Journey to The World's End: Part Two - Fish and chips with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
After a long night of an abbreviated pub crawl that resulted in some fun hijinks and an immersion into the world of English pub life on a random Wednesday night, I awoke to my alarm the next morning, wide with anticipation and anxiety (but, no hangover thankfully) over sitting down with both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for a few drinks and (for me) some fish and chips. It was one of those things as a fansite journo that you approach with trepidation. The saying goes that “you should never meet your heroes” and there’s some validity to that, but not universal truth. In this case, with Pegg and Frost carrying the reputation of being a couple of geek sweethearts that could wax nerdspeak like the best of them it was my greatest hope that they’d simply be as cool as I’d imagined and nothing more.
We were to meet Pegg and Frost at The Clarence, a pub just down the way from our hotel. It gleamed with that pub glow; rustic, wood-covered, paneled windows, and an overall charming atmosphere. I snagged a beer while waiting for the men of the hour to arrive and was surprised that I felt relatively at ease. This was to be nothing more than lunch and a chat. It wasn’t a typical press event with cameras and recorders and pointed, topical questions. It was something much different and the very notion of that actually playing out intrigued the shit out of me.
After a short wait we were informed the gents had arrived and were waiting upstairs where we had a large roundtable set-up with assigned seats. Immediately upon getting upstairs, I was met with the sight of both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost taking their seats unceremoniously, both looking casual, inviting, and in good spirits. Pegg sported his usual blonde locks and Frost rocked a sweet beard. Off to a good start, I thought. I searched for my name to see where I’d be situated in this menagerie and found my chair to be right next to Pegg’s and directly across from Frost. I did a mental up-and-down head nod of appreciation and introduced myself to both gentlemen, shaking their hands, and settling in.
Once all situated, something great happened; we all started talking. I can’t recall who started, but it began with ease, like a group of pals, and opened the valves on geek speak, which was a beautiful thing. My intent was to ask questions about the men, not so much the movie, as I was more curious about them than Edgar Wright's THE WORLD'S END, which I already loved and was familiar with. Still, the early talk began about the final chapter of The Cornetto Trilogy and both were forthcoming about the ideas and themes that made up the film.
Pegg, looking healthy and speaking with the same type of quick wit you’d expect after seeing his films, was full of perspective and insight on the film. He talked a lot about the themes of the collective alien/robot invasion and how it was influenced by the social media aspect of our lives. These invaders had basically started their own “Facebook” and wanted all races to join, including humans. However, with men like Gary King (Pegg’s rambunctiously awesome character from the film) around, this was no easy task. The comparison made perfect sense and made the big “f*ck off” finale that much cooler in my eyes.
The talk quickly spiraled into talk of zombie’s (naturally), of which both Pegg and Frost seemed to be exceptionally well versed in. Pegg was quick to jump to the defense of George Romero, who he felt wasn’t getting the recognition he deserved as the father of zombies, especially with them being at the height of their popularity. I asked what he thought of the film version of WORLD WAR Z after he mentioned the book by Max Brooks and his response was something to the effect of “well, it was called WORLD WAR Z, wasn’t it?” We all laughed and then he said he actually enjoyed it as a film, but lamented the use of the speed zombies. But, we all agreed that the PG-13 and lack of gore kind of killed the overall effect.
Our food was brought out in fits and we all chewed carefully, making sure not to be the person that chokes or hacks up their chow in the midst of these fine gents. The conversation hovered around many of the topics from THE WORLD'S END, including the characters that both actors portray and what influenced them, etc., much of which we'd heard before, but it was fascinating to hear them discuss it in a candid and casual way. What was especially cool was that neither Pegg nor Frost was at a loss for words and their responses were genuine.
At one point I asked the question that gets tossed around a bit, mostly because I simply had never heard a response that appeased me; I noted that we kind of expected they’d all work together (Edgar Wright, Pegg, Frost) again in the future, but I was curious if there was a specific genre they’d like to tackle, such as a western or a horror film. Pegg said that they didn’t really approach the films as odes to genre, but simply as stories and themes that influenced them at the moment. He went on to say that a western isn’t really in the cards as it’s a genre he knows very little about and didn’t grow up with, so that wasn’t something that he saw as a possibility. Mostly, they simply followed what inspired them and developed the ideas over time, never settling into a genre hold, which I found refreshing.
We all had to resist the urge to ask questions that hung on our minds as not only fans, but movie journo’s looking for inside info, and that was addressed by both Pegg and Frost. They both stated that they checked numerous sites that appealed to them (when asked which ones specifically, they jokingly (?) said all of those who were sitting there). The question about rumors was brought up, to which they said were both interesting and frustrating, with Pegg saying that oftentimes he’d see some of the rumors and know immediately if they were actually true or not and sometimes wonder how the information even got out. This led to the topic of STAR TREK, in which Pegg confirmed that Joe Cornish was in fact in discussions for STAR TREK 3, but that it was only discussions and nothing more. However, he said that he had spoken to Cornish about it and was excited about the prospect of him possibly directing. (The irony of addressing a rumor on the topic of rumors at a lunch with Pegg and Frost is not lost on me.)
When asked what the craziest rumor they’d ever heard about themselves, it involved the two of them breeding a dog for famed Beatle Paul McCartney, which is certainly an odd and offbeat rumor (and one I'd never heard).
I asked both Pegg and Frost what movies they were looking forward to, especially with 2015 on approach like a Starfleet invasion of movies to take over the world and they seemed more concerned with franchise overkill rather than an excitement for the abundance of big films (although Pegg mentioned he most recently enjoyed the British horror flick IN FEAR), which I found to be an interesting perspective. It was much like hearing hardcore geeks addressing the issues of Hollywood, except these guys were deep in the fixture, yet retaining a sense of understanding that can sometimes be lost once you cross over into the moviemaking world. In short, their geek cred was showing and that was not at all a bad thing.
As the conversation winded down and our plates disappeared from the table, the question was asked who they’d most like to work with, both of them saying they were quite keen on joining forces with Jennifer Lawrence, who they found to be both funny and talented, not to mention exceptionally attractive (they have good taste!). The end was upon us, after almost two hours of chatter, most of which was lost in the surreal clouds of the moment, and both Pegg and Frost generously and graciously posed for pictures and we were left feeling that the conversation could’ve gone on for hours and well into the night, possibly evolving into yet another pub-crawl (easy, liver, it didn’t happen).
As a movie fan, a writer, and all around geek, the simple two hours that both Pegg and Frost shared with us was one of those moments that proved meeting your heroes wasn’t always a disappointing affair. My respect for both men doubled and I had intense gratitude for being afforded the opportunity. I’ll never watch either actor the same again, let alone The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, and that was a damn good thing.
Walking out of The Clarence and back onto the chilly streets of a bustling London, I could hear Primal Scream’s “Loaded” (from the film's opening) playing in the back of my brain as I whisked away back to my own end of the world, the memories of pub-crawls, fish and chips, and the dynamic duo of Pegg and Frost lingering like the best kind of hangover.