Mark Walters exclusive video interview Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost

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Video interview by Mark Walters




Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost talk HOT FUZZ



Interview by Gary Murray


Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do not look like British actors.  They look like regular blokes going from the pub to the football match.  Edgar Wright does not look like a successful writer/director but like a Literature student going from the pub to the football match.  But Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are British actors and Edgar Wright is a successful writer/director, the creators of Shaun of the Dead and the new film Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz is a British take on the staple of American cinema, the action film.  Simon Pegg plays Angel, a London cop who is so good at his job that he is reassigned to a small town.  The locals have such major crimes as an escaped swan or kids out late at night.  Angel befriends Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) the bumbling son of the police chief (Jim Broadbent).  But Angel starts to notice strange activities, mostly to do with the richest man in town (Timothy Dalton of James Bond fame).  All this leads to an over the top, gun fueled climax.
A few years back, this trio scored a major cinematic hit with the quirky Shaun of the Dead, a comedy/horror hybrid with the catch line "Aim for the head."  Shaun is of a group of ragtag fighters who band together to save themselves from the zombie hoard.  It won acclaims and huge box office worldwide.  It took these three into the spotlight of international praise.  Even the makers of Grindhouse wanted the trio to make a trailer for their loving tribute to low budget 1970's filmmaking.  The trailer is for a fictitious flick Don't.


They are back in Dallas with the new film Hot Fuzz, an action film in the Point Break/Bad Boys school of over the top excess.  The flick had its Dallas Premiere as part of AFI and was introduced by Dolph Lungdren.  For those in the audience who thought it was unusual for the star of Masters of the Universe to be presenting a comedy, the joke comes during the screening.  Simon Pegg's character says "By the power of Grey Skull," a reference to the Masters of the Universe saga.


When asked about coming up with the idea for Hot Fuzz, Edgar said with a laugh, "There was a gap in the market in the fact that there were no other British cop films…at all.  Very few films with a cop in the lead and most of the crime films made in the UK are gangster films.  There are a couple of classic exceptions.  I have always been a fan of cop films injecting a bit of violence, mayhem and amusement."

Added Nick, "British cops aren't perceived as being that cool, particularly uniform cops with funny hats and sweaters."

Simon explained further, "Beat policemen don't carry firearms.  The British policeman doesn't have cinematic prospects.  Even in British cinema it is more of the detectives that get the limelight.  It is more of a procedural detective story, unravel a crime through deduction rather than firing a gun at someone's head."

Edgar finished the explanation; "You take a staple of American cinema--the brash action film--and transplant it into a different context.  I think that in this sort of material the US is better equipped to understand the jokes.  You are seeing a version of your own culture.  I think that American audiences tend to be a bit more vocal anyway.  Americans are slightly less embarrassed by themselves than British people."

Simon Pegg noted that American audiences are louder in a good way.  Director Wright said, "In the UK we tend to get the polite golf clap.  In America, they get into it." 

Since this does make loving fun of the regular British police service, there was a thought of what the reaction of the actual English police would have of Hot Fuzz.  Said Nick of the police response, "So far, so good." 

Then Edgar explained further,  "They liked it.  We interviewed some policemen when we were writing.  We did about fifty interviews.  We went around to tour little stations.  We had a lot of great source material to take from it.  And the way we pitched it to the police, a few of them were skeptical about a comedy.  They thought we were getting in there to get a dig into them.  Basically, we wanted to present something over the top.  Some of the broader antidotes are based on real things, like the escaped swan and the officer buying cakes as punishment.  The scene where the police had to get a translator to talk to the farmer is also based on real incident."

Simon Pegg seemed to take the idea of playing a cop as serious as his character Angel did.  "All the things about Angel being a stickler for police vocabulary is very true.  When we started writing the film the notion of 'police force' became an odd notion now it's 'police service'.  'Force' was deemed a too aggressive word.  There is a rigorous policing of language."  Simon did get hurt a few times while making Hot Fuzz.

Nick Frost worked on his character through observation.  "I went down into the West Country where we were shooting and spent a couple of days with the police down there," he said.  "We did ride alongs with the police and went on patrol in London in quite a dangerous part of the city.  I was surprised by how little crime there was.  Time and time again, the police wished they had a bullet so they could solve the crime."
For Nick the country police enforcement was very different from the city.  "In those kinds of communities the poorer elements are in trouble. The way you have to police those kinds of communities is so careful and measured.  You might arrest someone on Friday and they might be driving you to work on the bus on Monday.  Everyone knows everyone and that is a big deterrent to crime.  You don't want to be embarrassed in front of people you know.  Weird crimes happen in the country; drug abuse and sexual bothering of animals."

With so much source material, the script for Hot Fuzz seemed it would be a breeze but the first draft took eight months.  "It's always tough with a blank page," Edgar said.  "Then we had to immerse ourselves in research materials, interviews and watching lots of films--probably an 18 month period after that.  Then it was another nine months of revisions.  We are very anal about the script.  We work on it with the actors, and then we work on it with Nick for a week.  We go through improvisations but is it done by the time we get on the set."  He did admit that editing was the best part of this project.

Simon Pegg added, "The most important part of it is right before we shoot it, we actually rehearse with the cast.  People have said their lines before they get to set.  I've done films where you are on set with barely a read through and suddenly you are in to it.  It is nicer to have hung out with at least some of the cast.  It helps with the chemistry."

Which brings up the cast.  Hot Fuzz has a stellar gallery of start from former Bond Timothy Dalton to Oscar winner Jim Broadbent.  When writing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright admitted that they have people in mind when they are writing the script and feel fortunate when they get them to sign on to the project.

Simon explained on getting Jim Broadbent,  "(He) came to us at the BAFTA awards and said, 'I loved Shaun of the Dead and the next time you do a film would you consider using me.'  When we began to write the part of Frank Butterman, we went, 'This is Jim's part.'  And we were hoping he felt the same way.  We were all in a bit of awe of the actors we were working with.  Jim really took to Nick because Nick would make him laugh on the set.  He'd almost be on the set ready for Nick to perform."

Nick added, "It was the way a scientist looks at an ape they are about to fire into space.  I am the ape that knows not to touch the bar when it is electrified."

It was a bit different with the former 007.  "With Timothy Dalton," Simon said, "we had shaped this character to be a 'Timothy Dalton' type and it didn't occur to us until late in the process that we could get the real man.  We were thrilled when he said yes and even more thrilled when he came to rehearsals for the first day and said his lines for the first time.  He nailed it.  We were so excited.  It was certainly our goal. 

Dalton sports a mustache in Hot Fuzz.  "He didn't want to grow it," said Simon.  Then Director Wright quipped, "His mustache gives him special powers."  Simon said, "Yeah, like one of those guys like Selleck.  Who is another one?"  Nick popped up, "Hitler."  Simon laughed, "Yeah, he has a mustache and still looks sexy."  The pressroom roared in laughter.

Hot Fuzz was not made by looking for something to parody.   "We don't pull them out of a hat," explained Simon.  "Shaun was because we love zombie films and Hot Fuzz was because we are fans of the action movie.  Something we have grown up on.  The next film might exist within a genre but I don't know.  I don't think Shaun of the Dead particularly satirized zombie films, I think it was a zombie film and a comedy as well.  Hot Fuzz slightly satirizes itself by drawing attention to some of the more extreme cliches and devices used in those movies.  It was made with affection, as a Valentine to those movies.  It is not a critique."

To which Nick said, "We love Homo erotica."

  The characters in Hot Fuzz have an affection for Point Break and the Bad Boys movies.  "They are supremely entertaining and completely unpretentious," said Simon.  "They are proud to be big and dumb. That is why we picked those two. Bad Boys II is an absurd display of machismo and fireworks.  But that is not to say there is anything wrong with that.  Artistically you cannot defend Bad Boys II, like you cannot defend fireworks going off."

Edgar added, "If you have 130 million, why not smash up a bunch of cars.  That's the way to solve the world's ills."

With Shaun of the Dead being such a big hit with a tremendous cult following, there is a push for more zombies in the trio's future.  But these filmmakers have no desire to go back to and retrace their steps.  "We get it not just from the fans but from the studios as well," Wright said.  They are pushed to do sequels and TV versions of Shaun.  "It is even unlikely there will be a Hot Fuzz II," Wright finished.  "You would rather like to take the same sensibility and move on.  You could do a sequel to Hot Fuzz but once you go to 'good ass' to 'bad ass', you can't start the next film."  He used The Matrix sequels as an example, "Where do you go when your lead character has become a god?  Nowhere."

The reaction to Shaun of the Dead in the US was great, but did it surprise them.  Answered Simon, "We were hoping it would do well, gamble that people would get it.  We didn't make any concessions to the American audience in terms of trying to make it more accessible and removing the Britishness.   The cinema audience here is very intelligent and they get stuff.  You don't have to talk down to people all the time and that they are capable of understanding different stuff, knowing and making the connections themselves.  We specifically didn't pander.  That risk paid off.  We did the same thing with Hot Fuzz.  Audiences are constantly underestimated by filmmakers, or at least by people that make the marketing decisions.  They assume that people are dumb and that is a mistake."

But Shaun of the Dead had some revelations for Simon.  He was amazed to suddenly become a toy.  "I was a huge buyer of those when I was a kid," said Simon.

Nick added, "You still are."

Simon also has met himself on the streets.  On Halloween, he ran into a guy dressed as Shaun.  According to Simon, the guy went "Oh my god!" to which Simon answered, "Oh my god!"

Simon did get a bit philosophical about making movies and their message.  "If Hot Fuzz has a message, it is not as much as a social commentary as Shaun of the Dead was.  Dead was about living in the city and your identity.  Hot Fuzz is about saying that it is sometimes okay to switch off your brain and relax." 

Nick and Simon are working on a project in America and all three are working on what Simon called "A third in the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy."

"We make the films we would want to go and see," said Nick.  "We make a film that would make our friends laugh.  So there are lots and lots of people like us."

Visit the official Rogue Pictures HOT FUZZ movie website by clicking here.

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