Anyone who has seen the trailer for “The World’s End” knows that the film’s title refers to more than the name of the final drinking hole on a pub crawl being undertaken by five friends. If you haven’t seen the trailer, well, I’m not going to provide the spoiler. Sure, you could hazard an educated guess. I just think it’s better to remain blissfully unaware. It’s funnier that way.
The trio who brought you “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” – Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – were at the Liberty Hotel in Boston recently to promote “The World’s End.” As with the previous two movies, Wright directs and co-writes, Pegg co-writes and co-stars and Frost co-stars. They are joined this time by Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan. Rosamund Pike provides the love interest.
The film opens in 1990 in the suburban English town of Newton Haven where five teenage boys embark on a lengthy libation excursion. Tragically, they fail in their noble attempt to drink at all 12 pubs. Flash forward about 20 years and Gary King (Pegg), who has become a professional slacker, decides to bring his friends together to finish what they started. Not surprisingly, his now adult former chums, who apparently do not suffer from arrested development, are reluctant to participate in this endeavor, but Gary is very convincing. When the quintet returns to Newton Haven, they discover a secret requiring them to do more than bend their elbows. Hilarity ensues.
For the interview, the three Englishmen, all dressed casually in black, had no trouble unsheathing a sharp sense of humor on subjects ranging from the state of current cinema to, of course, British wrestling.
Asked how the cast was assembled, Pegg quipped, “It was very much like the film. I went around to them all individually, doorstepped them and manipulated them, and then we shot it.” Getting serious, albeit momentarily, he said: “We had these actors in mind to the point where Edgar and I were writing their names in the script before we even actually checked their availability. We went after our Dream Team, really.
“We wanted to work with Martin again because he had been in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ in smaller roles and we wanted him to have a main role in this one. It seemed only right seeing how amazing an actor he is. Paddy, we had worked with before and love. He often plays quite dark, intense characters, but he’s an incredibly gifted comic actor as well so we liked the idea of him playing a sort of soppy, puppy dog character. Eddie only plays abusers and rapists so we thought [he could play] a nice part this time. ... We count ourselves extremely lucky because they are, present company excepted, the cream of the crop.”
As to whether the three would collaborate again, Wright said: “There’s nothing formally in the works at all, although we’d like to work together again. ... When we made ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ we didn’t want to do a sequel to [it]. We wanted to do ‘Hot Fuzz’ and make it like a thematic sequel. Then when we were making ‘Hot Fuzz’ and the idea of a third one came up, we liked that there were ways of linking the three. There are thematic wrap-ups in this movie. Like we dealt with the idea of growing up and the dangers of perpetual adolescence like in the first two movies, and in this one, we made it the central theme of the movie.
“If we do future stuff together, we might do something completely radically different. We wanted these three films to exist as a piece and work as standalone movies.”
FYI, the films are known as the Cornetto trilogy because of a Cornetto ice cream connection. Sorry, no spoiler explanation here either.
Wright also addressed the screwball nature of the comedy in “The World’s End.” “We wanted the dialogue to go really fast,” he said. “The scene with Rosamund and Simon in the [bathroom], once we got a good take, I said to them, ‘Now do it Marx Brothers speed.’ You should never wait for people to laugh. You see movies where (the actors) pause for a laugh. You have to keep powering through and if people laugh over a joke, that’s great. That’s a good kind of problem to have. ‘I couldn’t hear that joke because people laughed over the previous one.’ Fine, go see it again. The thing is you can’t do that kind of screwball, machine-gun dialogue if the performers can’t do it. You have to have a cast that’s really great at doing that.”
He clearly did.
One interviewer arrived late, so when it came time to ask a question, Frost deadpanned, “You only get to ask us a general knowledge question.” The question actually pertained to a belief expressed by the interviewer’s Oxford-educated roommate that the trilogy represents the stalwart nature of English culture in the face of global conformity.
“All three films are very much about an individual or a small group of people facing off against a larger sort of homogenizing force,” he said. “This comes from being on the fringes of various filmmaking and comedy. We prefer the alternative strains than the broader strokes, though there is broad comedy in what we do. We’re also from a very small island in the North Sea, that’s part of Britishness itself. ... It’s always been a fascination of ours and one of the key thematic links [among] the three films – the struggle of identity in the face of hegemonic force. ... It gets taken to its absolute extreme in this one.”