Last weekend, the final piece of The Cornetto Trilogy made it’s way to America when ‘The World’s End’ hit theaters. The story follows Gary King as he gets his four former best mates back together to attempt an epic pub crawl called the Golden Mile, which they unsuccessfully tried twenty years ago. However, when the gang returns to their hometown of Newton Haven, they begin to notice some pretty big changes, like the alien invasion that replaced the citizens with doppelgangers filled with blue stuff.
But prior to the wide release, director Edgar Wright with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost stopped by The Awesome Fest in Philadelphia for a special double feature screening and Q&A session for a theater full of lucky people. The next day, a few members of the press were invited to chat with Frost and Wright about the new film and ScienceFiction.com was right there to join in on the conversation. If you recall, we got an exclusive scoop about ‘Ant-Man’ from that interview, but now you get to see the whole thing in it’s entirety where we learned about what inspired the film, Nick and Simon’s bedroom wrestling match, and some of their favorite pubs.
SF: ‘The World’s End’ deals heavily with nostalgia. Was there ever a time that either of you looked back on and wished you were back in that moment?
Edgar Wright (EW): Well, Nick’s going to have a less sentimental answer than me. But I guess, one of the things that the film’s about or what it’s inspired by is that I do think about the past a lot and I do have frequent attacks of nostalgia, and I wonder why because I consider myself pretty happy with my life and stuff. And I do think back to school a lot and I think back to those times, and pretty much the opening of the movie, the first three minutes where you’re in 1990 is just like a time capsule to me.
I think there’s bad things about looking backwards, it’s silly to want to try to turn back the clock and do things differently because, even if you could have a time machine and try and do better at school or go on a date again, it would have the wrong ramification through history. Good kind of nostalgia is just listening to music and it taking you straight back. I can listen to that Suede song on the soundtrack and remember a car journey where me and my friend had an audiocassette and just sang along to that song over and over again.
Nick Frost (NF): No. [laughter] I don’t know. I’m not sure if it’s lucky or unlucky but I’ve always kind lived in the now, I’m happiest now. My oldest friends are Simon and Edgar so…As a person I’ve always kind of felt and lived with my impulses so I don’t have that thing where “Oh God, I wish I’d told her I loved her” because I probably did tell her I loved her, or “I wish I hit that bully” because I probably did hit that bully. So I’ve never had that thing where “I should have done that then”, I probably did it. I figured it’s the opposite “I shouldn’t have done that then”.
EW: I always think that if I went back in time I would never remember any sort of football wins.
NF: You’d never make any money.
SF: After exploring the horror and action genres with the previous two films in the trilogy, where did the original concept for ‘The World’s End’ come about? And where did the inspiration for the Blanks/aliens/robots come from?
EW: In ‘Shaun of the Dead’, we wanted to put ourselves into a Romero film. What would we do in that situation if we were hung-over Brits with no guns? In this movie, it really is the sci-fi paranoia element is really an amplification of an emotion. And I go back to my hometown and feel disconnected from it, I feel alienated from it. And much like Gary King, it’s much more comfortable for me to accept that aliens have taken over my town that it is to accept than it is to accept getting old, the passing of time, or the fact that maybe the town wasn’t as great as I thought it was anyway. So that’s kind of where that came from.
[With the Blanks] I think we liked the idea of replicants and androids because there was a lot of sci-fi that I grew up with that had that kind of vibe to it whether it’s the Autons in ‘Doctor Who’, ‘The Body Snatchers’, and ‘Bladerunner’ because they give a chance of a sort of change of identity. ‘The Stepford Wives’ is the other obvious one. It seemed to perfectly fit with all of the themes that we wanted to get across. So I’d say the sci-fi element is, much like the sci-fi in horror films that we grew up with, it’s like a metaphor for the emotions in the script.
SF: Nick, this is the most physical role for you out of the three films in the trilogy. What was it like to get in there and kick some serious ass?
NF: I loved it. It was amazing. I love the action in this, and I loved the chance to also unleash my inner Sammo Hung. I think there’s a kind of preconception that big men can’t get shit done in terms of the physical side of stuff and I wanted to blow that myth out the water, essentially.
There was a time in one of the original drafts of the script that Edgar actually had me tearing my shirt off, the whole thing coming off, and me being topless for the rest of the film. I was the only one who said, “Probably shouldn’t do that”
EW: And then when it got into night shoots and minus ten.
NF: Thank you so much for sticking your heels in the sand, didn’t want to do that. But yeah, we trained a lot. We trained for four weeks initially with Brad Allen, who is just an amazing stunt director, fight choreographer. He kind of put us through our paces to see what we could do, what, if anything (in my case nothing), we couldn’t do. And him and Edgar, they designed these amazing fights. And you’d come in in the morning and he’d open his laptop and he’d say, “All right, come and look at this”. And they would put the whole fight together in the rehearsal room with pieces of cardboard, bits of cardboard for stools. And if you were to watch that and watch the fight, they are kind of exactly the same. But the thing about Brad is he’d say, “What do you think? What do you think now?”
EW: “You need to put your performance into it.”
NF: Because we wanted to keep the characters in the fighting. It’s no good creating a character and you just become a slugger as soon as you start the action side of it. We wanted to keep and retain those characters throughout the fight too. And it was fantastic.
Also, I did a dance film before this. So I trained for seven and a half months to be a dancer before I shot any of it on film. So I’m not sure how it would have been if I had done it the other way around, the fact that I could move now, and dance, and make those big long takes quite balletic and quite violently beautiful.
SF: During some of the fight sequences, you pulled out some great wrestling maneuvers. Any tips from the Rock on those Rock Bottoms?
NF: This is going to sound like we’re weird, but Simon and I spent a lot of our mid- to late twenties wrestling in our bedroom. It was kind of ten years later than it should have been. We wrestled a lot at home. He broke my thumb a long time ago and I did like the atomic powerbomb on him. And it did two things. It literally smashed my bed literally to smithereens, and as I stood up my thumb was hanging off. So we were good on the wrestling. That was the thing we didn’t need to be taught.
SF: ‘The World’s End’ takes place in twelve different pubs, so it’s safe to say that you guys did your fair share of research. Where did you get your inspiration for these pubs?
EW: When we wrote the script and we had the twelve pubs and The World’s End was always going to be the last one, and they’re all named after real bars. So when we wrote the story, we always knew we were going to get to The World’s End. Then we named the other bars after things that happened in the scenes. So they’re all real bar names. Even The Famous Cock is a real pub in the UK. It’s around the corner from my house. As I discovered when we had to clear all the names, it’s the only one in the country. I thought it was quite a common name, The Famous Cock. So then we had to clear it with them.
NF: There’s a lot of Cocks, but I think there’s only one famous one.
EW: And it’s Simon Pegg. [Laughter.]
In terms of the design, another thing we wanted to tackle, and is no different to the idea of Wal-Mart taking over in the states, is chains taking over pubs and they are all starting to look identical. I wanted the quest to sort of feel like it was starting to get quite nightmarish in terms of you going through these chambers, going through these pubs is almost like going through these different levels and they are getting more and more identical.
SF: What was your favorite pub from the film?
EW: The Good Companions, the one where we did the doors bit. When you take away our dressing it’s a really nice place.
NF: For me, The King’s Head.
EW: That is a nice one, number ten. In reality it’s called The Arena Tavern, but they’re changing their name to the pub from the film, and keeping the sign. They’re keeping the sign! It’s actually a painting of Simon Pegg, so it’s the funniest thing that that one is changing it’s name to The King’s Head.
SF: Edgar, does it bother you that ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’ didn’t do so well at the box office, yet found an audience later and achieved cult status?
EW: If you’re proud of a movie, which I am proud of that movie, you’ve got to have faith that it’s going to get out there eventually. And to be honest, that’s exactly what happened with ‘Spaced’. It was not a big ratings hit in the UK, but it found an audience on DVD and it’s repeats. I know the cast might feel the same way because we actually did a DVD press tour later in that year, and if nobody was proud of the movie you would have not seen the cast. They would have all run for the hills. The fact that we went out and did more press for it was like, “You know what? We’re proud of this movie”.
And I think the thing is that films are a little bit more complex. Mainstream audiences want to know exactly what they’re getting, and if a film is a little more complicated it’s just a harder job to market it. So that’s that really. I don’t feel bad about it because I feel that people are still watching that movie and still watching it in cinema at movie nights and stuff whereas movies that are made for $300 million dollars leave the theaters and people never think about them ever again.
NF: That’s that thing that we’ve always talked about. I hate this word because I heard it used so fucking much during the Olympics, but it’s about a legacy. If I was a studio head my answer would be different, but do you want a film that makes a shitload of money or do you want a film that people will potentially see forever?
EW: I’ve seen comedies that are very funny. I’ve laughed all the way through it, but I’ve kind of forgotten about it by the time I’ve validated my car in the parking lot. It’s completely gone. Beyond the laughs and the action kind of stuff there might be other things that make you think about it for longer. I think that’s the goal. It’s better to be a sleeper than something that kind of burns out and people are sick of it.
SF: Talking about the future real quick, you and Joe Cornish have been working on ‘Ant-Man’ for a while, but now Joss Whedon has kind of taken away Ultron. I was just wondering if at any point was Ultron part of your story.
EW: I cannot really get into that, but…I’ll say no. No he wasn’t.
SF: Nick, how’s the sequel to ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ coming along?
NF: Ultron and the Huntsman. [Laughter.]
EW: I thought it was a weird choice that Ultron was in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’
NF: I guess it needed that kick… I have no idea. It’s slated for next year, so let’s see. I mean, I can’t wait. I loved working on that film with Eddie [Marsan], Toby Jones, and big Raymond [Winstone], so yeah, I’m happy… End of answer.
And end of interview. As you can see, we had a lot of fun chatting with these two. I’d probably even go so far as to say that this was one of my most memorable interviews. So, now that you’ve gotten a bit of insight on ‘The World’s End’, be sure to go out to see it if you haven’t already. Then, come back here to check out our review of the film to see if you agree with what we had to say about it.
‘The World’s End’ starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Rosamund Pike is in theaters now.