Despite less than glamorous weather, the Capital turns on a red carpet party for a new film about responsible imbibing, midlife crises and saving the world between pints. Tim Gruar sobers up after the international premiere of The World’s End for a chat to two of its stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
“You either know a ‘Gary’,” comments actor/writer Simon Pegg,”or you are him!” A well-rehearsed comment but utterly true. It’s the morning after and he’s talking about the main protagonist in a vision he and long-time writer/collaborator Edgar Wright have finally brought to the screen.
Some in the press have been fobbing it off as the final part of the ‘Cornetto Trilogy”, which is preceded by two of the funniest Home Counties-meets-zombie-thriller-comedies ever: Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. “Nah. Worry about this one first. Who knows,” he smiles. Despite the jetlag of the 24 hour visit, and yet another late night, he’s still charming and good humoured. Only two sleeps ago he pal/actor Nick Frost, who’s also starred in the aforementioned films, trod the Axminster to launch it all in London. The Wellington gig, however, was all about showing respect to Wellywood. Wright scripted Peter Jackson’s Tintin, as did Pegg and Frost who played bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson. Another World star Martin escaped ‘the trenches’, having just wrapped filming of the Hobbit the night before. Fittingly, com père Sir Peter mentions first meeting with Wright and Pegg, when they were out here promoting Shaun of the Dead. “They wanted to see the Brain Dead house up in Miramar.” Pegg tells me that while that was “very cool. I was even more impressed when he invited us into his ‘museum’ of film memorabilia and shows me a shirt from ’Shaun’. He says” Is this really from the film?” I could see my (blooded) hand prints on it. That was gobsmacking!”
But back to The World’s End – a simple, yet crazy story of a simple pub crawl rematch. “Edgar wrote this screen play about these young guys on a pub crawl. We took about thirty seconds of it and made the rest about the guys when they’ve all grown up. But Gary (Pegg’s character) hasn’t. He’s permanently 19. Dressed like a Goth. Black greasy hair. Black coat. Sisters of Mercy T-shirt. Still drives the same car (‘The Beast’). Even the same cassette in the player!” Gary has never moved on and despite attempts to sober up has only one goal – to return with his former posse to finish a quest – a golden mile of pubs, concluding, fittingly at an establishment known as The World’s End. “All the Pub signs en route give clues about what goes on during their respective scenes, sort of like Tarot cards. And there are in-jokes within each scene. And a certain breakfast spread takes on a new meaning, too!”
Plus the movie is a bit of a bro-mance between Frost’s character, who’s a very serious, straight laced, grudge holding merchant banker, and ‘former’ mate, the self-crowned Gary King (pun intended and used constantly through the film). King is self-centred, juvenile, whose best days were in high school. “I was absolutely that guy, once…into drinking, selfish, wanting to be cool.” Ironically, as a 40 year old responsible father, Pegg is pretty much off the drink. “But it still felt good to put on those clothes of my youth (and re-live that time again).” That was the spirit that Gary uses to get the other four characters on board – Andy (played by Frost), anal realtor Oliver (Freeman), fitness freak Steven (Paddy Consadine) and over protective Peter (Eddie Marsan).
By contrast Frost’s character is a complete polar opposite – going from tap-water drinking manager to psycho ‘Drunken Master’. “Gary is the kind of character that can make a man who’s been sober for 15 years suddenly downs 5 shots in a row!” And, it should be noted, takes on an inexhaustible onslaught of foes when the movie turns from a nostalgic return to a fight for the survival of mankind – at least in its current flawed format.
And what about the movie’s music, which is so pivotal? Pegg’s quick to confide that this was clearly his own personal soundtrack from the 1990’s. The ultimate reference is the introductory quote from Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded!’ – a movie quote-within-a-song-with-in-a-movie.
And the dedication to Sisters of Mercy? Gary’s even them tattooed on his chest. “First, Last and Always was my favourite album. ‘Maryanne’ was the best track but given how the film ends it had to be ‘This Corrosion’ Andrew Elvidge gave us his blessing. Always wanted to be like him. Though, I don’t look as good in a leather jacket and baby-oiled chest!”
Frost, on the other hand, “was more into Madchester, Rave, Hard House. I still get into it. I’m a bit old and too well known to hit the clubs, instead I stay up with DJs on Twitter” he glances at his smart phone,” follow their work that way.” Somehow, I find that a little disarming given Frost’s quiet demeanour. But having seen his Hulk impression on film it’s best to just smile sweetly.
And smiling is what the crowd were all doing at the end of the premiere, too. This is a film that will work on many levels, with references to many other films, genres and plus the obligatory reference to a popular frozen treat. Frost gives me a cool reception when I suggest that Trumpets are a better choice on a hot day but he can’t see Rachel Hunter as zombie or a killer robot. Hey, it could work!