Catching Up With Edgar Wright After The World’s End
by Brian Walton on November 22, 2013
This week saw the release of Edgar Wright’s phoenomenal finale to the Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End, on Blu-ray and DVD. The films that Edgar has made in partnership with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have done extremely well on home video, thanks to their infectious rewatchability, and The World’s End is no different. The story of five friends brought back together by their former leader in search of his glory days resonates with anyone who has ever had to ask themselves, “Where did I go wrong?”… but in a funny way. We caught up with Edgar to talk about some of the things we loved about the movie on our second and third screenings.
Nerdist: There is a lot going on in The World’s End, but can we start with how great those fight scenes came out?
Edgar Wright: I worked with the same choreographer from Scott Pilgrim and the same cinematographer as well. What was good about doing this one was (that) it was a mix of a lot of the crew that I worked with on Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and also the crew from Scott Pilgrim. There’s an amalgam of styles there, and that’s why. But also, it’s about having the confidence that I can push it a bit further. Also having done the other movie knowing what I can do with actors, you know, like, because on [Scott Pilgrim] people like Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman worked really hard, and I think they’re really good in the fight scenes.
In this one, Simon and Nick and Martin, Paddy and Eddie and Ron were all really up for the challenge. They really wanted to make it look great. Some of them are twenty years older than Michael. The great thing about it is, all credit to the stunt team and their amazing performance, but it’s also like the credit really goes to the lead actors for really pulling it off. I think that’s why, hopefully, those scenes seem really shocking, it’s because, even if you don’t know how films are made, you’re very aware that the actors are doing the fights.
Nerdist: Nick had such presence in those scenes, and it seemed like a weird combination of somebody who knew martial arts and a pro wrestler. Not to dwell too much on the choreography, but did you have a fight style in mind for the individual characters?
Edgar: We had this idea as a way of explaining (why) they suddenly start brawling. Nick’s character, you establish in the prologue that he’s a rugby player. Nick had played rugby and also Nick is a great dancer as well, so Nick does boxing and he dances and he’s just done [Cuban Fury] where he’s salsa dancing, so he actually is very nimble. Even though he’s a bigger guy, he can really move and he’s got real power.
Also, what’s fun: Simon and Nick’s wrestling is what I really love, the WWE and WrestleMania and everything, so it seemed like the idea as they get drunker there’s more Dutch courage involved. We tried to give everybody a play on different fighting styles. Paddy boxes, so he’s always doing big haymakers, or Simon is quick and nimble. Nick felt like rugby and wrestling moves, and Martin kind of scrapping, but it’s more sort of evading.
One of my favorite parts is when Martin does a bit of what we call “Jacket-fu,” like a Jackie Chan-type thing. Where he slips out of his jacket and slides across the floor and he’s actually doing it. It’s great, because he’s not actually aggressive, he’s actually trying to get away. He had really fun choreography. It was actually really fun, and what we’ve tried to do is make each fighter have their own personality.
Nerdist: One of the things I love about your movies is how you take what are known as some western film tropes and apply it to the British films that we’ve all kind of seen in the past. With this film there was one thing that I haven’t really heard brought up, but in some of the fight scenes there were some nice throwbacks to some old westerns. Was that intentional?
Edgar: I guess Westerns have bar brawls and stuff and it’s just a classic Western staple, but I guess you get that in contemporary films too. I mean not so much Westerns, but more of like a bar brawl, generally, you know?
Nerdist: What choices did you make in the writing stage with your partner Simon Pegg that you would have maybe wanted to keep in for yourself but didn’t work?
Edgar: I think we wrote a script with what we wanted to see. If you look on the Blu-ray, actually, there’s this extra where we wrote out the flip chart of all the ideas of the start of the writing process then like two years later we returned to the flip chart and go through it to see how close it is with the film.
What’s fun about doing these films and what links the three films, even though they’re crazy genre pieces, they all have a personal element at the core of it, and maybe Shaun and World’s End are a bit more obvious. That’s what’s fun about them. It’s smuggling this story that’s close to our heart into a genre film. So that way the films can hopefully be enjoyed on two levels, and maybe if it comes to where people watch it a second time and enjoy it even more, that’s good, because you can enjoy it on a couple different layers. I think what’s fun about it is taking the elements, if you make this great drama film with some these kind of things it could be really good, but it’s a high chance that nobody would finance it and nobody would see it, and so to us it’s actually more of a challenge and more fun to smuggle these scenes into something else.
That said, the sci-fi thing kind of goes hand in hand with what the film is about. Because the film is about the loss of identity and whether it’s better to retain your flaws or try to be a perfect human being, and letting go of nostalgia. But that was what was really interesting. We like the idea that the genre completely fits the dramatic story we want to tell.
Nerdist: So in the behind the scenes docs we got to see a little bit of the rehearsal processes. How long did you spend with the actors before filming this, and how strange was it choreographing and rehearsing drinking?
Edgar: That was fun. Well, you can see, if you’ve seen that bit, even just downing pints of water in time, we had to do it in the time of the music because there’s a bit where there’s a Doors track. There’s a bridge of that track where it’s seven seconds long. Can you down a pint in seven seconds? And you can see that Paddy, Eddie, and Nick could do it and me and Simon and Michael could not do it. I could do it in longer, I just couldn’t do it in seven seconds. That was really fun.
I think we probably had… We didn’t have a huge amount of time to rehearse because it came together really fast, eventually. So I think we maybe rehearsed for four weeks or something like that and maybe like two weeks of that intense gist of what we had coming. It was funny because the actors had… it was some strange summer camp where you’d do drama rehearsal, fight rehearsal, clowning and cool stuff, it was really interesting.
Nerdist: How’s your project with Bad Robot and Mark Protosevich coming along?
Edgar: That was something, it was an idea that I came up with that I went and took it to Bad Robot and I didn’t have time to write it myself, and also maybe didn’t have the kind of… the specific brain to actually write it. A different story could be really good. Mark was the person we went to bring it to life. It’s great, because I hadn’t met him before and we’ve become very friendly. I always love that thing that you can meet and collaborate and say, ”Oh, I love him, he’s amazing.” So that’s it, basically, so he’s been working on that at the moment. It was kind of a general idea I had and then we worked on the story together and now he’s writing it.
Nerdist: You’ve worked with two Bonds now; Is there a spy movie that you want to do some day? How do you envision getting the rest of the Bonds in your films?
Edgar: I think we created continuity error. The three films, the continuity you can see, we’re very particular with the continuity. And yet in reality Roger Moore should be in Shaun of the Dead. The only way that a Bond could be in Shaun of the Dead is… we’ll never see a Bond. The only way to do that is if one of the actors in Shaun of the Dead becomes James Bond. It could be Pete. It could be Peter Serafinowicz. It could be Simon and Nick. It could be Bill Nighy… Who could it be?
Nerdist: A Peter Serafinowicz Bond would be very interesting.
Edgar: He’d be amazing, right, he would be amazing.
Nerdist: Well, thank you so much for your time, you’ve been very generous with it.
Edgar: Cool, man. You know that we’re still… the proudest thing in our careers is that we still beat the Nerdist team this summer in bowling, it’s still the proudest thing. I swear to God that’s my favorite bit of press that we’ve ever done. It was so much fun. We were coming from the premiere the previous night and I remember it was 9:00 am after our premiere where like we’ve all been out till three in the morning and we were like, “Oh, my God, we have to do this bowling now.” I remember Nick going, “Whose idea was it to go bowling at 9:00 in the morning after the premiere?” And it was the most fun thing doing it with Steve Jones, so hilarious. I loved it.
The World’s End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally now. Check out our full review of The World’s End.