An interview with THE WORLD’S END writer/director, Edgar Wright
You may not be able to tell just by looking at it but THE WORLD’S END is in fact the third film in a trilogy. Now you might be thinking, how did I miss the first two films but the truth of it is, you probably saw them both. THE WORLD’S END concludes what is affectionately known as the Cornetto Trilogy, as in Cornetto ice cream cones, and it is preceded by SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ before it. If you’re still scratching your head trying to decipher the connection, I’ll allow the director of all three films, Edgar Wright, to explain it to you.
“The things that connect these movies, aside from the sillier things like ice cream and fence jumping, the overall themes that are there, they’re all about friendship between men; they’re all about perpetual adolescence and the dangers of that; they’re all about the individual versus the collective,” Wright explains to me when we sit down to chat in Toronto at the Trump Hotel, just weeks before his fifth film is to be released. “We tried to make these three films all stand alone movies but they are a thematic trilogy.”
You’re just going to have to take his word for it. And why wouldn’t you really? Wright has yet to let any of his fans down, having helmed these three fine films, as well as 2010’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. His proven track record has now inspired the confidence of Marvel, as he will next embark on the comic book adaptation of ANT-MAN.
Of course, the other thing each film in the Cornetto trilogy has in common are its stars, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg and Frost have known each for years, having first worked together on a television series that Wright created, called “Spaced”. Over the years, not only has their friendship gotten stronger, but their close relationship has helped make the work better as well.
“The reason that we get through these shoots is because we’re not only really good friends but really close too,” Wright says of his relationship with Pegg and Frost. “I think the good thing that comes from being really close is that you can be completely honest with each other.”
Wright follows this statement with a really quite adorable story about writing for Pegg and Frost that goes a little something like this. “There’s this story about HOT FUZZ, which is actually true, and sometimes people accuse us, and quite rightly, of not writing enough parts for female roles. One of the absolutely true stories in HOT FUZZ, we had written a romantic foil for Simon and the script was too long and we cut it out but we gave all of her lines to Nick Frost instead. We didn’t even have to change anything!”
The male relationship at the center of each of these films is certainly the single strongest connection tying each film together. While many films released today adhere to the buddy genre, few of them feel as genuine as what Wright produces. In fact, he feels quite strongly about this particular subject, something he calls the “man child” genre. “In terms of the male relationships, in THE WORLD’S END in particular, we wanted to be really honest. I always think that these films just scratch the surface of things but never go any deeper. Usually any of the man child films, or films about how it’s great to be a kid forever, always end up glorifying it, never ever show any kind of dark side. We thought it was important, not a conscious decision to be dark, more like just a conscious effort to be honest. And if you set it up that a character has problems, you have to resolve it and we wanted it to resolve in very surprising ways.”
To call the resolution of THE WORLD’S END a surprise is most certainly an understatement. What starts out as a simple attempt at recreating the supposed best night of their lives, five long time friends reunite to embark on a 12-stop pub crawl in their old college town. Somewhere along the way, things get a little messy, when Gary King (Pegg) knocks the head off of a teenager in a bathroom altercation, which reveals that this particular adolescent may in fact not be human. To divulge anything further could spoil the film and, to hear Wright talk about, the science-fiction elements of the this film are not what matters most anyway.
“It’s all based on people that we know and people that we are. In a way, doing these movies, from SHAUN to this one, me and Simon realized that writing them is quite therapeutic. The stuff we write about in the film, we might not talk about too much in real life. I start to see the movies like Trojan horses – like we made this zombie movie, cop movie, and a sci-fi movie, but actually we smuggled in this relationship comedy along the way.”
And so what does this all mean for Wright’s relationship with Pegg and Frost (and the number of other regulars like Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine) now that this trilogy is coming to a close? Will we never see them come together again?
“It’s funny, a lot of people have been asking us what’s next. This movie was quite ambitious for us to pull off and we just feel satisfied that we made good on a promise,” says Wright, with a clear appreciation for what he and his team have truly accomplished over the last ten years. “As much as we promised fans, we promised ourselves that we would do a third film together. If we do another film together, it will be something completely different.”
So there’s hope then for this fantastic comedy trio to live on in another incarnation somewhere down the road. Then that just leaves one important question left to be answered. If Wright himself were to partake in this pub crawl, how far does he think he would actually make it.
“Oh, I would be out first. I would be out first because I’m a light weight. So, where the film goes beyond sci-fi comedy and into pure fantasy, is in the idea that I can actually drink 12 beers.”