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Hollywood is known as the epicenter of the film industry. It’s where a large sum of movie studios and high-profile actors dwell. But it’s also the home of a surging homeless population often seen living in tents on backroads all over Los Angeles County. The City of Angels has the highest amount of people without homes in the United States other than New York City. Mission: Impossible and Star Trek actor Simon Pegg witnessed this firsthand during the filming of his latest movie, Lost Transmissions.
In between his big-budget projects, Simon Pegg signed on to writer/director Katharine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions. Inspired by a true story the filmmaker personally dealt with, Pegg plays a music producer whose life turns upside down when his schizophrenia begins to take over his life. Just after he’d come off working on massive franchise films such as 2018’s Mission: Impossible - Fallout, the actor spent 20 days in Los Angeles filming this independent project which was shot completely on a handheld camera.
When CinemaBlend spoke to the Hot Fuzz actor about Lost Transmissions, he discussed his experience working around the homeless in Los Angeles. In his words:
We filmed in Silver Lake, downtown and Skid Row, we reached out to the community down there and they were really welcoming and helpful. It was a surprise to find out that a lot of filming takes place down in Skid Row but they rarely actually approach the community down there… it was very enlightening to be down there and hear their stories. They’re just people, all of them. People who’ve found themselves living in a tent on the side of the road – not for any reason other than their life had come to that point.
As Simon Pegg explained during our interview, although other productions have been about places like Skid Row, oftentimes they don’t tend to reach out to the community they are highlighting at all. Katharine O’Brien’s small-budget flick did involve the community in the filmmaking in order to tell a more authentic story about the almost 60,000 people who are affected by homelessness in Los Angeles. Pegg continued to talk more about Lost Transmissions's message:
Theo goes from being a functional member of society to being homeless in like four days and I think hopefully if you watch this movie and next time you’re in the street and see some poor soul standing on the street corner yelling at the sky, you don’t just think they’re some sort of outcast. You think well that might be someone with a family and their life might have been perfectly normal two or three days ago.
Simon Pegg’s latest role is certainly a 180 from his typical lighthearted roles in fare such as Shaun of the Dead. After spending a good part of his career in comedy, the actor said he was looking into a different kind of role when Lost Transmissions came his way. The movie allowed him to flex his dramatic chops and be part of a significantly different shoot than he’s used to, along with discussing the important topic of the treatment of mental health in our society.
The actor is set to return to a back-to-back Mission: Impossible 7 & 8 shoot next alongside Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff and Nicholas Hoult. However, filming has been delayed due to coronavirus concerns in Italy. In our interview, Pegg called it a setback, but a “necessary one” to make sure everyone is safe amidst the pandemic. The film was going to shoot in Venice, Italy, where the death toll has risen to over 800.
Lost Transmissions also stars Maleficent’s Juno Temple and Baywatch’s Alexandra Daddario. The movie premiered at Tribeca Film Festival last spring, and it hits select theaters and will be available on digital/demand on March 13.