Edgar Wright On The World's End And Why Ant-Man Doesn't Make Him A Hypocrite
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 thatís something Iím sure youíre 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, Iíd be impressed, because youíre in a bubble of PR.
Yeah. I donít need to know about the royal baby. Itís ok.
I donít know anything about the royal baby. I know his name and thatís all Iíve got.
I think the full name is Hashtag Royal Baby.
Yeah? I say George/Royal Baby.
They given him a name and yet heís just called the royal baby. His name is George. Letís call him George.
I wanted to ask you about the letter toÖ not the MPAA butÖ
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 weíd even finished the first draft.
Was that the first time youíd had a conversation like that?
Yeah, it was actually. They donít like to call themselves censors, classifiers. People always think itís the British Board of Film Censors, but itís 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, thatís great," and then I texted him and I said, "Hey, is it possible to ask a question whilst weíre writing?" and he said, "Sure, email me and Iíll pass it on." So, I wrote that email, like weíre 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 donít 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 wasnít the wrong context. Itís just they decided like, it wasnít 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 wasnít that funny anyway, so it was like, donít worry about that. Just get rid of that. In fact, the F word actually spoiled Aubrey Plazaís 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, thatís an R-rating because itís a sexual sort of reference and I said, "But heís not saying cock as in genitalia. Heís saying cock as an arrogant person. Heís calling him like an arrogant. 'You are an arrogant dick.'". Iíd 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, itís a cockerel. Thatís a real name of a pub. It actually exists. Itís around the corner from my house. What I didnít realize was, when we tried to clear it for the movie, is that itís the only one in the UK.
Oh, so they got mad about it?
No, we just had to clear it. I think if thereís less than three, less than five, you have to clear it. Maybe if thereís less than three, you have to clear it.
Youíd think that would be like the ultimate. Everybody would want to name their bar that, or at least a gay bar.
Thereís lots of bars called The Cock. Thereís only one Famous Cock, which makes sense.
Now thereís going to be so many more of them, obviously.
Thereís many Worldís Ends. In London, thereís about three, but the thing is, the reason theyíre called the Worldís End, is that usually theyíre on the edge of a town. So, thereís one in Camden, which obviously now, with the massive urban sprawl, it doesnít make any sense, but it used to be the edge of like, Camden town.
Thatís so sad when everything spreads like that.
Well, whatís funny is in the movie thereís 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 didnít 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 Worldís End, which is really called The Gardenerís Arms, you see in the movie at the end of a long street.
Yeah, itís huge.
The reason itís at the end of a long street is because that is the town limits and itís outside of the town limits. Itís the pub outside the dry town.
Nice. Itís like an off-shore boating casino. Did you want to have the momentous looking building for The Worldís 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 magicÖ itís 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) Thatís not going to happen and B) It shouldnít 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 Worldís End, was like "Letís build a set, letís 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 Worldís End obviously.
Worldís End and the Beehive and Hole in the Wall, but all of the other ones are real.
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