Interview: Edgar Wright and Nick Frost chat about The World's End
It is perhaps bittersweet for both the cast of The World’s End, as well as fans, for director Edgar Wright, and actor Nick Frost, among others, wrap up their so-called Cornetto Trilogy in dramatic and comedic fashion.
The thematic trio of films that began with the paranormal, ice cream, and picket fences in Shaun of the Dead, and continued in Hot Fuzz, now concludes with The World’s End, with plenty of familiar faces and classic jokes.
“They’re all about the friendships between men, perpetual adolescence, the dangers of that, and the individual versus the collective,” explained Wright while in Toronto ahead of the film’s August 23 release.
The World’s End turns sharply on a supernatural element at about the halfway mark, but not before telling a story of friendship, frayed as it may be. Gary King (Simon Pegg) has not grown up, stuck as a Gothic teenager, ever drinking and continuously blurring memories. He gathers together his old crew, all of whom have matured, and all of whom reluctant to take part in a recreation of an epic pub crawl.
“I just felt that this kind of man-child genre only scratched the surface of things but never really went anywhere deeper” said Wright. “Usually those films about what it’s like to sort of go off and try to be a child forever, always end up glorifying it. They never show any kind of dark side. We never really made a conscious decision to be dark, but an effort to be honest.”
King is especially dark, consistently outlandish and even annoying. He is a tough character to like, egging on his compatriots, and living in the past.
“There’s a scene in the movie where Gary has to re-explain this phrase he made up, “Let’s Boo Boo” and he has to go through the whole genesis of it. That exact thing was me,” told Wright. “I used to say that, and one of my friends, the only thing we had in common at first was that, so he had to remind me of old running jokes from college that were completely gone until he reminded me.”
Pegg is just one key member of an ensemble of actors, many of whom have known each other for a long time, spending time together on camera and off. Pegg starred in the previous two Wright-directed films (and is also a co-writer on all three), and is joined by Frost for the third time, and Martin Freeman for the second time. It does certainly seem like the boys club in this installment, as in the other ones, but it very much works for them.
“It is amazing doing these films and having these actors around the table that really quickly lock into feeling like they’re old friends, and that’s probably because some of them really are,” said Wright. “Even the people who didn’t know each other, like Simon and Eddie Marsan, they very quickly became like they were old friends.”
Joining Pegg, Marsan, Freeman, and Frost is Paddy Considine, who gets his shot at playing a character that is more heroic, and has a bit of a love interest in Rosamund Pike. All five share the screen well, each playing a very different character, but each relishing the role and whatever time they may have.
“We aren’t selfish actors,” says Frost. “I don’t mind if I’m the straight man who doesn’t get as many laughs as Simon because it’s about the film and it’s about Simon, too. You really need to see the big picture and say ‘I may be the straight man in this one, but I kick a lot of ass.’”
And he does. An encounter in the loo leads to a startling discovery, and the film shifts abruptly from a funny yet unnerving dramatic comedy into a sci-fi action thriller – with jokes.
“The actual shooting of it as you probably can tell is really ambitious, and I think one of the reasons we can even get through these shoots is that we’re such good friends that we don’t have to communicate as much,” explained Wright.
The World’s End is named after the bar at the finale of a 12-station pub crawl, and of course nods to the supernatural that envelops the second half of the film, but also of course implies the conclusion of this thematic trilogy. Frost and Wright both recalled the experience as a great one, and doing press with Pegg was just as much fun, and so it is indeed a bit melancholy, but it doesn’t mean they need to get right back to it.
“There’s no rush,” said Frost in discussing what’s next. “If it means we don’t work again together for five, maybe six years, that’s just what it will be, you know? We’ll find something we like, come back, and have a blast doing it.”