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UNSUNG HERO OF THE YEAR

THOMAS LAW AND ZACHARY BAILESS

YOUNG PEGG & FROST OF THE YEAR

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A year that wrapped up the Cornetto Trilogy in Earth-shattering style had Simon Pegg and Nick Frost casting a nostalgic eye back to simpler times in The World's End opening. Doppelganging for Simon and Nick's school-age selves were Thomas Law (aka Young Simon Pegg) and Zachary Bailess (aka Young Nick Frost), two young actors who survived a gruelling audition process, a dodgy dye job and about a million pints of fake lager to emerge triumphant as two of 2013's Unsung Heroes.

Empire Unsung Hero Of The Year: Thomas Law And Zachary Bailess

What did your auditions involve?
Zachary Bailess: At my first audition there was me as young Nick and another guy - not Tom - playing young Simon. There was a big tray with pints of water on it and they just said, "Imagine you've left school and you're in the pub for a pint, and your mate's gone, 'Down that!'" So we did a ten minute audition and downed five pints of water. We came out clutching our bellies.

Thomas Law: Our agent gave us a message: "Wear a trenchcoat and study Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in all their films." That's all we knew until the casting director said, "What you're going to do is leave school, grab your friend, jump on his back, see a girl you like, down a pint, then go onto the next one." And I'm just sitting there going, "Hang on, what was the first thing?"

Bailess: Edgar sat in one of the later auditions. There's a bit in the opening montage when I rip my shirt open, and I had to do that in the audition. He was like, "So, you're going to get pissed off at this guy and you rip your shirt open." It's the first time I've met Edgar Wright and I'm baring my chest at him.

Law: I fell in love with you straight after that. It was brilliant.

What substituted for lager on screen?
Bailess: Coloured soda water with fizzed-up cream soda as the head.

Law: I've never tasted anything so foul in my life. It was so gassy.

Tom, you don't look quite as much like Simon as Zachary does Nick...
Law:
When my agent said I was going for Simon Pegg, I told my family and all of us went, "What?" He's got strawberry blond, well, ginger hair, and I didn't think I looked like him.
No, I know. When my agent said I was going for Simon Pegg, I told my family and all of us went, "What?" He's got strawberry blond, well, ginger hair, and I didn't think I looked like him. So I thought, "I don't know how I'm going to do it." I went for my first audition and there was a guy who was identical to Simon Pegg, so I said to my agent, "He's definitely got it." There were a lot of Nicks there but Zachary looked most like him.

Bailess: We all had prosthetics, though. I wore contacts, because my eyes are blue and Nick's are brown, and had false teeth, because my teeth are more gappy than Nick's, and a fake nose as well.

Young Gary models himself on Andrew Eldritch, the lead singer of Sisters Of Mercy. Was that a deliberate reference?
Law: Yeah. We spent a couple of weeks with the grown-ups to get used to their mannerisms. Simon kindly invited me round to his house and I spent the day with him. He told me how he was a big Sisters Of Mercy fan when he was younger; how he had tattoos but his mum never let him dye his hair. When he came up with the character, he thought, "I'm finally going to dye my hair." So we're both sitting next to each other, getting our hair dyed.

Bailess: They made Tom's hair black and his eyebrows blond.

Law: Honestly, it was the most horrible time of my life.

What did you keep from set?
Bailess: I've got one of my prosthetic noses in a little plastic bag, which looks a bit gross.

Law: I did get to keep the prosthetic Blank head I had to have made on the first day.

Bailess: That's the worst thing anyone's ever got to keep!

What kind of research did you do on your older selves?
Bailess: I'd watched Spaced and I'd seen Hot Fuzz many times, so I didn't have to suddenly educate myself on their work. When Hot Fuzz first came out and they announced that they were eventually going to do The World's End, I remember thinking, "Oh yeah, I can't wait to go see that!"

Empire Unsung Hero Of The Year: Thomas Law And Zachary Bailess

Were there any pub crawls involved?
Bailess: We went for a drink in The World's End in Camden, an inspiration for the film, but we didn't do a pub crawl.

Law: No, we were pretty boring, really.

Did you have a favourite day on set?
Bailess:
I've never been on a film on this scale, and it was an amazing experience with wind machines and cannons shooting paper out...
The scene where we jump into the swimming pool was a lot of fun, even though it was October. Out of shot everyone's standing about in North Face jackets.

Law: I have two. One was when everyone sang Happy Birthday to me in the Blanks' catacombs, but I'll never forget working with Pierce Brosnan. I was so intimidated when he walked into that classroom... my favourite film is Mrs Doubtfire and he's James Bond! Then Edgar dropped the bombshell: "We're going to give you a scenario and you'll improvise," and I'm thinking, "I'm fucking improvising with Pierce Brosnan." In one take our characters ended up being lovers. It ended up with me saying, "Come on, let's just have a night out together." And then it went dead silent, Edgar went, "Cut," and everyone started laughing. Thank God.

And you got to shoot a classic posse stroll leaving school...
Law: That was unbelievable. I've never been on a film on this scale, and it was an amazing experience with wind machines and cannons shooting paper out...

Bailess: They'd call 'cut' and we'd have to run and scoop up this paper for them to throw over us again. (Laughs)

What's next for you both?
Law: We've both got an American agent now, which is half the battle, and she's sending great scripts. Hopefully we'll find something coming from that. It's all very exciting.

Bailess: I've made a low-budget short called As It Happens, which has gone off to some film festivals. I was very inspired by the way Simon and Nick and Edgar write and produce their own things. I'd always wanted to do it, and that was an impetus for me to go, "Yeah, I should do it. Why not?"

Do you still have a copy of the playlist Edgar Wright gave you?
Bailess: Yes. I feel like I'm in the film when I'm driving. (Breaking into rendition of The Soup Dragons) "Yeah, I'm free..."

Law: It's in my car but I'll often hit skip. It gets me down because I wish I was back there.

MORE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE YEAR


KATIE SACKOFF

WARRIOR OF THE YEAR

LYNN COHEN

TRIBUTE OF THE YEAR

LAVELL CRAWFORD

BODYGUARD OF THE YEAR

MARTIN COOGAN

JINGLER OF THE YEAR

MAX MARTINI

BADASS OF THE YEAR

MICHAEL SLOVIS

EYES OF THE YEAR

OF MONSTERS AND MEN

SOUNDTRACK STARS OF THE YEAR

TIM KEY

SIDEKICK OF THE YEAR

TIM WEBBER

MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR

THOMAS LAW & ZACHARY BAILESS

YOUNG PEGG AND FROST OF THE YEAR

Interview by Phil de Semlyen

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