“It’s not over yet. There are two more trilogies,” deadpans Nick Frost.
There’s no question that director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are science fiction fans. From Shaun of the Dead to their newest, The World’s End, they gleefully send up the genre they’ve watched since childhood. And while they have other interests, it’s not going away anytime soon.
Said Frost, as a recent roundtable in Boston, “I’ve got a two year old son, so if it left my system it’s going to come back. What am I going to show them?”
In The World’s End Pegg, Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine are five high school friends nearing forty who reunion to recreate an epic pub crawl of their youth. The goal is to hit (and have a pint) at all twelve pubs in their old hometown, unaware that something very odd has happened since they grew up and moved away.
For director and co-writer Wright it was about “taking something in our lives and using the sci-fi metaphor to express the feeling of your hometown changing.” Added Pegg, “The movie about nostalgia and the dangers of nostalgia.”
It’s been noted that with this film the trio have completed a “trilogy” about modern England (between Shaun and World was the police action spoof Hot Fuzz), all of which are about young men forced to face the real world, even if the real world involves zombies or other unearthly forces. “We’ve been working together since Shaun of the Dead. On [the TV series] Spaced I wrote with Jessica Hynes and then we gave it to Edgar,” explained Pegg, who wrote World with Wright. “We wrote the majority of it while I was doing Star Trek.”
On days he wasn’t involved in playing Scotty he’d be holed up with Wright working on the script. When they were done, it was sent to Frost. “Nick is always the first person to see the script,” Pegg said, with his friend and co-star providing notes and suggestions before anyone else has taken a look. They’re not just being polite to a friend. Frost is part of the production team. “We all have jobs to do on the set as well,” Frost explained of how they operate. “We’re all producers.”
This time out Pegg is the out of control character while Frost is buttoned-down and grown up. This was by design. “I wanted to be the funny one this time,” said Pegg.
Each of the pubs they visit has its own name, some are based on real pubs and some are made up. Wright explained, “We had this idea that there would be 12 steps… literally. We knew the last one would be ‘The World’s End’ which is a real bar we went to in North London.”
Each of the pubs act as chapter titles telling you what’s in store for the characters. (You can see images of all twelve pub signs here: http://kastorskorner.com/wp/2013/07/16/worlds-reveals-12-pub-signs/.) The characters each have to deal with parts of their pasts, including their relationships with each other. “It’s not a time travel movie but alcohol is like a time machine,” said Wright. As the characters get drunker more of their past is unearthed. Some of it is funny, and some of it is sad. “The thing with the bully not recognizing [Marsden’s character] happened to me,” Wright recalled.
Told that their movie plays like a cross between The Big Chill and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Wright and the actors seemed pleased. Wright said that The Big Chill and the Gene Kelly musical It’s Always Fair Weather were two movies they watched to get ideas about the dynamics of reunions of friends. As for the science fiction elements, Wright cites influences like Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars and the British Quatermass series.
To say more might be to give too much away, but they were happy to address one controversy. With The World’s End marked as the end of a trilogy, does this mean the three will be going their separate ways? While there are no immediate plans for another film Frost insisted with a straight face, “It’s not over yet. There are two more trilogies.”
Playing along Wright continued, “The most boring prequels. Shaun of the Dead before the zombies.”
We’ll have to wait and see what they have in store – collectively and separately – but until then, there’s a pint with your name on it at “The World’s End.”
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide was recently released. He lives in Somerville.