Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
April 20, 2007.
donít expect to find a big-budget action blockbuster settling down in a
tiny, quaint British village. However, donít tell that to Simon Pegg, Nick
Frost and Edgar Wright.
few years, this troupe of talented filmmakers has created a splash by taking
some of the most over-the-top film types and adding a laid-back British
trio broke out from the pack and found an international audience with their
2004 zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead, in which the undead congregate
outside a small pub searching for a couple of British slackers (Pegg and
Frost) who are the last hope for mankindís survival. Written by Pegg and
Wright (who also directed), the film was a surprise critical and popular
the three are back with the follow-up, the even funnier Hot Fuzz. In
it, British policeman Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is so prolific at capturing
criminals that he is transferred out of
to a tiny English village called Sandford because he is
making everyone else look bad. When he arrives, people start
dying mysteriously, but the only person he can convince that the
deaths are not
all accidents is PFC Danny Butterman (Frost), the local never-do-well
officer. Together they form the weirdest odd-couple buddy cops
ever while they try to unlock the villageís secret.
The movie is as comic as it is exciting. Just, whatever you do, donít call the
week of the Hot Fuzz premiere in the US, co-star Nick Frost and
director/co-screenwriter Edgar Wright sat down with us to tell us about the
movie, their career and the orgasmic thrill of shooting two guns while
jumping through the air.
the three of you first worked together on the
Spaced in 1999.
Yes. I had worked with Simon before that.
At the time did you think that you would still be together all these years
I donít know the answer to that. I guess it would have been nice to think
that we would have done that. We are all very similar in our sensibilities, what
we like and what we donít like. Weíre all best mates as well. So yes, it
is a wonderful dream.
Well, you know, I would have hoped so. I think the
first time I worked with Simon I felt like I had found my muse. So, yeah, I
definitely would have hoped it. Nick was kind of more of a curveball in a
way, because he came into it later.
What is it about the teaming that works so well together?
Nick Frost: I donít
know. Edgar is a wonderful director and Simon and Edgar write a great
screenplay. Once the three of us get a hold of it
and put it togetherÖ we seem to have tapped into something that people
like. Weíre very honest and we all share a work ethic. We love working
very hard. So that helps.
I think itís we all have the same sense of humor really. We just kind of
compliment each other. Weíre into the same things. So weíre like-minded.
Itís basically as simple as that.
What is it about horror films or action films that make them so rich for
not horror films as such, but the action genre is just ripe for it Ė
straight from the wonderful homo-erotic subtext on Lethal Weapon all
the way up to never having to reload your weapon. Or if youíre running away
from a fireball youíll never be injured. All these little conceits are
Well, in a weird way, we donít even think of them too much as satires of
films. I suppose the idea is that they are more affectionate, in a way.
Itís not like we sit back and say, ďHey, horror films are really stupid.Ē
Itís more that we love those films. Same with action films. It would kind
of be redundant to do just a straight spoof of action films, because not
only have there been so many anyway, but they also spoof themselves. Itís
more our way of reconfiguring what we love about those films and trying to
set it in the UK.
Nick Frost: We donít
like to use the word spoof or parody. We love these films. We love horror
films, too. We like to think of them as love letters to the genre.
of the Dead came out and became a surprise smash. What was it like to be
a part of? How big a surprise was it that it became an international hit and
crossed over the pond, so to speak?
It was amazing. We didnít even know that it was necessarily going to get
released in the US. So, really just the fact that it was released in the UK
was just amazing.
Nick Frost: Itís
very surprising. A lot of films donít even get shown over here. Rogue and
Focus really got behind us and really pushed it. But when youíre on set,
youíre so near to the product itself that you donít think about what was
going to happen a year down the line. Then Shaun of the Dead got
released over here and people loved it. I donít think you ever make films
with a thought in the back of your mind thinking
going to love this. You just have to make the best film you can. Once
youíve finished it and itís edited and itís out there, itís out of your
In certain ways, British comedy is different than US comedy. Why do you think your films that make them universal?
Nick Frost: I donít
know. You know what; I donít think thereís that much difference between
English comedy and American comedy, to be honest. The cultural specifics
are different. I donít know what Tom Landryís hat (the long-time Dallas
Cowboys coach who always wore a cap) is, for instance. But what we find
funny and what America finds funny isnít that different.
I think things are definitely changing with the access of DVDs, the internet
and cable. It [allows] people [to see] international shows. Itís less the
case [now] really. I think itís more the cultural specificities of things
that are different.
Nick Frost: Itís
just that all you see of our comedy is Monty Python and Benny Hill. Thereís
a lot more to us than that. If youíve seen the film, a big guy falling
through a fence is international. Thatís a comedic thing people are going
to enjoy all over the world.
Or a policeman chasing a swanÖ
In the case of Shaun not only was it a genre that US audiences
recognized and maybe thought the responses of the Brits to the apocalypse
was funny. But also, the characters were really universal in Shaun.
Everybody knew somebody like that. With Hot Fuzz, again, itís a
genre that people are so familiar with that re-setting what you usually see
in Bruckheimer films in a tiny English village Ė thereís nothing not to get,
what inspired you to make a ďno-holds barred thrill rideĒ and set it in the
sleepy English countryside?
Mainly because it hadnít been done before. There were no British cop
films. There was nothing even close to a British action film. With good
reason, because it would look faintly ridiculous, as it does in Hot Fuzz.
(chuckles) But that was exactly it, basically.
Nick Frost: Well,
Edgar Ė out of the three of us, heís the biggest film geek. I think he has
a bit of a man crush on Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. And he always
has had. So, he was a massive fan of the genre. A lot of people have
really enjoyed the relationship that Simon and I had onscreen in Shaun of
the Dead and wanted to see that taken a little bit further. The
buddy-action genre seemed right for a double act for a comedy pairing.
Was Sandford based on a real village?
Nick Frost: Well,
we shot it in a place called Wells, which is down in
That was Edgarís hometown when he was growing up. Sandford is I guess based
a little bit on Edgarís hometown. Also, itís sort of an everyplace village
in England. There are a lot of villages like that. Well, obviously without
the murderers and the killings and stuff.
Sandford is shot in my hometown, which should tell you everything. Sandford
Ė the name itself Ė is the name of the town that British police use in
training scenarios. A little police in-joke there.
Sandford is a joke specifically for the British police. Sandford is the
place that is on all British policemenís examinations, you know? For
instance, ďA riot is taking place in the
What do you do?Ē Itís the theoretical village that the British police use
to train themselves. Thatís a joke just for the policemen.
what was it like to shoot two guns while jumping through the air?
Nick Frost: It was
a wonderful dream. (laughs) It was great. Weíre big fans of the
John Woo oeuvre as well, so itís always been a little boyhood
[fantasy]Ö You know what? Firing one gun jumping through the air is
fine. Two seemsÖ itís a little like gluttony. But deliciousÖ
Edgar, did you get to try it?
I didnít. I didnít get to do that until a photo shoot publicizing the
film. Thatís how I got a chance to do it.
So, is it true that there is a point where if you shoot a man in the head it
will just blow up?
Itís not true. I dearly wish it were, though.
Michael Bay Ė talentless hack or misunderstood genius?
(laughs) Now, thereís a question.
Nick Frost: (laughs)
Maybe a little bit of both. After staging an action film ourselves, you can
feel what they feel, you know what I mean? Itís not easy.
You know what? I wouldnít say Iím a major fan of his. Iím more of a fan of
Tony Scott. But, especially having done a film that has some action in it,
you do have an admiration for anybody who can direct action full stop,
because you kind of have to be like a field marshal. Iím a very big fan of
action films anyway, but coming out of this, I have even more respect for
directors who can stage action. There are some of his films Iíd stick up
for. I would actually stick up for Bad Boys II and The Rock.
You get some really great actors for the film Ė Bill Nighy had obviously
been in Shaun
as well, but you added Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine,
Billie Whitelaw, Edward Woodward and others. Does it surprise you that such
huge names want to be on your movie, and what was it like to have them in
It was great. It was just really exciting to have people from different
generations in the same film. That was exciting for me as a director.
Obviously we were big fans of a lot of those actors. Working with them is a
real treat. But, also, just kind of pairing them with younger actors and
having a big ensemble was amazing. Really exciting. I think everybody got
a big kick out of it.
Nick Frost: The
first time we did a read through with everyone in it was a very, very
special moment indeed, (laughs) when we first heard everyoneís part
being read out by these amazing older British actors. We like to think of
them as proper actors, if you know what I mean. But there were a lot
of people on that set and there wasnít one ego amongst them. At all. They
were clever and funny and prompt and just great. A lot of the time, weíd
all be sitting around Ė you know, no one went to their trailers between
shots. Everyone just sat around doing crosswords. Thereís a reason those
people are the best of the best. Itís because you get the whole package.
Theyíre just really clever people.
the hardest part of the role that you had to wear a Bristol [football club] shirt?
Yeah. Yeah. In many ways. Iím a West Ham supporter. West Ham Ďtil I
die. Itís tough putting on another teamís shirt. I guess itís like if
youíre a Yankees fan putting on a Red Sox shirt. It took Ė they had to pull
me out of it and I had blisters and skin lesions and things. They had to
put a lot of talc on me.
Do you think you will ever make a movie which does not feature a pub
Nick Frost: (laughs)
No. Theyíll always have a pub in it. Itís such a vital part of England and
what England is. Not necessarily the alcoholic drunk fighting. Thatís not
England. But the pub is, and has been for hundreds of years, such a focal
point of the community.
(laughs) Hah! You know what? If I was making a film in the UK Ė
probably not. Itís almost impossible because the entire [lifestyle]
revolves around that at some point. Me and Simon are up for another film
which would again involve pubs. I did actually say after Hot Fuzz
through the filmingÖ the pub that we were shooting in, where thereís the big
shootout, is one of the oldest pubs in the
And itís tiny. I did say, oh, man, this is the last time Iím shooting in a
pub. Iím sick of it. But, Iím sure weíll be back.
So what genre do you think youíll take on next?
Nick Frost: Itís
not like we sit there with a hat full of genres and we pick one out. Weíre
doing the Hot Fuzz press
for another month or so
yet. Then Simon and I have written a screenplay which weíre going to start
shooting at the end of the year or the beginning of next. That has a kind
of Sci-Fi tinge to it, Iíd say. Edgar wonít be
directing that one. Itís just going to be Simon and I writing and starring
in it. Hopefully, Edgar will produce and script edit. Then, after that,
Simon and Edgar will get together and theyíll write
the third in the ďBlood and Ice CreamĒ trilogy, which is what weíre calling
There are various things in the pipeline. Three or four exciting things.
Itís just a matter of having a little break after this and just getting down
you have done Penelope and Kinky Boots, Simon made
Mission: Impossible 3 and Edgar did one of the trailers in Grindhouse.
What were those side projects like and did you know youíd be getting back
together for the whole time? Is it weird not working with the buddies?
Nick Frost: Well,
it is, but Simon and I have done quite a lot separately, as well. The
things we do together seem to be the most popular. After doing Shaun of
the Dead Ė I hadnít been acting for very long, you know. Iíd only
really done things with Simon and Edgar. So, for someone, Julian Jarrold,
who is the director of Kinky Boots, to cast me in that was great. It
was a chance to get out and do some stuff on my own, on another film set
with other people. It was great. We spent a month in a place called
Northampton, which was the heart of the British shoe industry in the 20th
and 19th centuries. It was a great, great film to do. With
Penelope, the director of that (Mark Palansky) was a big fan of Shaun
of the Dead. So I didnít even have to cast for it. He just said come
along and just be in the film. Thatís always a treat, when you donít have
to do a casting.
Edgar, how did the trailer in
Grindhouse come about
and how much fun was that?
It was a lot of fun. I got asked by Quentin and Robert back in 2005 to do
it. It was amazing and I just had a real blast doing it.
Nick, if you werenít acting, what do you think youíd be doing?
Nick Frost: Dear
me. You know what? I never really wanted to be an actor. Iíve only been
acting forÖ Spaced was the first time Iíd ever acted. I never wanted
to be an actor or anything. I was a waiter for eight years Ė and a really
good one, too. So, I would have to say if I wasnít acting I would be
assistant deputy floor manager at a Bennigansí-style restaurant.
What about you Edgar? If you werenít writing and directing, what do you
think youíd be doing?
I like editing. Thatís really my other favorite part of job. Or, I donít
knowÖ Yeah, I think editing.
would people be surprised to know about you?
Nick Frost: I am a
virgin. (laughs) What would people be surprised to know about me?
Iím slightly miserable in real life.
That Iím single. (laughs hard) I donít know. Thatís a good
question. That I have never sunbathed in my life. Actually, no thatís not
surprising. You only have to look at me for two seconds to figure it out.
How would you like people to see your career?
Nick Frost: I would
like them to think that I was a nice, funny guy. That would be enough.
I suppose, hopefully what comes across in the two films is our total love
for the movies. I would hope that enthusiasm is infectious.
Are there any misconceptions youíd like to clear up?
Nick Frost: About
About you. About your movies. WhateverÖ
That every scene from Hot Fuzz is a reference to something else.
Nick Frost: Well,
about our movies; theyíre not spoofs. The misconceptions about meÖ I donít
know if there are any. I donít know if people care about me enough to
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