Quint and Simon Pegg chat STAR TREK, RUN FATBOY RUN, MCSPACED and much more!!!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I had the chance recently to chat with Simon Pegg on the phone while he was pimping his upcoming RUN, FATBOY, RUN. We talk everything from that film to his loyalties to Nick Frost and Edgar Wright to McSpaced to the real SPACED Region 1 DVD to SCOTT PILGRIM to Scotty and STAR TREK. It’s a tiny interview, but jammed packed with Simon Pegg. Enjoy!
Simon Pegg: Hey Eric, how are you going?
Quint: Hey Simon, what’s up man?
Simon Pegg: I’ve been up since about six o’clock, so I’m really knackered. It’s nice to know… You know Frosty (of Collider) interviewed me earlier on and you get these little breaks in the day where you think “Oh good, I know this guy! It’s going to be alright.”
Quint: Well, I’m going to ask you nothing but personal Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood type questions.
Simon Pegg: Right. Get that dirt!
Quint: That’s all I want to know. I don’t want to know anything about movies or anything.
Simon Pegg: Aint It Cool is really going downhill, isn’t it?
Quint: We have got to follow the money, man! That’s where the money is. (laughs) So, are you doing mostly in person stuff over there?
Simon Pegg: I’ve done a lot of in person, I’m doing a lot of phone now, and there’s a couple of print later on, so it’s a pretty packed day I think, because they have sort of rammed everything into this one day. It’s one of those relentless “one after the others.”
Quint: How are you coping without having Edgar [Wright] and Nick [Frost] there to keep you up and try to crack you up on the phone?
Simon Pegg: Getting undressed? Yeah, I know. Now that the HOT FUZZ DVD is out now, I think “Shit, now everyone who speaks to me on the phone is going to assume that I am taking my clothes off and throwing apples at people” after what was scene on the HOT FUZZ documentary, but those guys encourage that behavior. It’s not my choice. It is weird though actually, it’s weird not having them being around because usually we would do it together and to be isolated is a new experience.
Quint: So without the enablers, you will be on your best behavior then?
Simon Pegg: Absolutely.
Quint: My favorite part of RUN FATBOY RUN was seeing you work more closely with Dylan Moran and you definitely have more of a buddy movie relationship than you did in SHAUN and I’m also a huge fan of BLACK BOOKS, so it was a really great…
Simon Pegg: He’s fantastic and when we were casting it, I had a bit of say in the casting and it seemed to be a good idea to get Dylan in, because we had that preexisting relationship since we were friends anyways. He had obviously been in SHAUN OF THE DEAD, so the idea of working with him was great and also the idea of him actually playing my friend rather than my enemy was nice as well.
I also think it was important for me, because it’s a slightly broader movie. It’s more family oriented and very much a romantic comedy, which is kind of what we decided to do. We wanted to fulfill the criteria that it’s required to make a romantic comedy. In some respect I think it’s easier to take the piss than it is to actually get your head down and do it as it should be, you know and hitting all of those little beats. I thought it would be good to have someone like Dylan in there, because he would, just by his very performance style, just subtly undercut it and just be a little anti-shmaltzed about it.
Quint: Yeah, well he is definitely more cynical and you get that biting humor with his character.
Simon Pegg: Yeah.
Quint: Was it a difficult transition for you to prepare for a story where your love interest is Thandie Newton instead of Nick Frost?
Simon Pegg: (laughs) She just has not got the meat on her bones that Nick has. You know what I mean? She’s hard to get a hold of, but no it was great. Thandie is super cool and I felt very privileged to be playing a man who she would fall for even. I find her to be extremely good fun and she has a great presence on set. I think she had come off doing a couple of really serious movies, like CRASH and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS where she was required to be very straight and just relished being in an environment where there was a lot of messing around going on.
So, yeah it was fun, but yeah I did miss Nick. Nick was obviously… his name came up for Gordon and I was like “No,” because I don’t want for it to be like Nick and I have to do absolutely everything together and there is the stuff that Nick and I do together and I think that is all we should do together, you know? If we start turning up in other people’s films together, people are going to see us as coming as a package, which they kind of do anyway.
Quint: So you think that you will definitely stick with Nick for Edgar and Edgar’s movies?
Simon Pegg: Oh, absolutely and that’s that collaborative group. The basic group behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ is obviously what WORKING TITLE and everyone behind it, but Nira [Park], me, and Nick. That’s the group that those groups come from.
Quint: Was it much different for you leading a film without that support structure? You have been in a lot of films, but I don’t think you have been the lead in a film outside of Edgar’s movies, that I can remember.
Simon Pegg: It was nice in a way. It was kind of like taking a bit of a holiday. I did have writing duties, I did a polish on the script and translated it to a British setting and added some stuff here and there, but it wasn’t like it was mine. It feels like this is Michael Ian Black’s script that I was just brought in to do some revisions on really. I wouldn’t say I was the co-writer, because Michael’s story was already intact and it just needed polishing and revising.
But yeah it’s nice, because you just feel like “OK, this isn’t so much my gig. The pressure is off a little bit.” It’s weird in a way, because as much as I love the movie, when it was a number one in the UK I was watching the box office, because I didn’t want it to beat HOT FUZZ, which is weird, because it’s my film.
I have odd loyalties, like I was nominated at the Empire Awards for both films and I was kind of thinking, “I hope it’s HOT FUZZ, because that’s totally mine,” where as I share this with David [Schwimmer] and Michael and everybody else, so it’s a weird thing when you are kind of pitted against yourself.
Quint: So you are more greedy then? Is that what you are saying?
Simon Pegg: Yeah, greedy!
Quint: So let’s talk a little bit about David Schwimmer and what he was like as a director.
Simon Pegg: He’s done a lot of TV and he’s done theater. I think as a director, he is enormously talented and a lot of that comes from the fact that he is very good with the actors. He is extremely good at second guessing how we are feeling and knowing how we are feeling and that’s important when you are an actor. You want direction and you want it to be sympathetic as much as you can and he definitely had that and you know he was working with a really good DP. There wasn’t any kind of question of him not understanding the techniques of filmmaking, you know, he knew what an F-Stop was and he knew what the lens sizes meant and he knew what dollying left can do to a phone conversation. He was fully aware of the technicalities, so it felt very relaxed in his company as a director.
Quint: That’s cool. Well how does his style compare to Edgar’s or even Abrams’?
Simon Pegg: Everyone is different, you know and Edgar and I have known each other for so long and we have an almost telepathic relationship. I remember if David would come up to us after a take and congratulate us and tell us “Well done” and I kind of looked at him like “What?” because with me and Edgar we would just move on. If we move on then I know he is happy and I don’t need him to tell me that he likes me or if it’s good, because we have got a job to do and it’s to get the film made, whereas it was slightly more relaxed with David. He would come up and laugh.
Edgar is not a complete curmudgeon on set, but he is very, very focused. David was more inclined to come up and give us pros after we did a good take and that was kind of nice. One thing that I think is nice with all of them, JJ, Edgar, and David, is the boundless enthusiasm. There’s a real love of the job. There’s never a moment where you feel, with any of those guys, that they are doing it because it’s a job. They are doing it, because they enjoy it.
Quint: I remember when I came out to visit you guys on HOT FUZZ, I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I definitely noticed what you were talking about with Edgar, where he was just kinda focused. I assume…
Simon Pegg: Even Nick at times will go “Is Edgar alright? Does he not like me?” and he’s known Edgar almost as long as I have and it’s just Edgar’s way. His mind is like a supercomputer when he is working and you just need to let it go and let it compile.
Quint: So I have to ask, can you give me a little taste of Scotty?
Simon Pegg: I can not… even for you.
Quint: Even for me?
Simon Pegg: If it was for anybody, it would be for you, but I’ve got to be careful not to do a Scottish accent anywhere now, because people will just assume it’s Scotty. My wife, obviously as I’ve made known, is Scottish and I have a large Scottish family up in Glasgow, so it’s not like I’m just some English imposter, I do have some connection to the country and I’ve used it.
Also the first AD, Tommy Gormley, on STAR TREK and also MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, is a real dyed in the wool Glaswegian and so having him on set was great, because if my wife wasn’t there, I could defer to Tommy and say “What do you think of this? Is this phrasing right?”
One thing I didn’t want to do is an impression of James Doohan, because I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was making fun of him, you know? If I started doing an impersonation of the actor that played Scotty, that would be doing the part and the actor a disservice, so my intention was to take it as James did when he first picked up the script, and just say “Okay, he’s a physics genius, he’s an engineer, he’s from Scotland…” and approach the character like that and to have my interpretation of it.
Quint: Can you tell me how big of a role Scotty plays in the thing? Is it a significant part?
Simon Pegg: Yeah, and there is very little I can say, because there is a Paramount sniper trained on the back of my head as I speak. He’s on a building and I’m not going to look, because he will know I know he is there, but I worked on the film for five weeks basically, so take from that what you will. The rough and tumble chirpy engineer from Linlithgow is very much in the film.
Quint: Since you have a bigger part in this than you did in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, was there any noticeable difference in how Abrams worked with you?
Simon Pegg: JJ is such a machine, you know? He has got so much energy and enthusiasm and he absolutely loves what he is doing and I think that the key thing that the STAR TREK fans out there, of which I am one, but even the more dedicated ones even, the key thing that they have to remember is the one person that I’m sure they would want to make the next STAR TREK film would be a STAR TREK fan and JJ is most certainly that.
He’s not making this because it’s a business opportunity or it’s a script that landed on his door step. This is something he really, really loves and wants to do and I can’t think of a better person to be at the helm of this project and that’s always reflected in his attitude on set. He is just an absolute… he’s a pitbull. He really is. He’s on it all of the time and kind of… you know there are people on a set to verify things so that nothing is overlooked… nothing out of the universe, because people are always going to be looking for that kind of stuff for whatever weird reason. In some respects there is an odd sense out there that people kind of want it to not be very good to justify that the odds are kind of reluctant that it even exists, but I just think that being a fan of the show and having seen it up close, I’m fucking excited and I’m in it.
Quint: So he’s not “prequeling” it. He’s not going to crush the dreams and hopes of the fans?
Simon Pegg: Absolutely not and what is so exciting is what we are going to see is a STAR TREK movie with contemporary special effects in it. With the special effects that we are seeing now in cinema, that’s going to be applied to STAR TREK. ILM and these companies that can do amazing stuff… It’s going to be fantastic and we are going to see this universe realized more keenly than it ever has been before.
Quint: Are you going to make any appearance at all in SCOTT PILGRIM for Edgar?
Simon Pegg: You know what? I don’t know. Me and Edgar are really funny when we do stuff apart. We never talk about it. We sort of… me and Nick have just written PAUL, which is what we are going to do next, which is the little side project that Nick and I have written, with Edgar is probably going to Exec. on, but won’t direct, but it took him a long, long time to read it and I will occasionally say “So, how’s SCOTT PILGRIM going?” like it’s his other girlfriend when in actual fact I’m fascinated.
I know he has just cast Michael Cera, who I am a huge fan of and it’s going to be great. I am in two minds of whether to say “can I be in it?” or to hang back and not do that and let him do something without me, because I think he also needs to establish himself as a director that doesn’t just do one as much as I and Nick do as actors and also there’s the dangers, as I have said in the past, of becoming his Bruce Campbell and everyone going “Oh it’s the bit with Simon Pegg, do you remember him?”
Quint: You would be the snooty waiter.
Simon Pegg: Exactly yeah. I’m “snooty cameo” in every film.
Quint: What’s the current status on MCSPACED?
Simon Pegg: Only what we have been told, you know? We have released, as you know, our statements to our websites and we just wanted to say where we stood. We owed that to the fans, because they wanted to know what was going on. I’m not interested in entering a public slagging match with anybody, but I stand by everything I said in that statement and it still stands now, so…
Quint: So they haven’t tried to contact you after all of that?
Simon Pegg: They have now, because it’s like “Oh maybe we should,” but it’s a little too little too late really. “You have had this script for a long long time” and I’m sure the first call Robert Rodriguez made when he was adapting SIN CITY was straight to Frank Miller’s home. It was straight to the man. It wasn’t with any talk about any shadowy executives preventing communication and bullshit, because we are not the hardest people to find in the world, you know? Edgar’s got a Myspace page for fuck’s sake… So I have kind of said all I have got to say on it and it was great because Edgar and me, and Jess [Hynes nee Stevenson], all came out to LA to do new commentaries for the region 1 release of SPACED.
Quint: I can’t wait.
Simon Pegg: We had Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, and Matt Stone with us to do special new commentaries and I think Edgar is going to do a couple more on the episodes we didn’t get to with other people as well, so I think it’s going to be very clear to anyone that SPACED has a huge following in America already and that pleases us.
Quint: That’s sweet. Do you know when those DVDs are hitting?
Simon Pegg: In July. We will be at COMIC CON in conjunction with the release.
Quint: I can’t wait man and I will definitely be there with bells on. Thanks for sitting and talking to me, I really appreciate it.
Simon Pegg: Alright Eric, it’s good to hear from you.
Quint: Alright, see you later.
Simon Pegg: Bye, mate.