The World's End opened in North American theaters last weekend, concluding what was a long and probably grueling press tour for its three stars-- Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who appear in the film and on the poster, and Edgar Wright, the third man who is, as always, pulling the strings. The three of them have worked together since the late-90s cult sitcom Spaced, and together have created a remarkable comedic trilogy about growing up, starting with the zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, going into the buddy cop parody Hot Fuzz and now concluding with The World's End, which does include robots and alien conspiracies, but is also a whole lot harder to describe as a parody than the other two.
Both insanely funny and sometimes surprisingly somber, The World's End is about having the guts to let go of the past and the people you were with-- even though Wright, Pegg and Frost swear this is far from the last film they'll make together. In a conversation that included a bit on Ant-Man and Wright's theory about what the end of Shaun of the Dead might actually mean, along with a completely surreal delivery of a plate full of bananas wrapped in Saran wrap, Wright also talked about finding The World's End pub in a former Quaker town, the surprisingly happy ending of The World's End, and the incredibly helpful letter he got from the British ratings board while still writing The World's End.
I can ask you about Egypt and you can give your opinion on that, because that’s something I’m sure you’re totally qualified to comment on.
Yeah, I do not want to, I think nobody wants to know what I think about like Arab Spring or anything like that.
Well, if you could even keep up on the news right now, I’d be impressed, because you’re in a bubble of PR.
Yeah. I don’t need to know about the royal baby. It’s ok.
I don’t know anything about the royal baby. I know his name and that’s all I’ve got.
I think the full name is Hashtag Royal Baby.
Yeah? I say George/Royal Baby.
They given him a name and yet he’s just called the royal baby. His name is George. Let’s call him George.
I wanted to ask you about the letter to… not the MPAA but…
Oh yeah, the BBFC.
Yeah. So, it was like, it kind of blew everyone away, because it was like so reasonable.
And also done two years before the film. We were writing it. It was before we’d even finished the first draft.
Was that the first time you’d had a conversation like that?
Yeah, it was actually. They don’t like to call themselves censors, classifiers. People always think it’s the British Board of Film Censors, but it’s the British Board of Film Classification. One of the them, like followed me on Facebook and he said, like, his name is Hammad Khan and he said, I think he got the certificate to Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. I said, "Oh, that’s great," and then I texted him and I said, "Hey, is it possible to ask a question whilst we’re writing?" and he said, "Sure, email me and I’ll pass it on." So, I wrote that email, like we’re writing and we have a question about language, and their response was so great. I said to Simon, "This is the greatest email ever," and it was also extremely helpful.
And polite and full of information.
Incredible, and to their credit, later when the film is out, I said, would you mind if I publish this. I don’t see where I could print your email, like could I publish this. They said, "Absolutely."
Have you ever dealt with the MPAA process at all?
Yeah, that Scott Pilgrim, amazingly got an R rating twice, which for that movie I was thinking, "Really??" and it was one, because at one point we had one F word in there.
Well, you can get one, but it was the wrong context?
Well that was what was bullshit, is that it wasn’t the wrong context. It’s just they decided like, it wasn’t like a sexual use of the F word. It was just kind of, very much thrown away, so they said no to that. That one it wasn’t that funny anyway, so it was like, don’t worry about that. Just get rid of that. In fact, the F word actually spoiled Aubrey Plaza’s joke with the black boxes anyway.
But then the second one, which I argued against and won was the line, "You cocky cock," and they gave an R rating on that line alone. They said, that’s an R-rating because it’s a sexual sort of reference and I said, "But he’s not saying cock as in genitalia. He’s saying cock as an arrogant person. He’s calling him like an arrogant. 'You are an arrogant dick.'". I’d never met them but my argument was, in Britain, the word cock is just calling somebody arrogant, like cockerel, because cockerels are sort of like, because of their plumes.
Like the Famous Cock, the pub, in the movie.
In the movie, it’s a cockerel. That’s a real name of a pub. It actually exists. It’s around the corner from my house. What I didn’t realize was, when we tried to clear it for the movie, is that it’s the only one in the UK.
Oh, so they got mad about it?
No, we just had to clear it. I think if there’s less than three, less than five, you have to clear it. Maybe if there’s less than three, you have to clear it.
You’d think that would be like the ultimate. Everybody would want to name their bar that, or at least a gay bar.
There’s lots of bars called The Cock. There’s only one Famous Cock, which makes sense.
Now there’s going to be so many more of them, obviously.
There’s many World’s Ends. In London, there’s about three, but the thing is, the reason they’re called the World’s End, is that usually they’re on the edge of a town. So, there’s one in Camden, which obviously now, with the massive urban sprawl, it doesn’t make any sense, but it used to be the edge of like, Camden town.
That’s so sad when everything spreads like that.
Well, what’s funny is in the movie there’s two towns that made up Newton Haven, both built in the early 20th century. Letchworth, which is the main one that we use, was built by the Quakers, which meant that it was a dry town and until the 60s, it didn’t have any pubs at all. I think some people in Letchworth thought that it was highly ironic that we were using their town as like the ultimate pub crawl town, because they were famously a dry town. And in fact, the pub is The World’s End, which is really called The Gardener’s Arms, you see in the movie at the end of a long street.
Yeah, it’s huge.
The reason it’s at the end of a long street is because that is the town limits and it’s outside of the town limits. It’s the pub outside the dry town.
Nice. It’s like an off-shore boating casino. Did you want to have the momentous looking building for The World’s End?
Yeah, yeah. It was written into the script and it was something that was really tough to find, Finding one that was on its own that looked cool was really difficult and then, like magic… it’s like sitting there like a UFO.
You can't just build it on the outskirts of some random town.
The first draft of the screenplay is not a million miles away from the shooting draft or what we actually shot, and yet, when we first did the budget, they said, "This film is going to cost 60 million." And it was like, "Oh, no, no, no, no." I said, "A) That’s not going to happen and B) It shouldn’t cost that much." So we literally, like, cleaved it, like more than half to get it like way down, but still pulled off exactly what was on the page. People who have read the script early on, and in fact other directors who have seen the movie, whether it was Guillermo Del Toro or Peter Jackson or Darren Aronofsky, said "I have no idea how you did that in 12 weeks, on that budget," but one of the things is originally, things like that with The World’s End, was like "Let’s build a set, let’s build a facade," because then we can blow it up.
Well, you had to build a set on the inside, at least, no matter what.
Of the 12 bars, 3 of them are sets, and the others are all locations.
Well, The World’s End obviously.
World’s End and the Beehive and Hole in the Wall, but all of the other ones are real.