Producing a trilogy of movies is no easy feat. Producing a trilogy of films, each in a completely different genre? That’s a totally different ballgame.
British writer/director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have found the right formula to do just that.
The guys are back in theaters this weekend with “The World’s End,” the third installment of the their “Cornetto Trilogy” — named for a running joke about ice cream that appears in all three films.
“The World’s End” is a sci-fi film about a group of five former friends who return to their hometown of to relive the greatest night of their young lives.
Led by Gary King (Pegg), a self-indulgent alcoholic who can’t stop living in the past, the distant pals (Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Nick Frost) travel home to Newton Haven to complete “The Golden Mile,” a pub crawl that they were unable to finish as teenagers. They set out to make it to the very last bar on the tour, aptly called The World’s End, but soon discover that their old friends and neighbors don’t remember them… because robots have invaded their bodies.
I recently sat down with Nick Frost and Edgar Wright to discuss pub crawls, a “Shaun of the Dead” sequel and the dangers of nostalgia:
Laura Hibbs: Is this movie your own personal “Golden Mile,” a way to revisit the making of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”?
Edgar Wright: I think so, maybe. There are only a couple of nods back to the previous films, but if you haven’t seen the other two movies you can absolutely enjoy it. But we did want to have closure for the other two, and that partly comes from the returning cast and a couple of running jokes. The theme of the movie is about the danger of nostalgia, and the danger of going backwards and not forwards. We thought that was a good way to wrap it up.
Hibbs: Was it always your intention to make three movies?
Nick Frost: No, I mean, we made “Shaun of the Dead” and Edgar signed up to do “Hot Fuzz” and it was just like, “Let’s do another one.”
Wright: There was no grand plan. When we were making “Shaun of the Dead,” we felt lucky. It had been, like, three years of trying to get it financed. At that stage you’re not in any sort of George Lucas position to say, “Oh, this is a series of nine.”
Frost: But now we can say there will be three new ones set before “Shaun of the Dead,” and three old ones set after. No, kidding. A lot of people ask us if we are sad that it’s over, but we never saw it like that. This bit of it is over.
Wright: We promised ourselves that we’d do a third one. You’ve got to do the films you want to do, rather than the films you think you ought to do. This movie is something that we wanted to make. As well as having lots of crowd-pleasing moments, it has a lot of personal aspects in it. We could have made something that was lightweight and silly, and you might make people laugh for a hundred minutes, but they will forget about it by the time they go to validate their parking. This film has got laughs, action and sci-fi, but you might think about it a couple days later.
Hibbs: Which of the three films in the trilogy was the most difficult to make?
Wright: “The World’s End” was more of a challenge in that there’s more story and exposition and an internal logic, whereas in “Shaun of the Dead,” we never explained the zombies. We were sort of cutting-and-pasting, setting a film within [“Dawn of the Dead” creator’s] George A. Romero’s universe. The zombies don’t even talk, they’re just a blood-red, flesh-eating metaphor. With this, even though it is riffing on things we grew up with, we created our very own version of a threat.
Frost: Also, in terms of the three different film genres… these are genres that we love. We’re not parodying them; they are things we have loved since we were kids. I think it would be a harder sell if we were trying to do some sort of Merchant Ivory comedy because that’s not something we love necessarily. That said, “A Room with a View” would be great.
Wright: Ha! Let’s do a “The Remains of the Day” film next.
Frost: I’d love to play a stuffy guy. Simon’s would be like a stuffy footman. I’d be like some stuffy head butler. I’d love to see Simon in some britches.
Hibbs: How did the idea of “The World’s End” come to fruition?
Wright: I went on a pub crawl when I was 19 and I wrote a script that was just about teenagers drinking, which was much more in the vein of “Dazed and Confused” or “Superbad.” I never made it, but I was always thinking that I’d like to do a drinking quest movie. And there was so much richer comic potential in the tragic image of 40-year-olds trying to be teenagers again. On top of that, I come from a small town, and whenever I would go back I was constantly confronted with the bittersweet emotion that the town is changing without me there. The people you knew at school don’t recognize you anymore; the bartenders don’t recognize you anymore. The thing with the bartender actually happened to me. Someone that I used to think would know me on a first name basis didn’t recognize me anymore. And it happened with the school bully as well. He didn’t recognize me.
Frost: Where is he now though? Look at you.
Wright: Maybe he’ll see the film and call me up and apologize.
Frost: Or wait for you and punch the [expletive] out of you.
Hibbs: Fans are definitely going to attempt their own “Golden Mile” pub crawls after seeing the movie. Any tips?
Frost: Yep. Don’t do that.
Wright: Watch the movie and please drink responsibly. As somebody who has instigated a pub crawl, you know it’s going to end very messily.
Frost: Heavy drinking and travelling is always a bad idea. Stay put.
“The World’s End” opens in theaters everywhere August 23. Click here to order tickets through Fandango.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.