'Our friendship's as strong as ever' ; INTERVIEW Simon Pegg and Nick FrostSimon Pegg and Nick Frost are hoping to follow the huge success of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz with a pub-based sci-fi comedy. The best mates tell Susan Griffin how the idea for the movie became a reality
WHO hasn't heard of the Chinese martial art kung fu or that great British tradition, the pub crawl? But Pub Fu? That's a new one.
However, this amalgamation of pastimes is artfully demonstrated in The World's End starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
It was fantastic - I got to fight ten men at once and didn't get hit, says bearded Frost, 41, recalling the scenes in which he and co- stars Pegg, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan release their inner action men when a pub crawl takes an unexpected turn.
On hand to assist was stunt co-ordinator Brad Allan, who's worked with martial arts legend Jackie Chan for years.
He's quite serious, but sometimes you'd see him laughing at the monitors at something you'd done and you'd feel amazing, says Essex- born Frost.
The British sci-fi comedy is the third film in Pegg and Frost's blood and ice cream trilogy following 2004's zombie romcom Shaun Of The Dead and 2007's cop comedy Hot Fuzz.
The latest story begins in 1990 in the suburban town of Newton Haven when five teenage boys celebrate leaving school by attempting an epic pub crawl.
Twenty years later, the five musketeers have grown up and moved on, with the exception of immature and irrepressible ringleader Gary King (Pegg), who becomes hell-bent on reuniting the gang and tackling the 12-pint Golden Mile again.
Unenthused, the others go along with Gary's plan but soon realise something odd's going on in their home town, and the pub crawl begins to unravel. It's a bigger proposition for us than the earlier pictures, says Pegg, 43, sitting next to his long-time friend Frost.
As with the two earlier films, Pegg co-wrote the script with Edgar Wright (who has directed all three) and reveals that the pub crawl element partly came from a script Edgar had toyed with at a young age, based on one he and his friends attempted as teens. They didn't make it past pub six, but that sense of it being a quest stuck with Wright. This time, though, the drinking marathon is just the beginning.
When you go back to your home town, you experience this simultaneous feeling of familiarity and alienation and you can't put your finger on what it is.
It looks the same but it isn't - and that's because you're different, it's not different, says Pegg, who hails from Gloucester but now lives in London with his wife Maureen and their daughter Matilda.
We thought it'd be funny if [in the film] the reason it feels different is if it had been taken over by alien robots.
He and Wright began writing the script in mid-2011, a process he describes as swift. By now, we understand each other's way of working and we're on the same page perhaps more than ever, says Pegg, adding that it didn't take long to hone his irritating character. Edgar and I joked about how in reunion films, like 1983's The Big Chill, there's a corpse because someone's just died. In The World's End, Gary basically is the corpse.
When he turns up to talk his friends into doing the 'Golden Mile' it's like they're seeing a ghost from their past.
The pair couldn't have had a better time on set.
We just hung out, says Frost. I wish I could tell you some story where we all hated one another but we just laughed a lot.
It was that thing where you get home and you have your shower and you get your bag ready for the next day and you think, 'I can't wait to get in', and that's a rare thing in any job.
It wasn't all laughs though. We all had a moment in the film where we're angry or upset or sad and it's serious acting, not just goofing around, says Frost. But it all felt very supportive.
Apart from the crotch-cupping, Pegg interjects. The crotch- cupping's weird. I'm not sure why Edgar introduced that.
At least they all knew each other. Freeman and Considine starred in the trilogy's earlier titles, while Marsan appeared as one of the dwarves in last year's Snow White And The Huntsman alongside Frost, and was directed by Considine in the bleak drama Tyrannosaur. Left alone, Paddy will just dance around and say things inappropriately, reveals Frost.
Martin's a dark horse, adds Pegg. He likes to make you laugh but pretends he's not doing it.
And Marsan? Well, Pegg was keen to show him in a softer light on screen. Eddie's a master at playing bad guys, says Pegg. I mean he refers to himself as 'rent-a-villain Eddie-Marsan' and we loved the idea of him playing a sympathetic, loveable character.
Among all this testosterone, former Bond girl Rosamund Pike, who plays Freeman's sister, managed to hold her own. She gives as good as she gets, and throws herself into it, says Pegg.
Frost adds: But we were very protective of her. When it was cold outside, the five of us would crowd around her and give her a penguin cuddle. Banter aside, there was a particular reason Pegg relished this movie. As fans will know, he went through a goth phase in his youth (There was a lot of hairspray, tight trousers and winkle pickers), so leapt at the chance to dress Gary as a goth. This time round, he even dyed his hairlocks black. I never dyed my hair when I was young. I always thought it'd upset my mum, so to do it felt like I was putting something to bed, he says, laughing.
Frost lives in London with his wife Christina and their son. It's almost 15 years since Pegg wrote him into his TV show Spaced, but by then they were already best mates.
That show and the film trilogy aside, they've starred in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures Of Tintin and alien comedy Paul, which they also co-wrote, and have also forged successful solo careers.
We've gone from being flatmates and roommates and drinking buddies to husbands and fathers, but while we've moved away from each other, our friendship's stayed as strong as ever, says Pegg.
In fact, the only time they can remember embarking on a pub crawl was with each other.
We did one for Simon's stag do and we kind of did one at my stag do, but then a friend bought a bottle of absinthe shaped like the Eiffel Tower and that put paid to that, Frost recalls.
And with that, the funny guys get up and wander off singing Rick Astley's Together Forever... The World's End is out today.
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