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Comic-Con 2010

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Panel Report: Paul

Posted on Sunday July 25, 2010, 05:12 by James White in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: Paul

There was drama even before the Paul panel began, as, sometime near the end of the Resident Evil panel, there was a stabbing incident, apparently between two con-goers fighting over chairs. Our innocence is broken…

Still, despite a 45-minute delay, the Paul team arrived to brighten our spirits and make us forget about blood-spilling incidents.

Introduced by the panel’s moderator, the cast arrived to righteous applause. But what do you expect when Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are one stage? Greg Mottola (happy), Simon (mellow) Nick, (triumphant), Jason Bateman (sprightly), Bill H (gawky), Sigourney weaver (big cheers), Jeff Tambor (stately), Joe Lo Truglio (State-ly… because he used to be in US comedy troupe The State. Geddit? Oh, nevermind.), Seth Rogen (some mild cheers, though maybe that was due to leftover Hornet animosity).

Simon got proceedings off to a suitably audience-grabbing style by quickly name-dropping Shaun of the Dead (a trick Nick pulled shortly afterwards).

The pair quickly ran down where the genesis of Paul came from – producer pal Nira Park is partly responsible, having griped during the shooting of the record scene in Shaun that she wanted to film somewhere warm. One quick spit ball session later and the idea of an alien in the desert was born. Eight years later, as Simon says, here we are. The two took a road trip to research the journey taken by the main characters in the film. Along the way, they apparently hit stretches where almost no one was around, excepting, in one instance, an old lady on crutches, hitchhiking. Of course they didn’t pick her up… Safety first.

The rest of the cast were asked about their characters. Bateman is Lorenzo Zoil (think about it) and he’s the government agent tracking down the alien Paul and our two hapless heroes. Bateman admitted he loved being the bad guy. He compares his presence to Yaphet Kotto in Midnight Run, only 100 pounds lighter and with slightly slighter skin. Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio preferred to be seen as Peter Coyote from ET, but you see all of him. Weaver was excited to be a “bad ass”, while Tambor admitted his part, pompous jerk sci-fi writer Adam Shadowchild, “was not a stretch for me.” Seth, meanwhile, quipped that he had trained with Andy Serkis for months and was using advanced technology to jack off with it.

And with that, we were shown some footage, which, if I’m honest, looks fantastic. Fast, funny, action-packed (things fall down go boom), the sizzle real made me extremely excited to see the whole thing. Paul the alien, who looks like a crossed between a traditional “grey” extraterrestrial and the little alien inside “Rosenberg” in Men In Black, is a foul-mouthed delight, with all of Seth Rogen’s comic timing. “Yo, fuck nuts! It’s probing time!” is destined to become a quotable favourite. And his explanation for why Simon’s Graeme Willy can understand him “because I’m talking English, you fucking idiot” is also great. Plus bonus Jane Lynch!

The rest of the panel was devoted to fan questions, which ranged from people asking Simon how he first knew he wanted to act (a blend of his mother and the less-than-serious recollection of the ghost of Shakespeare knocking at his door) to whether the cops from Superbad could face down Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman. No contest folks –the British coppers would f**k their s**t up. But Nick fears for a universe where that can occur. “When police start turning on each other, that’s when the world’s gone crazy. Let’s hope it never happens.”

Con memories (such as Ken Foree cuddling Simon and Edgar), Seth smoking a joint with Ed Brubaker and Method Man (a pot joke from Rogen? Surely not!) and Bill Hader meeting Neil Gaiman as a fan in 2000.

Sadly, all good things must end, and the cast had to leave the stage. But not before Nick’s parting shot. “The Hershey Kisses here are laced with ketamine.” Thanks for that.

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