Apocalyptic pub crawl adventure The World’s End premieres tonight in London, bringing to a close an unofficial trilogy with Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead before it. Star and co-writer Simon Pegg calls it the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, while writer/director Edgar Wright prefers the Three Flavours: Cornetto – a sly reference to Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours trilogy.
“What’s been really nice about making these movies,” Wright says, “is that we’ve made a horror film, a cop film and a sci-fi film, but they’re really personal films, about our own relationships.”
Evidently, it’s the friendships formed between the lads, on screen and off, that has been pivotal.
Nick Frost is the third corner of the ‘bromantic’ triangle, this time playing Andy, a corporate type forced to relive his wild youth when old mate Gary King (Pegg) persuades him to finish a pub crawl they started when they were teenagers. But what starts out as a booze-up turns into a face-off with robots from outer space.
Wright and Pegg are able to marry this high concept with a down-to-earth quality simply by drawing on their own experiences. “I think everyone knows someone like Gary and there are definitely elements of me and Simon in Gary. We pooled all our reminiscences into it.”
Pegg admits that, like Gary, he went through a Goth phase as a teenager and again, even more recently. “My hair was black over Christmas.” But, he’s just as quick to add that, unlike Gary, he’s not a big drinker. “I’m not a big pub person, not a pub crawler, me. I like to stay in one pub. I think pub crawls are just giving you a reason to drink more than you should. It’s like turning it into a quest gives you a reason to drink twelve pints, when probably the real reason is that you’re an alcoholic.”
Frost interjects. “I don’t think alcoholics do pub crawls though. They’re secretive. People who do pub crawls don’t give a hoot who sees them.”
Twelve pubs are featured in the film to make up the fabled ‘Golden Mile’, but even Wright puts his hands up to a bit of creative licence here. “I could not handle 12 pubs! I’d be out by pub four.”
The director prefers to drown in nostalgia, which is a theme of the film as Gary strives to recapture old glories. “If there’s a villain of the piece in this movie it’s not so much the robots, it’s actually nostalgia itself. You can get obsessed with it. It plagues you. I have these time travel fantasies of wanting to go back to school and do better. I’d like to go on dates again and do them better. I’d like to redo bits of my first film and do them better. It bugs me that I, like, have these feelings…but rather than go and see a psychiatrist, I thought I’d make this film.”
Pegg confesses to some hidden yearnings too. “I have a recurring dream about going to a school reunion and I don’t know why I have it, but I suppose it’s about wanting to go back to where you’re from. I have been back to a school reunion, but I wasn’t quite where I am now when I did it. I met up with some college friends recently, which was nice and we had a good time talking about the old days, but we didn’t do it again.”
Frost shrugs his shoulders, seemingly unable to relate. Does he ever think about what his old mates are getting up to?
“Nah. Not at all. I’m not a nostalgic person. I don’t look back. I just plod forwards and that makes me happy. And I’m not on E4. E-bay? Facebook! I’m not on Facebook. I think if I was going to keep up with people from school, it would have happened before Facebook.”
In fact, the prospect of a school reunion appears to send a shiver down his spine. “I’m terrible at small talk, so the thought of having to go into a room with a hundred people I went to school with when I was 14 and say, ‘How you doin’!? You alright!?’ It doesn’t interest me at all, you know? And they’ll be, like, ‘Ooh, we’ve been watching you…’”
But surely, he had lots to say to Simon Pegg in the five or six years since Hot Fuzz?
“Yeah, I said, ‘Ooh, I’ve been watching you, on the Star Wars.’”
Of course, he means Star Trek. Pegg gives a wry smile. “If we’re doing things and don’t see each other for six months and get back together again there’s never any period of getting to know each other again. We just pick up where we left off. That tends to be the case because we stay in touch all the time, text each other every day, or whatever. The friendships that live are the friendships that evolve. You have to mutate to survive.”
Frost likens their friendship to “a long marriage” and that appears to include a bit of simmering tension as well when RT.com asks why Frost wasn’t part of the writing process on The World’s End.
“The thing is,” he says, “Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz worked with Simon and Edgar. They did pretty well and they were very successful. I wouldn’t want to a) assume that I would be invited to take part in that writing process—
So, he wasn’t invited?
Pegg jumps in. “Well, it wouldn’t have been a Cornetto film if Nick had been— That’s not how it—”
Frost takes back the floor. “What if I’d helped, and it had been terrible? I would get the blame for that! I never enter these things thinking, ‘Oh, why am I not invited?’ I have my turn on the script, you know? They write it, they give it to me. I do a long dra—”
He stops short of calling it a ‘draft’, but the implication is that he contributes extensive notes.
“I know everything in the script, I give it back to them and we go through the whole thing line by line and they use what they want, or don’t use what they don’t want and we move forward from that point. I’ve never felt like, ‘Why am I not invited?’ It works as is, you know.”
The process is much more defined for Pegg who is eager to explain the ethos behind the Cornetto trilogy. “We [me and Edgar] wrote Shaun of the Dead because we came out of Spaced, the sitcom, which Edgar directed and we did Hot Fuzz in the same way. Both times we brought Nick in towards the end of the writing and said, ‘Now, you sprinkle your magic fairy dust on this.’ And that’s how these films have always worked. There is a very specific criteria for these films.”
He starts to sound like Lars von Trier, explaining the Dogme 95 manifesto. Is it, like, a Dogme thing?
“Yeah! It’s that these films are written by myself and Edgar, directed by Edgar in the UK, they are set now, they are usually about conformism – they’re about an individual versus a collective force – and about male friendships, and they exist within a bubble of those three films. Paul is not part of that. If the three of us had written this together, then it would immediately fall out of that category and this needed to be the third one of those films.”
Pegg also makes the point that Paul, which he did co-write with Frost, made around $100millon at the box office and Frost takes this to the logical conclusion. “The next thing me and Simon write will be the second part of the alien road trip trilogy.”
What is plain to see is that Frost, Pegg and Wright do have a genuinely good time together and while The World’s End marks the end of a chapter, they do plan to reteam on other projects, further down the line. “Absolutely,” says Frost. “It may not be next year, it may not be in two years, but yeah, absolutely we will.”
The World’s End is in UK cinemas 19 July.