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by Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: April 20, 2007.

You 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. 

In a 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 perspective. 

The 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 success. 

Now 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 London 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 films spoofsÖ 

On 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.

I believe the three of you first worked together on the TV series Spaced in 1999. 

Edgar Wright: Yes.  I had worked with Simon before that.

At the time did you think that you would still be together all these years later? 

Nick Frost: (laughs) 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. 

Edgar Wright:  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. 

Edgar Wright: 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 satire? 

Nick Frost: Maybe 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 perfect. 

Edgar Wright: 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.

Shaun 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? 

Edgar Wright: 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 Americaís 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 hands. 

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. 

Edgar Wright: 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 

Nick Frost:  Absolutely. 

Edgar Wright: 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, really. 

So what inspired you to make a ďno-holds barred thrill rideĒ and set it in the sleepy English countryside? 

Edgar Wright: 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 Somerset.  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.  

Edgar Wright: 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. 

Nick Frost:  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 village of Sandford.  What do you do?Ē  Itís the theoretical village that the British police use to train themselves.  Thatís a joke just for the policemen. 

So 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? 

Edgar Wright: 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? 

Edgar Wright: Itís not true.  I dearly wish it were, though. 

Michael Bay Ė talentless hack or misunderstood genius? 

Edgar Wright: (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. 

Edgar Wright: 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 there? 

Edgar Wright: 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. 

Was the hardest part of the role that you had to wear a Bristol [football club] shirt? 

Nick Frost: (laughs) 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 prominently? 

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. 

Edgar Wright: (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 UK.  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 it.

Edgar Wright: 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 to it. 

Nick, since Shaun, 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? 

Edgar Wright: 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?

Edgar Wright: I like editing.  Thatís really my other favorite part of job.  Or, I donít knowÖ  Yeah, I think editing. 

What 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. 

Edgar Wright: 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. 

Edgar Wright: 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 me? 

About you.  About your movies.  WhateverÖ 

Edgar Wright: 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 misconceive me.



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#1 © 2007 Matt Nettheim. Courtesy of Rogue Pictures.  All rights reserved.
#2 © 2007 Matt Nettheim. Courtesy of Rogue Pictures.  All rights reserved.
#3 © 2007 Matt Nettheim. Courtesy of Rogue Pictures.  All rights reserved.
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#8 © 2007 Matt Nettheim. Courtesy of Rogue Pictures.  All rights reserved.
#9 © 2007 Matt Nettheim. Courtesy of Rogue Pictures.  All rights reserved

Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: April 20, 2007.

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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: April 20, 2007.