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Copernicus at HERO COMPLEX: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg talk SHAUN OF THE DEAD and future projects


I’m still working through my coverage of the Hero Complex Film Festival.  Last time around, I covered part 1 of zombie night, with THE WALKING DEAD’s Robert Kirkman and DAWN OF THE DEAD’s Zack Snyder.  Later that evening, we were treated to SHAUN OF THE DEAD with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg!


First up – news on new films.  


When asked if there is anything new on ANT-MAN, Edgar Wright replied, “There might be.  I have to give, like a spectacularly vague non-answer.”  He also said in an ideal world he’d do his next movie with Simon Pegg first, THE WORLD’S END, the last in the thematic trilogy with SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, and then do ANT-MAN, but he couldn’t be sure it would work out that way.


On the success of THE AVENGERS, Edgar Wright said it was “nerve wracking,” thinking about trying to follow the biggest opening weekend of all time.  He joked, “I saw Kevin Feige afterward, and I said, ‘How does Shane Black feel?’”  But he also said the movie was “great” and “it was a credit to Kevin Feige,” for having the courage to build a 6 film arc.


About the new STAR TREK, Simon Pegg said, “With the benefit of having established the characters, as they are now, in the last film, we can really hit the ground running for this one.  It starts, and it really doesn’t fucking stop for the whole film.” He also underscored how fun the whole process was, and about how he was geeking about being on the bridge of the Enterprise.  On the set, Simon Pegg said he was talking to Peter Weller about raising kids.  Later, he thought, “I just gave fucking ROBOCOP parenting advice!”


On THE WORLD’S END Edgar Wright said they have “no returning characters… but it makes the other two films part of a trilogy.”  Simon Pegg said that after you see all 3, they will seem like a trilogy, all about, “The struggle of the individual against the collective.” “WORLD’S END is a bit darker,” Edgar Wright said, “and yet also sillier at the same time.”


While it has been called the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, he said that started as a joke in an interview, where he was kidding that he wanted to make something like Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy, only it would be Three Colors Cornetto (a British brand of frozen ice cream cone).  The real truth of why there’s Cornetto in HOT FUZZ is that when Edgar Wright was in college he got “very, very drunk once and had a Cornetto in the morning and felt a lot better.”  So it became his hangover cure. For SHAUN, they liked the idea of doing a film where the lead was hung over for the entire film, and would have dulled reactions.  Then, after they gave out free Cornetto at the SHAUN OF THE DEAD premiere, when they were writing HOT FUZZ he said, “Hey we should write Cornetto again, maybe we’ll get some free ice cream.”  They didn’t get any free ice cream at that premiere, but he said they are trying it again.


As for the origins of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, Edgar Wright said they had done an episode of SPACED that was inspired by one of the RESIDENT EVIL games.  That made them to want to do a whole zombie film.  They thought SHAUN would be the first zombie movie in years (aside from a RESIDENT EVIL adaptation), but then they later found out about 28 DAYS LATER and the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, and were kind of freaked out / worried about how there were so many zombie movies in development all at once. 


To figure out how to write the script for SHAUN, they sat down and watched their favorite movies, like TREMORS, GREMLINS, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (Kaufman’s) and THE BIRDS, to study their structure and figure out when things should happen.


Edgar Wright said they didn’t want it to be a spoof; they wanted it to be funny, but for the drama to be real, and for you to really care about the characters.   The biggest touchstone for the film was AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, “it was really scary, really gory, but also really sweet-natured, and you really cared about the characters.”


Simon Pegg said Romero “should be canonized” for creating the modern zombie, which has seen such a revival lately.  Wright went onto say,  “DAY OF THE DEAD, the third Romero film, kind of remains the classic zombie film.”  The one person’s approval they wanted to get before SHAUN OF THE DEAD’s release was Romero’s.  So they had it screened for him privately at a theater in Florida.  He called them later and Wright said, “He couldn’t have been sweeter about it.” 


He said the first draft of the script was finished on Sept. 10, 2001.  One thing after that, which factored into the film, is that on Sept. 11 he said you’d see the looks on people’s faces who knew, but you’d see other people who were still shopping or doing something else, and still didn’t know.  He said ideas like that were already written into the script, but it was strange to kind of see such a global crisis come true. 


You can find the Hero Complex Blog’s take on the night, with pictures, here.









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