Shaun Of The Dead. Hot Fuzz. The World’s End. Now, with the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy now complete, and the ice cream almost melted from the cone, Empire sat down with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright to get the real scoops for a very special podcast. Taken from that 75-minute slice of fried podcast gold, here are some of the things you may not have known about the three films...
1 As they prepared Shaun Of The Dead, Wright and Pegg had never written together before. They insist they were very studious in the process, though, and relied heavily on Syd Field's book, The Definitive Guide To Screenwriting: "We would try and match the events in the movie to his act chart... The reason why we read all these books was because we'd never written a film before." Pegg admits Spaced was more unconventional and anarchic, so writing a film proved to be a very different experience: "We were just curious to see if those rules did apply, and they did. And really good, well-structured movies that genuinely satisfy you – Raiders, those kinds of films that just leave you thinking, 'Oh, that was great' – tend to have a development which is fairly uniform... We basically discovered that we weren't going to write three consecutive sitcom episodes – we had to write a different kind of animal." - - - - - -
2 Wright is still angry that his first feature, A Fistful Of Fingers, got one star from Empire (since bumped up to three). "Thank you [then Reviews Editor] Caroline Westbrook! I haven't memorised the review. The only nice thing that it said was, 'There's just enough talent in the director to predict that he might be ashamed in the future...'" Not that he's holding too many grudges today: "I think when I made that film – which is very, very silly – I had a sort of a moment when I'd made it, afterwards when I was editing it, when I suddenly realised I'd committed something to film and there was no way back... I realised the big difference between an amateur film and a professional film – and I was very much still in the amateur camp." - - - - - -
3 Pre-Spaced, Wright directed French & Saunders' Titanic-themed Christmas Special way back in 1998. "It seems bizarre when that's on UK Gold, and I go, 'Oh yeah, I shot that...'" 4 When they were writing Shaun, Pegg was a lot more optimistic than Wright. "I just assumed it would get done. Edgar was obviously more in touch with [long-time producer] Nira Park... and reality." The film was initially developed at Film4, but the company had to give it up, forcing the duo and Park to pitch it to other (hopefully) interested parties, including Working Title. Wright remembers it as a very tense year, not knowing if the project would happen at all. In the end, Simon and Edgar were in Iceland (the country, not the frozen food shop) just before Christmas in 2002, when they got the call from Working Title that Shaun was going to get made. They started shooting the following March. - - - - - -
5 Wright still owes Pegg £600 from that period – perhaps explaining the same debt Gary repays to Andy in The World's End. At that point, Wright was heavily in the red, having turned down various TV offers just in case Shaun got the green light. His landlord even reduced his rent for him. But it was all for the best, as Pegg reflects: "It just shows how in certain situations with getting films made, you have to hold your nerve. If you don't, these chances slip by, and thank goodness [Edgar] did." - - - - - -
6 Nick Frost not only waited tables between series 1 and 2 of Spaced, but even after series 2.
7 By complete coincidence, Shaun was released very close to the 2004 remake of Dawn Of The Dead (above), causing slight alarm for Wright. He went so far as to get hold of a script of the remake, just to make sure they weren't doing anything too similar. There was one element that happened to be in the scripts for both films – a jogger, who would have become the only running zombie in Shaun – so Wright quietly removed it... only to find no trace of it in the finished Dawn either. - - - - - -
8 The internet saved Shaun's (American) bacon. Initially, the film was destined to go straight to video in the USA, until the buzz started to build. "It's fair to say that the internet buzz in the States, on websites like Ain't It Cool, got it a [theatrical] release in the US," Wright admits. - - - - - -
9 They found writing their second Cornetto installment surprisingly tricky. As Pegg remembers, "Hot Fuzz was like that difficult second album. The initial draft for Hot Fuzz was like 185 pages long. It didn't have the leanness or the economy of Shaun Of The Dead... It was a much more strenuous sculpting of the first draft down to something leaner." By the time The World's End came about, Wright says they found the process a lot easier: "Of the three scripts, The World's End was the most fun to write. It'd been in our brains for so long that when we actually turned on the tap it just came all flooding out." 10 Wright was asked to be in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (above), but declined – "I have the hair, but I do not have the body." - - - - - -
11 They're not allergic to improvisation (see: "Smashy Smash Egg Men"), but it's not at the heart of how they make their films. Pegg thinks it has something to do with Wright's stylish directing: "One of the key films that was an influence on us was Raising Arizona. And when I watched that film when I was a kid, I realised that the directorial style of the movie was almost like a character in the film... That's the thing with our films: Edgar's directorial style is like a character. We have to be in line with Edgar's directorial style – and that's not a burden on us, it helps us enormously." - - - - - -
12 If Wright had his way, it was going to be called Hott Fuzz. He didn't see eye to eye with Pegg, who was mostly apprehensive of being asked about the extra t in every Q&A he would do subsequently. Eventually Edgar relented, and the one t stuck: "I think that was always the top title – the only other one was Blue Fury, but Hot Fuzz just jumped out more." Meanwhile, Shaun Of The Dead was originally titled Teatime Of The Dead, while The World's End never changed. It was a name close to their heart, as they had a lot of history at the Camden pub of the same name, including filming the alley gunfight in Spaced next door.
13 Wright shares a birthday with Hitler. BREAKING NEWS: Wright has subsequently contacted us to say that he was born two days before the German dictator. Well, two days before and 85 years afterwards. - - - - - -
14 Originally The World's End was going to end with Gary King going back in time to rejoin his younger friends. It was to be in the third act, but in the end, Wright decided, "It just felt like it was too late to introduce that. And if you're going to make a film about time travel, it may as well be the entire film." In addition, it felt a little too similar to Back To The Future Part II and Hot Tub Time Machine, so it was scrapped in favour of Gary roaming the land with his younger blank friends. - - - - - -
15 Wright used to scream with disgust every time Pegg made out with Rose Reynolds when filming The World's End. You'll have to listen to the podcast for the full effect... 16 They're proud of smuggling in a certain honesty and sadness within the three films. This is one of the things Wright's most happy with: "There is a Trojan horse element to these movies. We're able to put so much of ourselves in there. Everything in there is from our lives. We've been there. We've been those characters." - - - - - -
17 When The World's End was being cast, someone at the studio got a little worried that Paddy Considine might not be handsome enough to play Steven, the romantic lead. "To be fair," Edgar adds, "they were thinking of him mostly in Bourne Ultimatum, where he's quite downtrodden." On his wrap gift, Wright wrote to Considine, "You were awesome and handsome." - - - - - -
18 Wright has a voice cameo in The World's End. Listen out for him as Gary wanders through Steven's building site, when a digger drops its bricks. It's Wright who shouts, "Oh, for fuck's sake!"