Simon Pegg on rewriting Star Trek 3, "geekdom" and playing a romantic lead
"I’ve become the poster child for the geek generation," says the Spaced creator, "and it’s not something I want to be"
This new grown-up perspective chimes with Pegg’s views on the culture in which he made his name and plies his trade. As Mark Gatiss said in Radio Times last month, “The geeks have indeed inherited the Earth.” On the one hand, this empowers the fanboy who wrote an autobiography called Nerd Do Well.
But on the other...“Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed.
“Now, I don’t know if that is a good thing. Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes... Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously!
“It is a kind of dumbing down in a way,” he continues. “Because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about... whatever. Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.”
Of course, he adds hastily, he enjoys those kind of movies. His little screening room at home is stuffed with Darth Vader toys and memorabilia (and, indeed, right now he’s drinking tea from a Star Wars mug).
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“But I sometimes feel like I miss grown-up things. And I honestly thought the other day that I’m gonna retire from geekdom. I’ve become the poster child for that generation, and it’s not necessarily something I particularly want to be. I’d quite like to go off and do some serious acting,” he says glancing down at his futuristic Apple Watch – a personal gift from the designer himself, Brit tech hero Sir Jonathan Ive.
The watch is genuinely “awesome”, he enthuses. He shows me his “activity” for the day – the device can measure what exercise he’s done. “It’ll give me a little tap if I’ve been sitting down a long time.”
He demonstrates some more of the gizmo’s functionality, sending a recording of his heartbeat to the first contact that pops up in his address book: old pal and repeat collaborator Nick Frost. His one-time flatmate has an Apple Watch, too.
“So Nick knows I’m alive now. Or I can send him a little picture,” Pegg says, drawing a simple love heart with his finger. “But he just sends me back pictures of willies. It’s the easiest thing to draw on this!”
Maybe he’s not ready to grow up and turn his back on geekdom quite yet.
Man Up is out in cinemas from Friday 29th May