An Interview with the ‘Hot Fuzz’ Crew
by Gary Schultz
Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
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I previously interviewed the Hot Fuzz crew while they were promoting their previous film, Shaun of the Dead. You can read that interview right here on Film Monthly. Out of all the interviews I have ever done, these guys have honestly been my favorite during both interviews. They are down-to-earth guys, the kind of guys you would want to hang out with, have a beer and talk about your favorite action movies with. Their enthusiasm for filmmaking is infectious. I did my last interview solo. Now I’m in a press junket. Things have changed in the last few years. Their new movie, Hot Fuzz, is amazing and blew up the UK box office. Get ready, America, because if you didn’t know Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright already, you will very soon. These guys are going to blow up internationally, and it’s because their filmmaking is top-notch. Check out Hot Fuzz, and check out my interview with director Edgar Wright and the stars of Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Gary Schultz: Guys, before we get this interview started, I want to say that Hot Fuzz is a fucking awesome movie.
Edgar Wright: (laughing) That’s two of our favorite words, “fucking” and “awesome.”
GS: Sorry, that’s pretty unprofessional of me…I also use the word dynamite frequently.
EW: No, man, it’s cool. Glad you liked the movie.
GS: Can you guys tell us a little about the film, Hot Fuzz?
Simon Pegg: Hot Fuzz is the tale of a very overachieving police officer who is making everyone else look bad and ends up being reassigned to what seems to be the most ideal, peaceful village in the UK. But it turns out to be the darkest beating heart of corruption throughout the country, and my character teams up with Nick’s character, Danny, to find out if his suspicions are correct. The film goes from being this little quaint English procedural picture to a full-blown, American-style action movie.
EW: From good ass to badass.
Other Interviewer: Were you guys worried about the complete lack of zombies at this point in the film?
EW: You know, after about a 16-month press tour on Shaun of the Dead, we’re fucking sick of zombies.
EW: We capped off our zombie fascination with our cameo in Land of the Dead, and that was it. It was the perfect way to end our zombie obsession.
GS: How did you prepare for the writing of this film?
EW: Well, first, we love the genre. We’re big fans, and to prepare, we made ourselves completely emerge into the genre. We watched something like 138 action films to get into that mindset to write that hackneyed dialogue. Because it’s kind of funny when you watch those old action films—I mean, you watch something like Out For Justice and think, Wow, somebody wrote this.
GS: Richie, Richie.
EW: Exactly, and somebody wrote down the line “Yo, fuck nuts…”
Other Interviewer: That was probably Seagal.
EW: Was that a bit of method? He goes to the director, (Edgar does his best whispering Seagal imitation) “Hey, man, I got an idea for this scene. I go up to the guy and say, ‘Yo, fuck nuts…’”
Nick Frost: (admiring) You know, he’s almost a good an actor as that Steven Seagal…
GS: Well, I mean, you’re talking Out for Justice/Marked for Death-era Seagal. He was still badass. Now he’s doing Mountain Dew commercials.
NF: He’s touring his bad around the UK.
Other Interviewer: I’ve seen his band, Thunder Box.
GS: Does he tour with Russell Crowe’s band?
NF: Yeah 30 Odd Feet of Grunts and Thunder Box. Those are some great names.
GS: Your approach to comedy is unique. Or even better, I would say that your films are very funny, appealing to a low-brow audience, while the humor is almost high-brow. You never talk down to the audience.
EW: We are encouraged and confident that the audience can get our humor. We don’t have to talk down to them. As long as it’s funny on a first watch, people will get it and allow it to resonate on different levels.
GS: It seems that could be taught to American comedy.
EW: Well, now, you’ve got The Simpsons. The Simpsons is an amazing show.
GS: Yeah, but The Simpsons is the best sitcom ever. I mean, almost 20 years running. It’s an exception.
SP: Arrested Development was very smart as well.
GS: Okay, so you got me.
SP: I wrote a joke back when we were doing our TV show, Spaced. It was in the first season, and the joke was about one of the characters’ dog goes missing, and he comes back and says it was put up into a crocodile. And it was in reference to when Scully from The X-Files’ dog went missing, and I thought one person perhaps will actually get this joke, and they will be so fucking happy they did. They will feel the kind of delight of being spoken to personally by a television program and that has become the fundamental of the main body of all our work. We’re always being very personal, very specific and in doing that you’ll find that loads of people get.
GS: The audience then feels like they are connecting to something special. The inside joke.
EW: The thing about Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead aside from all the kind of riffing on genres, there are characters and character arcs that you can sympathize with. And I think that’s what makes these films work more than anything else. Look at the Scary Movie films—they exist from joke to joke. If the joke hits, it’s great, but if the joke misses, there’s nothing happening on the screen. You’re just kind of flatlining. And what we try to do with our comedy is make sure that there are characters that see you through the entire thing. Like you’re watching a proper film that does sort of have all these references from the genre. But really, you’re watching the story of Nicholas Angel and Danny. Shaun of the Dead, you’re watching the story of Shaun, Liz, and Ed. The characters glue it all together, and the rest is gravy.
GS: Both your films are great comedies, and then by the third act, Shaun turns into a truly scary horror film and Hot Fuzz is the same. By the third act, it turns into an amazing action film.
EW: Absolutely. What we wanted to do is really keep amping it up. I mean, with Shaun of the Dead, I’m really proud of it, but there are elements about the climax that, if we had a little more time and money, I would have really gotten a little bit further with some more carnage. With Hot Fuzz, we really wanted to go over the top in the third act with the action.
GS: I saw Point Break and went skydiving three times.
GS: No bullshit. What is with the Point Break obsession?
SP: Point Break, along with Bad Boys 2, is kind of the essential over the top bad action movie. Very different films and very unpretentious. Point Break is a really interesting film, because it is thoroughly enjoyable and it’s directed by a woman, as well, which is interesting, because she doesn’t shy away from the sort of guy-on-guy mentality in the film that we also address in Hot Fuzz. Occasionally, we’ll write something wacky, and people will go, “What we’re you smoking when you wrote that?” Man, this film was powered entirely by black coffee.
GS: You are releasing the film on 4/20 here in the States, so what are you implying that the audience do before seeing the movie?
NF: I’d say, smoke a fat one and then eat a burrito and then go and watch it.
Gary Schultz is a filmmaker living in Chicago, IL. Go see Hot Fuzz.
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