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Watching The World’s End – On Set with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

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It feels like a long time ago that we took a trip to Elstree Studios in North West London. How the weather has changed since then! On a freezing cold day we headed to the world famous George Lucas Stage where the legendary director shot parts of Star Wars to visit the set of the new Edgar Wright movie, The World’s End. Third in the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were hugely successful, both at the box office and with fans, and have become cult classics in their own right. Understandably, those same fans are super excited to see this third feature and are hoping that it lives up to their expectations.

Cornetto Trilogy

Edgar Wright was joined on the day by his two long-term collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. As we walked onto the set, we were witness to one of the only pubs to have been shot inside a stage. The pub in question was pretty much destroyed by a car which has smashed through the wall. We were in the dark as to what exactly was happening here, and why this old Ford Granada was embedded into the side of the pub, but no doubt all will become clear in the finished film. Pegg and Frost entered across the stage, with the former decked out in in clothes  resembling a gothic rocker from the 1980s, while Frost was dressed in far more sensible contemporary clothes. Crammed into a tent with a heater to keep us warm, writer/director Wright (who’s next movie will be Ant-Man for Marvel) filled us in to what the movie was about and why Pegg is stuck in the 80s.

“The idea is that there’s a prologue that starts the movie with their teenage versions only making it through 9 of thee 12 pubs. It wasn’t only their best night ever but someone suggesting him that maybe all of his problems since are because of that failed pub crawl. The film is about a guy that was once the cool kid at school trying to re-capture is former glory in increasingly dire circumstances.”

Simon-Pegg-in-The-Worlds-EndAs we continued to watch a few scenes and get more of a feel for the film, not too much became clearer other than the fact that Pegg’s character will do whatever it takes to keep ticking off the list of pubs from his map, no matter what is happening around him. One clue to what may have been going on was a group of youngsters arriving on set with what looked like giant lights attached to their heads. Unfortunately, close examination revealed nothing about the plot or who these youngsters were, but you can see them in the trailer. Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to who or what they are exactly.

World’s End is a somewhat of a departure in in style from the previous films and  Wright talked to us about where the idea first came from:

“It sort of started because… I remember vividly when I suggested  it to Simon…. I had written a script when I was 21 called ‘Crawl’ which was about teenagers on a pub crawl in Somerset and I’d never done anything with it. In 2007 I remember reading about Superbad and reading the good reviews of that and thinking ‘I wish I’d done that kind of Crawl idea sometime’. Then I was sitting on a plane, I think from Wellington to Sydney as I think we’d been doing press for Hot Fuzz. I remember suggesting to Simon and said “what if that was just the prologue then the movie is about adults trying to do the same thing?” So it started off in that thing trying to do that kind of pub crawl that you tried to do when you were a teenager which I tried to do in my hometown and failed miserably. So I actually had that experience of trying….. I think Wells where we shot Hot Fuzz has 13 pubs and I think after 7 I was complete blackout. I actually had a bad, crazy night so it was sort of inspired by that and every town had a version of it.

So that’s where the inspiration came from and like most of our stuff, it’s partly based on people we know. I guess Shaun was based on ourselves,  Hot Fuzz is based on a place we grew up in and this is going back to the shadows of ourselves … more from our darker sides.”

If you’ve not already seen it, Edgar Wright’s featurette below will fill you in much more on the sets used in the movie and why the director’s cast and crew love working with him so much.

After we all geeked out about being in the George Lucas stage, and Pegg informed us that their production office was the kitchen in The Shining and that the Millennium Falcon was shot in another part of the stage, he expanded on the final part of his trilogy:

“The way in which this evolved into a trilogy was a combination of things. We always planned to do a series of three movies but we didn’t realise how much of a trilogy it was going to be until we wrote this one. It really ties together the first two films. It doesn’t exist the same universe but a lot of the themes the same ideas that we’ve always been interested in like the one against the many. Also the British pub as icon of British culture and it all comes back in this times a thousand.”

“Story wise, it’s about five guys who return to their home town to recreate a legendary pub crawl on the behest of my character Gary who manipulates each one of them in a very specific way to get them to come back and things don’t go quite as planned!!”

Pegg and Wright also spoke about what it was like coming back together with the team they had used to shoot Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.

Pegg: “It was slipping on a pair of comfy shoes. We never not challenge ourselves in terms of what we’ve got to work with. It’s not like things have gotten easier because we’ve got a bigger budget. It’s still as hard as it was when we did Shaun of the Dead! Edgar does the same amount of frowning and moustache stroking as he ever did!”

Wright: “It was really fun writing with Simon. It was as easy to write as the film has been difficult to shoot. Simon and I hadn’t written for a long time and we had the idea strewing for four or five years  and the idea kept building in terms of what exactly it was but the germ of the idea was in 2007, and doing something with the old script that I did; which I eventually showed to Simon, he hadn’t read it until recently and I couldn’t re-read it. Reading a comedy that you’ve written when you’re 21….. Weirdly the only person who’d read it was Matt Lucas who I know when I was that age. When the announcement came out in the trades he emailed me and said “oh, you’re making Crawl” and I said “well, the first five minutes are Crawl and then it turns into something else!”

Martin-Freeman-Paddy-Considine-Simon-Pegg-Nick-Frost-and-Eddie-Marsan-in-The-Worlds-EndWright talked about getting the right people for the five main roles, all played by well-known British actors:

“We’ve always been really lucky….. in the case of Paddy [Considine] and Martin [Freeman], we’ve worked with them before and there’s a bunch of people who’ve been in the other two. Martin, particularly as he’s played a supporting role in the other two and we wanted to have a bigger role this time. Eddie [Marsan], I hadn’t worked with before but Nick had worked with him and they got on really well, he was the only person out of the main five that I hadn’t worked with.”

Pegg gave us his thoughts on how the film industry has changed ever since making Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and how they would mock Martin Freeman after he landed the biggest role of his life in the Hobbit trilogy with Peter Jackson:

“The fact is the film industry has changed so drastically even since Hot Fuzz, not even since Shaun of the Dead, it’s not even the same landscape that it was. For a film like this which can expect to make a certain amount Domestically in America and a certain amount overseas, there are certain territories in making that sum which don’t exist anymore. France, Spain, those kind of markets have diminished a bit but China and Russia have opened up and what they want to see are big action films. The idea of a big budget quirky British comedy; this is the last one that will ever be made if things don’t change. We’re not able to have the right amount of resources that we want, it’s no one’s fault, no one’s denied us , it’s just the way things are. As difficult as that is sometimes, it makes you think on your feet.”

“I’ve been on films where money isn’t an issue so things can be solved later. The big joke with Martin Freeman being on this film is that WETA can solve it [In a Kiwi accent] “We’ll get Richard Taylor at WETA to fix it!” It’s great to be back together, this is our wheelhouse, and I live 15 minutes from Elstree, it’s a f*cking joy.”

The World's EndHe also talked about how the trilogy is connected, and why they decided to not use too many in-jokes:

We always wanted to round off this thematic trilogy. We knew we were never going to do sequels to the other two so we wanted them to look the same tone. There’s not too many in jokes in this one and there’s some running gags that don’t appear in this one as we thought we’d already done those in Hot Fuzz and you don’t want to seem like you’re doing a victory lap for a third time! ‘Hey, remember that fence gag?!’. There’s a couple of them but not many. We sort of tried to shy away from that; there’s not too many films references either. It’s in the genre but isn’t really nodding to too many things. The genre aspect is almost a backdrop as the characters take over and it’s more like Shaun in that respect.

Nick-Frost-Eddie-Marsan-Simon-Pegg-Paddy-Considine-and-Martin-Freeman-in-The-Worlds-EndWith The World’s End completing the trilogy of movies that we’ve loved so much, it seems like a bit of a chapter closing but both Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

Frost: “I don’t think it means we’ll never do anything together again. We’ve got something lined up in the next couple of years. Obviously I’m going to be Hank Pym in Ant-Man! [Laughs]. I keep winding Edgar up about that!”

“It’s the end of this but it’s the beginning of something else. We don’t know what that is but we’re mates and we like working together.”

Pegg: “Yeah, I’ll keep working with Edgar and Nick until I stop making films. I do feel like finally we’ve completed something. We never made the third series of Spaced which is something we kind of wanted to do but time and circumstance didn’t allow it.”

“This now, we have completed the cycle and whatever we do next will be the beginning of the new cycle or a one-off.”

Frost: “I think it’s also a marker in terms of who we are as people, where we are, and that part of our life in now finished interns of being stoned, high, pissed all the time and that’s over now. I think we’ll still do comedies but we are different people now, we’ve all got families and our focus changes slightly, we’re not all sitting in a house puffing and laughing at sh*t.”

The World’s End is released next Friday 19th July. You can see all our coverage from the movie right here and be sure to keep your eyes peeled next week when we’ll have full video interviews with Edgar, Simon and Nick.