into the thing and they always end up glorifying it. I wouldn't necessarily say that it was a conscience decision for us to be dark, just a conscience effort to be honest because if you set something up that a character has some sort of problems, you ultimately have to resolve it and we wanted do it in a very surprising way which was really important to us. It's all based on people that we know and people that we are and I think that doing these films from Shaun until now, I think Simon and I have realized that writing them is actually quite therapeutic. There's stuff that we talk about in the film that we probably don't talk about in real life all that much. I see them all as these Trojan horse movies we've made with a zombie movie, a cop movie and sci-fi movie but we actually smuggled in this relationship comedy along the way.
NF: I think we've always said that friendships have to evolve if they are going to survive in the long term, I mean we all have spouses and what not but I think that it is amazing that we really haven't done anything to assist in that evolution. We've gone from being flat mates, to working together and it just has to be that way for things to work or you just become that Gary King character and when you meet them one day you just have that awkward terrible moment of going "So, you all right?" with awkward pauses and I mean F*** all that you know?
EW: There is this scene in the movie, where he has to re-explain "Let's Boo-Boo". That exact thing happened to me and I had a friend that I used to say that with, but I had a friend who always had to remind of the running jokes that we had all through college that had really just GONE out of my head you know. The punch line really is when you have an old running joke, but you just can't remember the evolution or genesis of the joke. Even one of my old friends went to see the movie and he was just going "Oh...yeah" because he had forgotten about the joke himself. I think it's one of those great things to tackle inside the movie because we have been doing these trilogy screenings and someone who had seen all three had said that Shaun is like an old friendship going south, Hot Fuzz is like a first date movie and this is post divorce, just working out those kind of riffs.
Nick, what was your impression when you saw the script for the first time and saw that your role was a little against type from the other films?
NF: You know I honestly don't think that I have a type. I mean I never really trained as a proper actor, and I'm not sure if I'd like to pigeonhole myself into a "type". However I am very fortunate that I was around at the inception of all this especially over the course of the writing process and I'm usually the first person who gets to see the script and I get to make notes on my character and we talk it over. But as an actor, you really want to do as many different things as you can. People assume that a straight man will be an unfunny man it really goes back to something you said about Simon and friendships as well as the ensemble because really we aren't selfish actors in anyway. So I don't mind if I'm the straight man or this or that because you really have to look at the picture and go with what is important for the film even if I don't get as much comedy bits. I may be the straight man in this film, but I really do kick a lot of ass and you have to weigh one against the other...
But have you had consensual sex on camera?
NF: (Pauses)...Yeah...(smiles) (room erupts in laughter)
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost as movie patrons everywhere get ready to experience "The World's End" in theatres this Friday.