|Pegg, Frost and Wright sit down with Greg Vellante to discuss the final entry in their trilogy, The World’s End|
When filmmaker Edgar Wright broke onto the scene with his critically acclaimed and inspired debut Shaun of the Dead in 2004, he never expected this would lead to a trilogy.
“We didn’t want to make a sequel to Shaun of the Dead, but more of a thematic sequel,” said Wright. “But then after Hot Fuzz, when myself and other people wanted there to be a third, we thought ‘Oh, maybe there is a way to link these.’”
Nearly a decade later and Wright is now unveiling The World’s End, a sci-fi comedy about five friends reuniting for an epic pub crawl that is eventually interrupted by the discovery the entire town has been overtaken by body-snatching replicas.
Linking the three films—now deemed “The Cornetto Trilogy” or “Three Flavors Trilogy” by fans—are different Cornetto ice cream flavors appearing in each entry. There’s strawberry in Shaun of the Dead, blue original flavor in Hot Fuzz, and in The World’s End, mint chocolate chip. But there is far more linking these three films than just frozen treats.
“We always make a joke about the ice cream flavors, which is literally like the dessert topping,” laughed Wright. “But there are actual themes that stretch across all three. Like growing up. Shaun has to grow up and be a man, in Hot Fuzz Nicholas Angel needs to dumb down in order to be a badass cop, and in this one, Gary King retreats into the past. He doesn’t want to grow up. So they all have that theme of perpetual adolescence and taking responsibility.”
The three characters mentioned above have all been played by Simon Pegg, who has also worked as co-writer on all three films along with Wright.
In response to his diversity in playing characters, Pegg admits he was thrilled to achieve more comedic diversity with the role of Gary King in The World’s End, a drunken man-child who drags his friends deep into his despair of arrested development—all while being the film’s wild, comedic anchor.
“In a selfish way, I guess I decided I wanted to be slightly more comic in this movie,” said Pegg. “After playing Nicholas Angel, who is like the most humorless character I’ve ever played and who I found rather difficult to play—I mean, on the DVD you can see me mugging between takes just to release the tension. I had to do so little there, and I wanted to do a character that was the opposite of Nicholas Angel and be very comically dynamic and very proactive.”
Pegg’s roles have often required him to be very reactive against the crazy antics of co-star Nick Frost, the third link in the Three Flavors collaborative team.
In The World’s End, roles are swapped, as Frost’s character remains the straight man for much of the film’s first half, allowing Pegg to have free comic reign.
“[Simon and I] have a natural chemistry but we aren’t aware of it, we don’t work on it. It just is,” commented Frost when asked about the reversal of roles. “And for people to get bored of that would be fairly upsetting. But we are actors, so the chance to play anything other than yourself is what we do, it’s what our job is. So if I have to be the straight man here, or a ballet dancer…”
It was at this point in the interview where Pegg shushed Frost and urged him not to ruin the next movie.
And as promising as Nick Frost playing a ballet dancer may sound, there is no telling what may come next from this endlessly creative storytelling team.
One thing is for sure, though. Just like the characters in their films, Wright, Pegg, and Frost have all undeniably grown up from first film to now.
“These films are like an evolutionary process,” said Pegg. “They’re not interchangeable, they couldn’t have been done in a different sequence. No way we could have done The World’s End first. We didn’t have the life experience or film experience. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End all occurred at different points in our life and specific points in our personal growth.
“We learned a lot as we went, and they could only be in the order that they are in,” Pegg concluded.
“They reflect where we were, and it’s interesting looking back—like a little time capsule of our lives at the time.”