Hot Fuzz – Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost’s cult cop comedy – is ten years old. Longtime readers of the mag will remember an 'Explosive Action Issue' of Empire around the time, which included a chat with Pegg, Wright and Nick Frost on all things action movie. But that was a heavily edited version – now, here, on one easily printed page for your delectation and entertainment, is the full unexpurgated 12,000 word transcript, as Empire's Chris Hewitt sits down with The Fuzz Boy Three and, well... shit happens.
Can you remember the first action movie you ever saw and loved?
Edgar Wright: First one I saw...
Simon Pegg: Fort Apache: The Bronx. I remember watching that when I was young. I think we got it out on video. I think it was just one of those films that you got out on video when it wasn't re-released. I remember the really cool freeze-frame at the end, but I can't remember much else. I always remember the prostitute killing people with a razor blade.
Simon Pegg: That's right.
Edgar Wright: That's Pam Grier!
Anything else that stands out?
Nick Frost: Grease? (laughter) It's not really an action film, is it? I don't know. I know very little, to be honest, about anything. I remember watching, before I met Simon especially, The Taking Of Pelham 123 and watching that and really enjoying it but not realising why I really enjoyed it, because I was quite thick back then. So I dunno... the Lethal Weapon films stick out. I remember those quite early on.
Is there a film that you saw that would make you think it'd be quite cool to do something like that?
Edgar Wright: I think, probably, as a kid you obviously remember all the cop shows like Starsky & Hutch and The Sweeney, but films? I remember Dirty Harry, and having watched all the Clint Eastwood films on TV and having seen all the Westerns and his right-wing fascist avenger mode was something that quite affected me. I loved the idea that he could look funky in a brown suit and a cardigan. I was really taken with his fashions, that he could pull that off and look like the sexiest man alive.
Simon Pegg: Magnum Force, for me. I saw it before I saw any of the others because David Soul was in it and I was a massive Starsky & Hutch fan.
Edgar Wright: Did you find it shocking that he was one of the baddies?
Simon Pegg: Very much so.
Edgar Wright: Did it also confuse you that they were dressed up like the guy from THX-1138?
Simon Pegg: (pause) Yes.
When you were making Hot Fuzz, what inspirations did you gather?
Edgar Wright: I think, definitely it was the late 80s buddy films, everything from 48 Hours to Lethal Weapon to Die Hard. Those are the kind of films that as a teenager I used to really like. I suppose Die Hard is the one that stands out as a true classic and the other ones are very enjoyable. When I was growing up in the West Country, I made on video a cop movie [Dead Right] because it seemed like another boyhood fantasy, playing at cops and robbers. I'm much more interested in cops than gangsters for some reason, and it seemed like when I went to art college, everybody else wanted to make knock-offs of The Long Good Friday and Get Carter and Alan Clarke films, but I was much more interested in making cop films. So there was that wave of films with all the Bruckheimer, Joel Silver films, The Last Boy Scout, things like that and then things like Hard Boiled and though Tarantino hasn't done a cop film, he triggered a whole wave of new crime films. I love that the cop film never goes away, it's a cyclical thing. Every three years or so you get a humdinger, there'll be a drought and then Training Day will come along.
Is it the attitude? The style? What makes them cool?
Edgar Wright: I think every kid goes through that phase of wanting to be a policeman when you're five or six and that goes away when you realise that it's not all it's cracked up to be.
Simon Pegg: When you've been in the force for a couple of years. And you think 'fuck this'.
Edgar Wright: But it was also one of the inspirations for this was that when the British try to do action films or crime films, sometimes it creates this fairytale crime underworld that doesn't necessarily exist or is certainly very stylised, so it was an idea of basically having an English version of one of those slambang American cop films but also doing a cop film rather than a gangster film. We've had 30 years of gangster films, but no cop films.
Nick Frost: Gangsters can't give you speeding tickets. That's a fact.
British action heroes don't tend to convince.
Edgar Wright: It's a very short list.
Simon Pegg: James Bond.
Edgar Wright: Craig Fairbrass in Cliffhanger!
Simon Pegg: Oh, when he takes the penalty with that guy's head. Statham's pretty good!
Nick Frost: The Transporter is alright!
Edgar Wright: Crank is really good. Statham's starting to come into his own. I tell you what I like about Jason Statham, which is quite remarkable is that he's allowed to keep his English accent. That's pretty amazing.
We shut down a town and were firing guns in the main square. That's not work!
I'm not sure they're given much choice!
Edgar Wright: Yeah, yeah, but he's an international action hero who tahks laik that!
Simon Pegg: Yeah, it's like when you go back to Schwarzenegger and Van Damme, who were action heroes who talked with heavy European accents.
Edgar Wright: Again, I don't think they had much of a choice. (laughter)
Simon Pegg: They were accepted, nonetheless. But Statham's being an international action hero. He's extraordinarily athletic but he's also making films where it's more likely to happen, in America. Our thing was wouldn't it be funny to see those histrionics going down in rural England, in sleepy villages, to try and match that high-octane craziness and stick it in a village.
Edgar Wright: When you see the reality of the police, and we did a whole bunch of research for the script. There's a huge gulf between a police constable in Somerset or Gloucestershire or Cornwall or Wiltshire, and that's universally removed from Will Smith running around with his shirt off in Miami.
Nick Frost: Driving around in a Ferrari.
Edgar Wright: The whole farce of trying to make a film out of that paradox.
There's a vacuum to be filled, though, isn't there? A British action hero vacuum.
Simon Pegg: The filming was enormous fun. The most fun I've ever had on a film. It was joyous. We had all the same stresses and pressures of making any film but for me and Nick, particularly, we had the best time.
Nick Frost: We shut down a town and were firing guns in the main square. That's not work!
Edgar Wright: That was part of the thing in terms of the essential vision of it. It's in the country, it's deep in verdant Gloucestershire it's shot in Somerset, it's set in Gloucestershire but all the British crime films you do see, all the gangster films are set on docks. All the car chases are set on docks because that's the only fucking place you can do that, that or RAF grounds. This has lots of different elements, it's got a murder mystery element, a fish out of water aspect and then it transforms into a...
Nick Frost: Love story!
Edgar Wright: Yeah, it has a big homo-erotic love story, and then it finally pupates is that a word? into Bruckheimer territory.
Simon Pegg: In Shaun Of The Dead, our thing was to recontextualise something, to take something that you would normally see and stick it somewhere else, and by doing that you see it a lot more clearly. That's kind of what we've done with this, in that we've taken something you're very used to seeing elsewhere and by sticking it in a sleepy country village, it magnifies all the bullet points, pardon the pun. In some respects, we didn't have to tell that many jokes, it was just that transition alone.
Edgar Wright: Especially in the latter stages, a lot of jokes are just the contrast between the hackneyed lines that they're coming out with and what you're seeing, and all the action clichés in those kind of settings, in a BP Connect service station.
Simon Pegg: Heston Services. Never was there a more appropriately named service station. We had a lot of fun naming stuff, like street names and stuff, but Heston was there and we didn't need to change it.
Edgar Wright: Heston provides the vital third act where our hero decides to tool up and get badass. He's going to get his gun on and go badass.
You mentioned action clichés. Can you talk about your favourite action clichés?
Edgar Wright: It's interesting. Me and Simon read one of those books, Roger Ebert's Great Big Book Of Hollywood Clichés and it was fascinating. It was pretty much all the things you can think of, like endless rounds of ammo and people getting shot and just carrying on without any...
Simon Pegg: Medical help. And it was other stuff like if anyone approaches a microphone, it shall make a feedback noise. Those rules are set in stone.
Edgar Wright: And there are lots of great thriller ones as well. If somebody rings up their boss to say 'I have some information' and he says, 'stay there, I'm coming straight over' it means he is corrupt. Which is like the Hal Holbrook character, always played by Hal Holbrook...
Simon Pegg: The James Cromwell. There was another one as well, that we were talking about. I can't remember, but it was a classic one!
Edgar Wright: There are other ones, the great one is being at a crime scene and picking up a hair and someone goes 'and I think we know who this belongs to!' And then it cuts to the station and the guy's there. Why did they have to start talking there? Why didn't they talk on the way to the station? It's fun doing not just the action stuff or the modern-day Miss Marple clichés.
The best fireball ever is in Better Tomorrow II, when Chow Yun-fat's hair catches fire.
Simon Pegg: One of the best ones was having somebody be accused of something and have that crime laid out for them and at the end of that big summation, have that person go [claps claps].
Edgar Wright: That's in Hot Fuzz. There's a lot of them. The idea is it becomes more clichéd as it goes along. But I have to say, filming a lot of action stuff you do realise why a lot of these things happen, especially in big action movies. We had a chase scene and Simon was wearing his cap and we thought 'he can't wear the cap for the whole of the chase scene, that will look rubbish!' So now he throws it off at the beginning of the chase scene, which looks cool and there's no real internal logic to it at all. I bet on any Michael Bay film the continuity person must be coming up to him and going 'er, Michael, I just wanted to say that in the last shot he had his left hand down and Michael's like 'forget it! Fuck that! Fuck that! Nobody's going to be watching that!' So there's definitely a lot of that kind of stuff that goes on. So if you are a very anal pedant, you'll get a lot out of the film.
Simon Pegg: We realised that it was important to embrace this popcorn logic, that it works, that it's funnier when you fire 20 rounds from one tiny pistol. Then it becomes the joke, it's funnier when you pay less attention.
Are you fans of the major clichés, jumping away from explosions?
Simon Pegg: One of the greatest ones is Homer Simpson when he's at the Candy Show and he gets a can of soda and some spacedust and he shakes it up and then throws it, 'I'll see you in hell, Candy Boys!'
Edgar Wright: A really good running away from an explosion one is in the film Torque, which is the motorcycle version of The Fast and the Furious and a bike explodes and Martin Henderson and Ice Cube are running away from it.
Nick Frost: Say no more.
Edgar Wright: A train is hitting the bike, which has been left on the tracks and there's an explosion worthy of the Nakatomi Plaza.
Simon Pegg: Where did it come from? It sounds like the best joke ever.
Edgar Wright: It just went 'pitttooo!'
Nick Frost: From a bike?
There must be petrol in the tank.
Nick Frost: Pizza everywhere.
Edgar Wright: The person who started the fireball, it's gotta be Die Hard, that's gotta be the first fireball, in the lift shaft.
And the roof as well.
Simon Pegg: Mind you, the one in Return Of The Jedi is pretty good, at the end with the Death Star.
There's a few in Star Wars.
Nick Frost: Star Wars was the silent quaff at first, when it goes [pause] QUAILLLLLL.
Edgar Wright: Starship Troopers has a good running away from the bomb thing, in that cave at the end. Broken Arrow has a good one, too. Basically, any time there's a nuclear device it can be outrun! (laughs) You can run away from a nuclear explosion!
Simon Pegg: Every time this happens, this will happen.
Edgar Wright: The best fireball ever is in Better Tomorrow II, when Chow Yun-fat's hair catches fire.
Simon Pegg: That is a good one.
Nick Frost: Is it such a big explosion that it blows his hair off?
Edgar Wright: Well, he gets knocked forward. I said this to you on the set of Spaced, I think. He throws a grenade behind him and he goes to light a cigarette...
Simon Pegg: Oh, yeahhhh...
Edgar Wright: And it blows up and it clearly knocks him out of shot.
John Woo films are good for clichés, with the twin handguns, for example.
Edgar Wright: There's a good fireball in Hard Boiled, in the hospital ward with the baby pissing on the flames. (laughs) 'You pissed out my flames!' I don't know why that was in Jean-Claude Van Damme's voice!
Simon Pegg: I want a T-shirt with 'You pissed out my flames!' (laughs)
What about hanging onto a building?
Simon Pegg: There's that hilarious one at the beginning of Mission Impossible II.
Edgar Wright: Bird On A Wire has some good hanging action.
Nick Frost: Doesn't Harrison Ford do some good hanging on a rooftop in Paris?
Edgar Wright: Yeah, in Frantic.
Nick Frost: That was good hanging. And that Ian McEwan thing, Enduring Love, there was some balloon hanging.
Edgar Wright: Police Academy IV has some balloon hanging, too. It's not often that you hear Enduring Love and Police Academy 4 in the same breath.
Any hanging sequences in Hot Fuzz?
Simon Pegg: No balloon hanging.
Edgar Wright: What's that thing in Police Academy? The Blue Oyster bar?
Simon Pegg: That's a different kind of hanging.
Edgar Wright: There's no Blue Oyster bar, and there's no jokes about cowhands and big knockers. (laughs) I suppose there's some kind of Tackleberry action of sorts, there's some tooling up.
Ah, another cliché. Commando is a big favourite.
Edgar Wright: That's the bit that Robert Rodriguez does the music for as well. He gets to soundtrack the gun fetish sequence.
Simon Pegg: And every close-up is me.
Edgar Wright: It's true. When we did the gun tooling-up sequence, I became obsessed throughout the shoot that people doing hand doubles were always shit, and so when you get hand doubles, unless they're proper physical performers, they're rubbish. So Simon was really given the guns and I made him do the whole of the tooling-up sequence and you never see his face but that is him doing all the twirling and stuff. What are some of the best tooling-up sequences of all time? Evil Dead II?
Nick Frost: Oh yeah, groovy.
Edgar Wright: Both that and Army Of Darkness.
Nick Frost: Rambo?
Edgar Wright: Rambo's got a big one. Terminator! Aliens!
Simon Pegg: Aliens. I love the fact that there's still gaffer tape in the future.
Nick Frost: It's an enduring product. Everyone needs gaffer tape.
Favourite buddy movie partnership?
Edgar Wright: Freebie and the Bean. One's racist... and the other one's racist. (laughs) It's a weird film. It's quite clearly the precursor to Lethal Weapon, I hadn't realised that there was a film that was that much of a blueprint. The performances are really funny but it's got a really dubious strain of homophobia running through it.
Simon Pegg: Yeah, when they crash into that person's house in the car.
Edgar Wright: James Caan and Alan Arkin are a pretty amazing partnership.
Simon Pegg: Busting is good with Elliot Gould and Robert Blake.
Nick Frost: Every Which Way But Loose!
Edgar Wright: Obviously. Riggs and Murtaugh, obviously. And Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, obviously.
Nick Frost: De Niro and whatisname...
Edgar Wright: Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, yeah.
Nick Frost: I like Martin Lawrence.
Edgar Wright: Martin Lawrence's comedy dynamic is particularly interesting because he hates everything.
Simon Pegg: That's why it's funny when he gets on an E, they did that because it would be the opposite of what he normally was.
Nick Frost: He was afraid of everything in that scene when he did an E.
Edgar Wright: Smith and Lawrence are good fun.
What makes a good team?
Edgar Wright: Being in love with each other.
Simon Pegg: They've got to have good chemistry and secretly be in love with each other. They've got to be each other's rock. And especially when there's antagonism, there's got to be love.
Edgar Wright: What about Dead Heat with Treat Williams and Joe Pis... Piscopo.
Nick Frost: Pasquale!
Edgar Wright: (laughs) Now there's a remake. Dean Gaffney and Joe Pasquale in Dead Heat II.
Simon Pegg: The film that took us from Shaun Of The Dead to Hot Fuzz was Dead Heat.
Edgar Wright: Someone once said that they thought we had been directly influenced by Dead Heat, which I'd like to state categorically was not the case. What about Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans in Last Boy Scout?
Simon Pegg: Or Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard 3.
Bruce Willis and anyone, really.
Edgar Wright: Well, Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker in Striking Distance, not so good.
Simon Pegg: Ah, the motorboat film. River Cops!
Nick Frost: Which film's that?
Simon Pegg: Striking Distance!
Edgar Wright: Never really liked Dragnet, with Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd, that never stuck with me.
Simon Pegg: Dan Aykroyd and Sean Connery, there's a good buddy partnership.
Edgar Wright: One of the worst, I have to say, is Josh Hartnett and Harrison Ford in Hollywood Homicide. I watched it on a plane and tried to walk out, ha ha ha! Are you alright? Have you heard that one before?
Nick Frost: He's perked up.
Edgar Wright: Have you seen Hollywood Homicide?
Simon Pegg: No.
Edgar Wright: It's bad.
Nick Frost: I didn't watch it because you said not to. I take a lot of my recommendations from you.
Edgar Wright: Han Solo and Chewie.
Riggs and Murtaugh are a classic example of that, with the 'I'm getting too old for this shit!' stuff.
Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt in Seven?
Simon Pegg: That's got a lot of layers to it. In buddy partnerships, there's usually a lot of humour even if they're just teasing each other. Riggs and Murtaugh are a classic example of that, with the 'I'm getting too old for this shit!' stuff. But Freeman and Pitt in Seven are really serious and there wasn't any of that stuff there.
What's Nicholas and Danny's partnership like?
Edgar Wright: It's not love/hate. [To Nick] From your perspective, it's love love. You love him at the start and you love him at the end, but you hate him in the middle.
Nick Frost: I don't hate him. I get upset.
Simon Pegg: It's a reluctant marriage in a way. It's an arranged marriage of two people who learn that, by chance, they eventually make the right decision.
Is it love at first sight?
Simon Pegg: It depends. You get one where they're paired with each other from the outset, or you get one where they've been together for a longer time. If you get ones who've been paired from the off, that's better because you get the whole cycle of their lives together.
Nick Frost: I guess a lot depends on how their previous partners died.
Edgar Wright: Dirty Harry, usually his partner dies in each film. Tyne Daly, Albert Popwell, there's another of our favourite clichés. Albert Popwell appears in every Dirty Harry film playing a different stereotype. In the first one, he's a bank robber, there's a brilliant joke in the second one where he's a pimp, in the third one he's a revolutionary, Liberation Army Front kinda thing, and the fourth one he's his partner. In the fifth one, he should have been the Mayor but he's not in the fifth one. We make a reference to Albert in our film as a tribute. But Dirty Harry's partners would always be dead meat as soon as they hooked up with him.
Simon Pegg: The partnership we haven't mentioned is probably the greatest of them all.
Edgar Wright: Which one?
Simon Pegg: Mr. Tango and Mr. Cash.
Edgar Wright: Aaaaaah! Ray Tango! Gabriel Cash!
Nick Frost: That scene is hilarious.
Simon Pegg: Here's two mice and I'm going to show you the plot with two mice!
Edgar Wright: He has an amazing scene where they kind of run out of metaphors for Tango and Cash. Jack Palance picks up two mice and says 'here comes tango, waltzing off with my money!' and 'here comes Cash, he's... after the money!' (laughs) He has mice just to illustrate Tango and Cash because he's going to put them in the maze and set a trap _ 'I'm going to set a trap for Tango and Cash' - and he has a maze on his desk which is purely there to illustrate things for the bloke who's just walked in. 'Hey, check this out'.
Nick Frost: What do the mice do?
Edgar Wright: I'd like to see a sequel where they team up with the mice, also called Tango and Cash. Tango and Tango and Cash and Cash.
Did you watch all these movies in preparation for Hot Fuzz?
Nick Frost: I watched Bad Boys II and that was it, really. Edgar was a great resource for what to watch.
Simon Pegg: We spent a lot of time just watching films and watching Chuck Norris movies which are just hilarious.
Edgar Wright: And even films like Out For Justice, which is actually pretty entertaining. I've always wanted to watch the movie that has the best title of any Steven Seagal film: Half Past Dead.
Nick Frost: Is that the title? Quarter To Dead.
Edgar Wright: Five To Dead. All the lower-rung action stars had some kind of deficiency that would distract you. Schwarzenegger worked around his accent, but Seagal was always a bit chubby and would have to wear long leather dusters. Van Damme had that bump on his head which would always distract the eye.
Simon Pegg: Had no charisma. What about Don The Dragon Wilson?
Edgar Wright: I'm not sure I've ever seen a Don 'The Dragon' Wilson movie. I've never seen a movie with Michael Dudikoff either. He was American Ninja, wasn't he?
Simon Pegg: And Cynthia Rothrock was a man.
Edgar Wright: I have seen that Cynthia Rothrock film where her and Chuck Norris team up. And what's that film, China O'Brien? I might have seen that one. What happened to her? She disappeared.
You were very discerning then when you drew up the list of movies to watch for this. No Michael Dudikoff, no Don Wilson...
Edgar Wright: We tried to rewatch all the good ones, find all the ones we hadn't seen and dip our toes into previously uncharted waters. So watching the cream of the crop of Chuck Norris and Seagal...
Simon Pegg: You were pretty good at rooting out some of those...
Edgar Wright: OK ones?
Simon Pegg: No, the stuff like Hero And The Terror, Silent Rage and those kind of odd 70s ones as well, like Busting.
Edgar Wright: Busting's a good one.
Had you seen all these already?
Simon Pegg: I knew of Freebie & The Bean.
Edgar Wright: I had seen that on TV. Busting is one I'd heard a lot about and I always wanted to see it. It's a good excuse to go trawling around Amazon and start buying lots of NTSC tapes. But there are lots of things I wanted to rewatch like The Super Cops, that I'd seen on TV when I was a kid. In Freebie & The Bean, I certainly remembered a chase scene from that but as a kid I hadn't quite got the homophobia and racist sense of humour, that hadn't quite come across to me as an eight year-old!
Simon Pegg: But now you really appreciate it.
Edgar Wright: Now I really appreciate it! (laughter) I thought that, when I was a little kid, I liked the chase scene and now I just like the homophobic gags.
Simon Pegg: The Super Cops is the one with Ron Leibman.
Edgar Wright: I watched it when I was eight or nine and I remember that vividly because the characters in it are nicknamed Batman and Robin and even when Ron Leibman's undercover as a narc, he wears a bootleg Batman T-shirt which is a white T-shirt with a red Bat symbol. He looks so fucking cool in it. As it turns out, it was written by the guy who wrote the Batman TV series and Flash Gordon, which makes him the greatest screenwriter of all time.
Simon Pegg: And the Flash Gordon T-shirt was, again, red on white.
God, all the Lethals. I watched all the Lethals. What else did I watch? I watched Bad Boys 1 and 2.
It's all cosmic. Nick, you got the list and only watched Bad Boys II. Nothing else, then?
Nick Frost: God, all the Lethals. I watched all the Lethals. What else did I watch? I watched Bad Boys 1 and 2, I watched Point Break.
Simon Pegg: You didn't watch 4, did you, of the Lethals?
Nick Frost: I watched 'em all!
Simon Pegg: We didn't watch 4.
Edgar Wright: I'd seen it already.
Simon Pegg: I got 4 free with my computer in 1999! I'm over that film.
Edgar Wright: 4 is so odd because they used that sax break by David Sanborn so many times that it starts to sound like Seinfeld. Every scene would end with wa-wa-wa-wa!
Nick Frost: Riggs' lament!
Edgar Wright: They so over-used that sax riff in Lethal Weapon 4.
Nick Frost: The sax got its own film, didn't it?
Simon Pegg: Because you weren't writing it, to be fair, you didn't have to be as much...
Nick Frost: No, I got a big pack of DVDs one day before shooting and Edgar said, 'please try to watch as many of these before we start shooting tomorrow'.
Edgar Wright: You watched Training Day. You haven't given it back, in fact!
Nick Frost: I haven't, no. Of all the films you gave me, I've got 'em all! Still!
What was your favourite?
Nick Frost: What's the one with DMX in it?
Edgar Wright: Exit Wounds.
Nick Frost: I fucking loved Exit Wounds. It turns out that DMX is working for the man! I didn't see it coming!
Edgar Wright: What does DMX stand for?
Nick Frost: Does Motocross.
Edgar Wright: His name is Darren Motocross.
Which brings us neatly onto your favourite action star of all time.
Edgar Wright: Oh, Clint Eastwood, easily.
You've got a man crush on Clint Eastwood.
Edgar Wright: I have. I think he's the most handsome man on this earth. He's stayed that. Harrison Ford you could say would be the world's most handsome man but he has not aged as well as Clint. Clint's face looks like Mount Rushmore, in a good way.
Simon Pegg: The older he gets, the more he looks like he should play Judge Dredd.
Edgar Wright: I went to see Million Dollar Baby and watching, on a big screen, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman's faces was like studying an ordnance survey map. (laughs) Because they're so amazing, they have the most amazing lines. In the world of Botox, wouldn't it be great to be 75 and look like that?
Simon Pegg: My favourite look of his is in Unforgiven.
Nick Frost: Heartbreak Ridge! He busts it in that!
Simon Pegg: I have to say, actually, and only because I would contest Clint Eastwood as an action movie star because Dirty Harry is more cerebral, for all its right-wing leanings.
Edgar Wright: More cerebral!
Simon Pegg: Hey, fucknuts!
Nick Frost: What's the dog called?
Simon Pegg: Meathead! We wanted to redub Sudden Impact and just have one line in it for the dog, when he does a fart he goes, 'sorry boss!' and never have him say anything ever again! (laughs)
Edgar Wright: There's also a bit in Sudden Impact when Meathead saves Clint Eastwood and Clint comes back and the dog barks and alerts eastwood to a Mafia badass who's about to shoot him and he says 'Meathead, you just saved my life!' and we wanted to dub on, 'Thanks, boss!'
Simon Pegg: It's called the Meathead Edition!
Edgar Wright: He gets two or three lines.
Simon Pegg: It's digitally remastered in dogspeak.
Edgar Wright: Dirty Harry is very dubious. If you look at his partners throughout the movies, Dirty Harry his partner is Hispanic, Magnum Force his partner is black, The Enforcer his partner is a woman, Sudden Impact his partner is a farting bulldog!
And they all get taught the error of their ways.
Simon Pegg: By being shit!
Edgar Wright: Meathead doesn't die, though.
Simon Pegg: There was a short spin-off series of Meathead movies.
Edgar Wright: Sudden Meathead! It sounds like a sudden toilet alert, like touching cloth!
Nick Frost: Sudden Meathead...
Simon Pegg: Son Of Meathead. [pause] I was going to say Bruce Willis is a favourite.
Nick Frost: Or Arnie!
I watched the first 30 minutes of Commando the other day, and you can't beat that. Well, you can...
Nick Frost: He rolls the Porsche over, doesn't he and it's fine. It works perfectly.
Edgar Wright: It has no set-up that film, does it? It just goes straight into it. His daughter gets kidnapped during the opening titles, pretty much.
Simon Pegg: Then he kills that guy from Mad Max 2 with a big pipe.
Nick Frost: Let off some steam!
Edgar Wright: What's strange about that guy, I don't know the actor's name from Mad Max 2.
Edgar Wright: Why is he wearing his old Mad Max 2 costume?
Simon Pegg: He brought his own. He wore it in Weird Science as well!
Edgar Wright: Is he one of the guys who turns up at the end with Michael Berryman? Oh yeah!
Nick Frost: There's an X-Files with Michael Berryman in it as well.
Edgar Wright: That was the worst thing about the Hills Have Eyes remake. They had to rely on prosthetics for the freaks.
Action films as action films didn't come into it into the 1980s with films like Commando and Rambo.
Bruce Willis... Eastwood... Arnie... they're all stars of the 70s and 80s, really.
Edgar Wright: It depends because action as a genre didn't take off until recently. In the 70s there would be thrillers and cop films but action films as action films didn't come into it into the 1980s with films like Commando and Rambo.
What about Charlie Bronson films?
Simon Pegg: I think you can call those action movies after the fact. The action movie as we understand it now seems to be a modern thing, and it's almost like those films have been boiled down to the key elements and then these films came out which were simply action films.
Nick Frost: If there's a thousand rounds fired, that's it, I think.
Simon Pegg: I am very, very, very excited I was saying to my wife the other day that I am going to be on the cover, sharing the cover of a magazine with fucking John McClane! I'm retiring now. I don't need to do anything else, that's it.
Edgar Wright: Is he John McClane without his receding hairline?
Edgar Wright: I'm very much looking forward to Die Hard 4.
Nick Frost: He wasn't receding in 3, was he? He was bald in that, wasn't he?
Simon Pegg: No, he was receding in 3.
Nick Frost: Wasn't he shaven, though?
Edgar Wright: Did he have a receding wig on in Die Hard 3?
Simon Pegg: I think he did and he should have had one on in 4. He looks like him out of fucking Twelve Monkeys.
Nick Frost: Butterbomb! Sergeant Butterbomb!
Simon Pegg: It's weird. That picture of him walking across the top of the car, if you imagined him with his hairline, you'd freak out with excitement!
Edgar Wright: The other weird thing is he's wearing a leather jacket. He's not in a sweaty vest at all!
Simon Pegg: I think it was a letter in Empire that came up with the best title, Old Habits Die Hard. That's so much better than Live Free or Die Hard. I can imagine why they wouldn't do that because it starts with 'old' but as a phrase it's perfect.
Why not Die Even Harder?
Nick Frost: Die Hardest.
Simon Pegg: I love Bruce very much.
Nick Frost: I'm not a big Arnie fan but he sprang to mind. I guess he fires guns, he throws saws at people's heads in Commando, he throws that big rotating disc, he just hoists it like a Frisbee and chops the top of that guy's head off. He's got it all. Snappy dialogue.
Simon Pegg: I thought Bruce Willis was good because he was one of the first fallible action heroes. In that tradition of the Arnie, Van Damme indestructible robot type, The Terminator was the ultimate, he was one of the ones who would be vulnerable and freaked out by stuff.
Nick Frost: Who, John McClane? I always thought he was very confident about things.
Simon Pegg: Yeah, but he had that thing where even when he was being cool, he was always muttering to himself and he cried.
Edgar Wright: That's the thing. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon came out within a year of each other and even though you had action films before that, with all the James Bond stuff, those were the two films which you really think of as '80s action. But weirdly, Die Hard does have a real build to it. It's still the best by far of those kinds of films because it really isn't like modern action movies. It's not even like Die Hard 2 where there's a big chase every 20 minutes. It's all building up to this climax. Not many films now follow that brief. They have to have something happening every 20 minutes.
That was one of the disappointments of Alien Vs Predator. Alien, Aliens and Predator all have long build-ups before the action or horror kicks in, but with AvP, there's no build-up. You see the first Predator about two minutes in.
Edgar Wright: I've never seen it.
Simon Pegg: We missed it. We were in, where were we?
Edgar Wright: San Francisco. No, Seattle.
Simon Pegg: We went in to watch the Shaun Of The Dead trailer which was playing with it. We'd just watched Garden State, hadn't we? There's a double bill! But then Edgar fell asleep and I said 'come on love, let's go home'.
Nick Frost: You carried him home, didn't you?
Simon Pegg: I carried him home in my hood.
Bruce is back this year. Arnie's in politics, Sly is in the last act. Are there any action heroes who can take the mantle when they all finally retire?
Simon Pegg: I think it would be really good to make a brilliant sequel to a shit film. Just find a film that's really bad, and then make an absolutely brilliant sequel.
Edgar Wright: Bird On A Wire...
Simon Pegg: 2: Bird Wirer.
Nick Frost: Bird Is The Wire.
Simon Pegg: What a weird thing to do. Mac and Me 2. Better than ET. I don't know. Maybe it will come round again. There was a specific time when it was enough to just be burly and tough and in a way Bruce Willis as John McClane signalled the beginning of the end of that decline and now it's very hard. I don't know.
Edgar Wright: Now, all the heroes now are all vulnerable, like Jason Bourne. Well, not vulnerable but he has his human side. Even Bond in Casino Royale is fallible and he's not an automaton, any more. Even what they tried to do with Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible 3 was make him less superhuman and that's the new thing to do with action heroes.
Simon Pegg: To my shame, I had only just started watching 24 at Christmas. I've been watching it at home and I was amazed by how much Mission: Impossible III was inspired by 24. His team going against the blah blah blah.
Running around while someone in IT helps him...
Simon Pegg: While some spoddy...
Edgar Wright: I like the fact that you, who were in the film and had to deliver the exposition, said 'when his team had to fight the blah blah blah'. Even now you can't explain the plot of that film! (laughs)
Simon Pegg: There was something...
Nick Frost: What is going on?
Simon Pegg: I just had to say go left, go right.
Edgar Wright: When I saw Mission: Impossible III, I really, really enjoyed it but the thing that made me laugh most when I saw it and I laughed out loud in the cinema was when Simon delivers his Rabbit's Foot speech and every time it cut away to Tom Cruise listening really intently, it really made me laugh.
Nick Frost: They shot those when Simon wasn't there.
Simon Pegg: That was my first day.
Edgar Wright: Was he zoning you out?
Simon Pegg: I was talking a load of bollocks that I'd only just got the night before, and Ving Rhames and Tom Cruise are listening like that (makes intent face) and there was a long, high-pitched scream in my head. It was very weird.
Edgar Wright: They're very nice about you on the commentary.
Simon Pegg: I haven't listened to it.
Edgar Wright: You should do. It's so funny. Every time you come on, Tom Cruise goes 'aw, Simon Pegg is AWESOME!'
Simon Pegg: God, does he?
Edgar Wright: That's the interesting thing. I suppose with John McClane, all the action heroes got real. My brain remembers action movies that were trailer snippets. I don't think I've ever seen Under Siege all the way through but all I remember is Steven Seagal going,
Simon Pegg: 'No, I'm the cook!'
Edgar Wright: 'I'm just the chef!' (laughs)
Nick Frost: I remember Erika Eleniak's knockers. And 'ohmigod, we're going to die!'
Simon Pegg: And when she leaps out of the cake, in the marine's outfit. There's the weird thing. We watched Hard To Kill.
Edgar Wright: No, we did Out For Justice.
Simon Pegg: Oh yeah. And there's something weird about Seagal in that it bugs me all the way through. He was quite a good actor. There was something about him.
Edgar Wright: I think he would be better being a goon in a Scorsese film than being a lead in a film.
Simon Pegg: He'd be quite arresting in the background.
Edgar Wright: Yeah, like Henry Silva or someone like that. If he wasn't the lead, that's the thing. We watched Out For Justice again and the thing that amazes me is that the film is 80 minutes long and at the end you have to say that that film went to number one in the States. That was the number one film at the time!
Simon Pegg: It does have the line, 'yo fucknuts!'
Nick Frost: 'Yo, fucknuts!'
Edgar Wright: It was actually entertaining enough for me to watch some other Steven Seagal films, which was what surprised me.
Nick Frost: Anyone who can do a high roundhouse kick in a tight pair of jeans is alright by me. (laughs)
Edgar Wright: Can he?
Nick Frost: Of course he can!
Edgar Wright: Because everything he does is usually involved with towels and going like that (makes a flicking motion). Thing is you can't really see what's going on and it's like close-up magic.
Simon Pegg: It's like violent origami. That's his martial art.
He gives people papercuts.
Edgar Wright: In the late 90s when all the John Woo films, all the Cantonese movies broke in the States and Jackie Chan did and Jet Li did, that's the reason why Seagal and Van Damme's careers dived. When you had the Jackie Chan films, like Rumble in the Bronx, or Jet Li films or John Woo films doing really well, it completely trounced all those people. Jean-Claude Van Damme can't really do a lot – he does the splits and that's kinda it.
Nick Frost: You've done alright with it.
Edgar Wright: Do you know what I mean? They can do a couple of moves and they would make fight scenes around that.
Simon Pegg: But also the choreography wasn't that good, and suddenly you had this amazing balletic action stuff. I remember you showing us the John Woo films when we were doing the first series of Spaced and it was amazing.
Nick Frost: My Brother's Jacket.
Simon Pegg: My Brother's Jacket.
Edgar Wright: That's our name for A Better Tomorrow II. My Brother's Jacket.
Nick Frost: That's what I thought it was called for ages. 'Can I borrow My Brother's Jacket?' It's a great name for a film.
I love the stuff in Hard Boiled where he's a jazz musician. It's so incredibly corny but it somehow works in that film.
You didn't mention Chow Yun-Fat...
Simon Pegg: Absolutely true. In a way, that part of cinema almost seems slightly separate. Even though in Hot Fuzz we do take on board some of those balletics, they feel in a class of their own, those films. I wouldn't lump them in with 'yo, fucknuts!' Hard Boiled seemed like a videogame, with that end in the hospital. I remember you saying how the lift doors close and the set dressers just changed stuff and the lift doors open, and it looks like a different floor but it's not, it's just incredibly industrious.
Edgar Wright: It's weird in a way, that kind of film. It's unbeatable, really. That film had a 120 day shooting schedule and that's why it just looks so amazing. Hollywood spent the next ten years trying to do something as good, trying to copy the Hong Kong films. But Chow Yun-fat is amazing because he isn't like an acrobat. When he did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he had to learn how to sword-fight because he couldn't really do it. He was a tough guy star but he wasn't like Jackie Chan or Jet Li.
Simon Pegg: I think there's something ordinary about the way he looks. He's not ruggedly handsome. He doesn't have much of a chin, but he is incredibly charismatic. I love the stuff in Hard Boiled where he's a jazz musician. It's so incredibly corny but it somehow works in that film.
Woo's had an influence on American action cinema in turn.
Edgar Wright: I think it's sad in a way because one of the reasons that Hollywood can't ever replicate those Hong Kong films properly is because they're really dangerous and they don't really have insurance in Hong Kong films. Those films look exciting and dangerous because they are. I suppose that's why Jackie Chan, twice in his career, tried to crack America, realised it wasn't really going to work, and came back and did his own thing. And it's interesting, I've seen documentaries on Jackie Chan. He did a shitty US-made film in the 80s called The Protector with Danny Aiello as his partner and it was really bland compared to his Hong Kong movies. And he was so ashamed that he went back to Hong Kong and made Police Story, probably the most action-packed film that he's ever done. And in a way, he did it to prove to everybody, 'this is what I do'. There's so much conviction in that film because he had just done a shitty American sell-out.
Simon Pegg: There's also a cultural thing with those films. If you look at some of John Woo's efforts here, in things like Broken Arrow and Mission Impossible II, there's a level of drama that doesn't quite translate, that isn't funny when you watch it in a Hong Kong cinema but becomes corny when you watch it try to be done by the West. There are elements of his films, like Face/Off... [Nick runs his hand across Simon's face; much laughter]
Simon Pegg: We slept in our trailer when we were filming in Beckensfield. We were so far, about an hour and a half's drive there and back so we decided to stay in our trailers. So we stayed on base, got a couple of bottles of red wine from the pub we were filming at and I went to Nick's trailer in my dressing gown and we watched Face/Off and for weeks after we were just going 'aaahhhh!'
Nick Frost: So you know who's who!
Edgar Wright: I like Mission Impossible 2. I remember people looking at me in the cinema because I was laughing and clapping at bits that probably weren't meant to be funny. I even like the bit where Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton are spinning around in their cars and it turns into a L'Oreal commercial for ten seconds and it starts playing tango music because their cars are spinning around and around.
What about the end, when he kicks the gun up from the sand?
Simon Pegg: Oh, that's great. He stamps on the sand, and the gun goes up!
Nick Frost: That's what sand does!
Edgar Wright: There's a similar thing in Bad Boys II with the gun in the sand.
Simon Pegg: That's great when he falls on the mine and he gets all splattered. That's good. That's good, that is. I should write for Empire! (laughs)
Verdict: That's good, that is. Four stars.
Nick Frost: The thing is, you think that movie's finished and then they go to Cuba!
Simon Pegg: No, that's Miami Vice!
Face/Off had Nic Cage, who is a credible action hero...
Edgar Wright: In certain parts, I absolutely love Nicolas Cage. I was going to say he was one of my favourite actors, but it's not like I don't like him anymore. No, Nicolas Cage, when he first started doing those action films, he was a breath of fresh air. He was really funny in The Rock, he was funny in Con Air _ lest we forget 'put the bunny back in the box' which has only recently been superseded by his line in The Wicker Man, 'step away from the bike!' It's one of the finest lines in cinema history. That line is amazing. The Wicker Man is bad but it's quite entertainingly bad. It's quite amusingly... there's a bit in The Wicker Man when he's dressed up in the bear suit at the end and in the new version his ex-fiancee is on the island.
Nick Frost: She's horny but deceitful, like a lot of women.
Edgar Wright: But they're going towards the Wicker Man all in dress and Nicolas Cage is in his massive grizzly bear costume and he goes up to his fiancée and says 'it's me!' like he's Inspector Clouseau.
Nick Frost: He just threatens to shoot everybody all the time.
Edgar Wright: He has a gun on the island. As soon as he brings his automatic out, he loses it completely.
Simon Pegg: That's the thing with Nicolas Cage. His career is peppered with really black and white decisions. He'll do Wild At Heart and Raising Arizona and then do The Wicker Man. It's weird. [Nick runs his hand across Simon's face again] Don't start that! It takes a good six months to stop doing that!
So, is there anyone who can assume the mantle?
Edgar Wright: Statham.
Simon Pegg: I think Matt Damon's doing a really good job.
Edgar Wright: The Rock?
Simon Pegg: The Rock. The Rock could be a new muscle-bound hero.
Nick Frost: He's smart.
Edgar Wright: I like Welcome to the Jungle aka The Rundown aka Helldorado.
Simon Pegg: That's the one at the beginning when he has the fight in the nightclub.
Edgar Wright: When he sees Arnie.
Nick Frost: He's good as the gay protector in Be Cool.
The Rock? Great teeth.
He's good in Doom.
Nick Frost: Great teeth.
Simon Pegg: We loved him back in WWF, back in the day, didn't we?
Nick Frost: Oh yeah. The People's Elbow.
Simon Pegg: What a move. It was the most electrifying move in sports entertainment.
Nick Frost: He would take off his pad because he had a pad here and the minute he took it off, the crowd would go nuts because they knew what was coming.
Simon Pegg: And he'd run to that end...
Nick Frost: And he'd bounce off the ropes three times.
Simon Pegg: And he wouldn't even use the momentum. He'd just stop and go [mimes dropping on someone with your elbow out]
Nick Frost: We must have seen him do the People's Elbow a thousand times and each time was slightly different. He'd go for it and then go 'naaah... yeah!'
Simon Pegg: God love The Rock.
Edgar Wright: Tony Jaa?
Simon Pegg: He's one of those, though.
Edgar Wright: He's a brilliant, brilliant acrobat and fighter...
Simon Pegg: But not a good actor.
Edgar Wright: Have you seen Tom Yung Goong?
Simon Pegg: I ate it the other night. (laughs) That's dubious.
A little dubious. You have been watching Freebie and the Bean!
Edgar Wright: You must have seen The Warrior King, the one where he's avenging the warrior king. The subtitles for most of the film are 'where's my elephant?' exclamation mark. 'Give me my elephant!'
So you guys could corner the market in action hero stuff?
Simon Pegg: After Hot Fuzz it's definitely cake and eat it. We get the laughs but we do the stuff.
Edgar Wright: Whose roles would you like to hoover up in the States?
Simon Pegg: (pause) Cheech and Chong?
Nick Frost: Chris Tucker. Basically all the fat, dead ones.
Simon Pegg: Chris Tucker's not fat or dead!
Edgar Wright: Chris Farley! I thought Chris Tucker was a bit odd.
Nick Frost: Belushi, Farley, Candy. Arbuckle. 'I didn't touch her.'
Edgar Wright: I love that there's a chain of restaurants called Fatty Arbuckles.
Nick Frost: No bottles.
Edgar Wright: BYOB at Fatty Arbuckle's. Or ice sculpture. You know who I thought could have been really good but then he kept disappointing me?
Nick Frost: Don't say me.
Edgar Wright: When Pitch Black came out, I thought Vin Diesel was fantastic. I thought he's great, and then I don't know. I never saw The Pacifier. I saw xXx at the cinema.
Nick Frost: The Cube?
Edgar Wright: I never saw xXx2 with Ice Cube. The Guardian said the funniest review of Ice Cube's acting in xXx2. Peter Bradshaw said 'Ice Cube wears the expression of a man who's got out of the bath to answer the phone' and I thought that was brilliant.
Simon Pegg: I tell you who I'd like to see do more action. Ethan Hawke. In Training Day, he's really vulnerable and he's really hard in that film. I think he'd be good in an action movie where it was a Die Hard-style thing.
Edgar Wright: I really love those films, something like Training Day or LA Confidential, when something comes along like a Year One cop film where it feels original and feels like something you haven't seen before. I love it when something like that comes along. That's why I love Training Day.
Nick Frost: Crowe was great in LA Confidential.
Edgar Wright: Russell Crowe? Bud White? Oh, wow! We were trying to get a bit of dialogue into Hot Fuzz because our favourite exchange in LA Confidential is when Ed Exley and Bud White are talking and he goes 'are we going to bring this down?' and Bud goes, 'yeah, with a wrecking ball'. It's brilliant tough guy talk. Guy Pearce should do more action. So should Russell Crowe, for God's sakes, know what I mean?
With people like Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, they're serious actors and while they enjoy doing action, they don't want it to define them.
Simon Pegg: They feel it's lesser in a way.
Edgar Wright: Denzel Washington, until Man On Fire and Training Day, you didn't think of him as a badass but now you do.
Simon Pegg: He pulled out the bitch!
Nick Frost: Creasey bear kicks arse!
Edgar Wright: Creasey bear is amazing! And Man On Fire has the exact same thing as Mad Max – it's an hour and a half slow burn to some vengeance. Mad Max takes so long to fight back.
Simon Pegg: That's why it's satisfying.
Edgar Wright: Again, it's like our film. It's 90 minutes of plot and half an hour of vengeance at the end.
That's the tagline sorted.
Simon Pegg: That's what we should have done.
'Come in at the end.'
Simon Pegg: For the best bits. [laughs]
Man On Fire is the movie The Punisher should have been.
Edgar Wright: Yeah. Imagine if The Punisher had looked like Man On Fire, it would have been amazing. I haven't seen the new Punisher. I've only seen the Dolph Lundgren version, but he's good, you know.
Who, Dolph Lundgren?
Edgar Wright: No, Thomas Jane. In Stander!
Simon Pegg: He's great in Boogie Nights, too. I thought Dolph was an under-rated action star. There was something underrated about him. Edgar Wright: He was good in that film, I Come In Peace also called...
Edgar Wright: Which has the immortal line at the end, 'I come in peace', to which Dolph says 'yeah, but you go in pieces'. Ka-boom! Brilliant! And there's a guy who throws CD. An alien who throws CDs that decapitate people!
Dolph Lundgren is a ready-made action hero.
Edgar Wright: Hasn't he got a physics degree?
Simon Pegg: I rmember him on The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross in the early 90s and he was knitting with half-moon glasses. He was genuinely funny.
He's self-aware whereas Seagal isn't...
Simon Pegg: isn't. After this gets published, we're going to get our arses kicked by all the big action stars.
Edgar Wright: We've been nice about most of them.
Simon Pegg: I think we've been nice about all of them, actually. I heard from Paul McGuigan, the director of Lucky Number Slevin.
Edgar Wright: With Sir Ben Kingsley?
Simon Pegg: I heard that Bruce Willis was a really big fan of Shaun Of The Dead.
Edgar Wright: Yeah yeah yeah, you told me that.
Simon Pegg: I saw Paul McGuigan on a plane and he was like 'I'm surprised Bruce hasn't called you'
Edgar Wright: Let's make sure he was thinking about the right film because I had a massage the other day and Shaun Of The Dead came up.
Nick Frost: Did you say 'I directed Shaun Of The Dead...' and then you directed your hands down.
Edgar Wright: The guy said 'you directed Shaun Of The Dead? That was scary. I mean, that was really scary. God, that film, the first ten minutes was really, really scary' And I was like, yeah I think you're thinking of Dawn of the Dead. And he went 'Dawn of the Dead! That's right! That's the one!'
Nick Frost: 'Now, do you want the happy finish?'
Simon Pegg: I hate talking during massages, let alone feeling disappointed about my career.
Edgar Wright: I don't want to be talking about Zack Snyder during a massage.
Simon Pegg: Unless he's doing it.
We're on the home straight. What's your favourite action scene?
Simon Pegg: The lobby sequence from The Matrix. I still use that when I have a new television and want to test the sound, I always use that sequence.
Edgar Wright: Favourite action sequence... I have to go for the end of the Wild Bunch. Can I have more than one? Point Break footchase, which we reference in Hot Fuzz. Maybe the steadicam shot in Hard Boiled, the hospital corridor scene. And...
Simon Pegg: The first Quidditch match in Harry Potter.
Edgar Wright: The bar shoot-out in Desperado. I'll go for those four. Can I go for five? Ten? I'll stick with my four. OK, number five would be The House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill Volume 1.
Simon Pegg: I'll stick that on my list.
Nick Frost: Is that when she fights everybody? You've split it up between the fucking two of you. Mine would be, would one of the battle scenes in Braveheart do?
Simon Pegg: Which one?
Nick Frost: Scots v English! It's not the same kind of film but those big fights in the Lord Of The Rings, between the elves and everybody else, they are pretty fucking action-packed.
Edgar Wright: What about one of the showdowns with Philoe Beddo in Every Which Way But Loose?
Nick Frost: When he breaks his arm or he breaks his arm.
Simon Pegg: The bit in the first Die Hard when he leaps off the building with the firehose is a great sequence.
I love the beginning of Blade.
Edgar Wright: I like the beginning. I'm not sure about the end with the fight...
With Stephen Dorff. But the henchmen fight is awesome.
Nick Frost: With the blood? Yeah.
Simon Pegg: The weird thing in Blade II, I think it was, was the vampire assassins taking off their masks and one of them's Cat from Red Dwarf!
Edgar Wright: I like Blade II.
Nick Frost: Guillermo's a very punchy man, in a nice way.
The Michael Bay special: chucking something off the back of something!
He's tactile. He doesn't know his own strength.
Nick Frost: He's my go-to guy when I need a jar open.
Simon Pegg: That's really cool that your go-to guy is del Toro!
Edgar Wright: I've got a number six! The last fifteen minutes of Dragons Forever – Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung. I'm not sure once I watched the film for the first time that I would ever watch the first hour and fifteen minutes, but the last fifteen minutes _ with Benny whatever his name is.
Simon Pegg: Felix La Poubelle from Grosse Pointe Blank.
Nick Frost: The bit in Bad Boys 2 as well, the chase scene when they're hauling off the fucking boat and things.
Simon Pegg: Oh yeah, the Michael Bay special: chucking something off the back of something!
Nick Frost: That's a great chase.
Simon Pegg: He does it so many times in things. Doesn't he do it three times in Bad Boys 2? When in doubt, check things off the back of something.
Transformers will be giant robots being chucked onto the back of giant robots.
Edgar Wright: It features a chase where they're throwing Gobots and Zoids off the back of trucks.
Simon Pegg: Zoids!
Edgar Wright: Zoids!!! That's what our next film is. Fucking Zoids!
Simon Pegg: I thought that's what Transformers died of: zoids.
Edgar Wright: 'I'm afraid Optimus has a zoid'.
Simon Pegg: That would be a funny thing to do.
Edgar Wright: Why don't we do the British Transformers?
Nick Frost: With a letterbox turning into a robot.
Simon Pegg: Terrahawks the movie!
Edgar Wright: I'm in! It would be an idea to do a live-action Gerry Anderson movie.
Nick Frost: Or a live-action He-Man. Although there's already been one.
Edgar Wright: I want to remake Battle of the Planets.
Nick Frost: I can be the fat boss-eyed one.
Simon Pegg: OK, let's not remake Battle of the Planets.
Do you have moments you rewatch? Cool scenes?
Edgar Wright: I think it's called Private Cumshot Deluxe.
Nick Frost: They should do that with action movies like they do with porn films. Just release a tape of pop shots.
Edgar Wright: They do that with Jackie Chan's My Stunts. 'You wanna see more? See Jackie Chan's My Stunts!' I think we covered most of the bits. I think it's definitely the films like The Matrix. When you first get a DVD, you watch that Matrix scene over and over. When Joe Cornish got his digital projector, we watched the Bad Boys 2 car chase just to check the sound!
And the coolest, most iconic action moment?
Simon Pegg: Yippee kay aye, motherfucker is a good one.
Edgar Wright: The bits that reduce me to man tears – does RoboCop count as an action movie? I watched it quite recently and even though it was for the fifth time or so, when he says at the end, 'what's your name, kid?' and he says 'Murphy', I cried. The other movie that made me cry and my girlfriend at the time was completely perplexed as to why it made me cry, was Rumble In The Bronx at the end when Jackie Chan turns to camera and puts his thumb up and Kung Fu by Ash starts and I was so pleased I was reduced to man tears.
Simon Pegg: I cried in Die Hard when the policeman...
Edgar Wright: It's gone from coolest moments to crying!
Simon Pegg: But when the cop shoots the long-haired German guy...
Simon Pegg: Yeah, and he shot that kid so when he's lowering the gun and he's got that wonderful face, that brought tears to my eyes. You love 'not bad for a cueball, don't you?' Nick said when we were watching Aliens, which is essentially an action film and a brilliant sequel because of that because it changed the genre, but he said wouldn't it be great, and I have no idea why he said this, if they remade Aliens but instead of Sigourney Weaver, there was a white ball and then at the very end Bishop's there going 'not bad for a cueball'.
Nick Frost: Not... bad... for a... cue... ball.
Simon Pegg: (crying with laughter) It's the weirdest thing he's ever said!
Nick Frost: Not that one line, the whole film.
Edgar Wright: I've got two other cool action moments. Bruce Willis in Last Boy Scout saying 'touch me again, I'll kill you'.
Simon Pegg: The glove puppet moment!
Robert Rodriguez' career, the backbone of that is amazing action. And brilliantly edited action.
Edgar Wright: And the other bit in the first Dirty Harry just before the bank robber... I gotsta know, Albert Popwell. The fact that the bank alarm goes off and Clint looks pissed off. He knows that there's a bank robbery going on and he's pissed off that he hasn't had time to finish his lunch. And he walks across, shooting the robbers still eating his hotdog. And he gets blood on his trousers.
Nick Frost: Or is it ketchup?
Edgar Wright: It may be both!
Simon Pegg: is it Magnum Force or Sudden Impact when she puts too much sugar in his coffee?
Edgar Wright: That's Sudden Impact.
Simon Pegg: To warn him.
Edgar Wright: He comes out, takes a drink and goes 'hey, there must be a bank robbery going on! Delores over here has been putting two sugars in my coffee for the last ten years' That's a great moment. He knew because he had a really sugary coffee that there was a robbery in progress.
Favourite action one-liner?
Nick Frost and Edgar Wright: See you at the party, Richter!
Edgar Wright: You can have that one!
Nick Frost: Yippee kay-aye, kemo sabe!
Edgar Wright: From the TV show!
Simon Pegg: 'I hope you left enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it right through to your stomach!' From Commando. It's the most convoluted exchange ever.
Edgar Wright: Is he eating something?
Simon Pegg: I think so.
I eat Green Berets for breakfast.
Nick Frost: 'This shit just got real' is one as well.
Edgar Wright: There are good ones in The Last Boy Scout as well. What's a classic action line?
Simon Pegg: 'Guns, lots of guns.' Although The Matrix doesn't necessarily qualify but as an utter naked cool line it does.
Edgar Wright: What about 'we're back, we're bad, he's black, I'm mad'. That's a classic line right there!
Simon Pegg: We all realise now that he was mad because he was black.
Nick Frost: Racist.
Simon Pegg: It's quite subtle.
And your favourite action director?
Simon Pegg: Edgar Wright.
Edgar Wright: Woo? Rodriguez. Tony Scott. Sam Peckinpah.
Edgar Wright: Weirdly, I don't think he is an action director. I think of him as more a sci-fi director for some reason, but True Lies counts.
Simon Pegg: Michael Mann.
Edgar Wright: George Miller.
Simon Pegg: For the condensed essence of action, Bay is great. He's boiled it down to the absolute bullet points of action, if you pardon the pun. For better or for worse, he's foregone and this isn't a criticism, he's foregone subtlety in favour of giving people what they want in terms of balls-to-the-wall action, as Garth Marenghi might say.
Edgar Wright: We're just expanding it into good directors now, aren't we? This could go on forever. There's lot of great directors. Spielberg and Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson are all brilliant action directors but in the same way that you don't think of Tarantino as an action director, but I suppose it's people who for most of their career... Robert Rodriguez' career, the backbone of that is amazing action. And brilliantly edited action.
Is that the key? Editing?
Edgar Wright: Not the only thing, but I think that you can see. When I first saw his films, Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, what impressed me more than anything else was the editing, the fact that he did it himself. He put it together and he edits it like it's a musical number and stuff. John Woo does scenes like that. Anything post-Sam Peckinpah, action went into another league after Peckinpah. The end of The Wild Bunch is just fucking incredible. Sergio Leone, there's another great action director.
Simon Pegg: Michael Winner.
Edgar Wright: How can we forget Bullseye?
Edgar Wright: I do have a soft spot for the Mechanic, the Michael Winner film with Charles Bronson. That is one that I put without irony as a good Michael Winner film.
Simon Pegg: Death Wish 3.
Edgar Wright: Death Wish 3! We forgot that one! That's amazing! What's the name of his gun? Wiley Wiggins or something?
Simon Pegg: That's in fucking dazed and confused! But I can't remember _ I'm still in shock. They used Yorkshire for fucking New York or something.
Last action question: what is it about action that inspires homage and comedy?
Simon Pegg: I think because the genre in itself is very overblown and it doesn't take that much to push it into the comic realm. Even though with Hot Fuzz we don't, as with Shaun Of The Dead, parody it as such as just mix it with comedy, which is a different thing. I'm sure Hot Fuzz will be called a spoof action film. It's not, it is an action film. It just happens to be funny as well.
Edgar Wright: It's a similar thing with Shaun. The main comedy and the reason we made it in the first place is the juxtaposition of this overblown carnage happening in the UK, full stop. That's what attracts us to the material. Wouldn't it be great if dot dot dot?
Simon Pegg: it's good to remind people how good those films are. Genre films and films that aren't that cerebral are often underrated as pieces of art and a lot of them are valid as such. With the possible exception of Hero And The Terror...
A version of this article originally appeared in Empire magazine, issue #213 (March 2007).