The third installment of Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” invaded Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego, delighting fans with a spirited conversation between the director and his stars/real-life best friends Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
The packed house cheered wildly when The World’s End trailer was shown, along with a helpful overview of the Cornetto Trilogy (which comprises 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, 2007’s Hot Fuzz and next month’s The World’s End), including behind-the-scenes interviews and footage from the series.
For those not in the know regarding the Cornetto connection in the three films, Wright’s explanation should suffice. “There are bigger things that link the films, but the loosest one is that [Cornetto] ice cream is featured in all three,” he said. “When I was at college, I was hung over once – I had a Cornetto ice cream and I felt much better.” The flavors featured in each are indicative of the film’s themes: There’s the red of strawberry in Shaun (for blood), the blue original flavor in Hot Fuzz (for police) and the green of the mint chocolate-chip version in The World’s End (for aliens).
Wright joked, “Here's the thing: We had a Cornetto in the first film and we got free ice cream at the premiere, and then we thought, ‘Hey, if we write it into the next film, maybe we'll get free ice cream again!”
“We're going to do the Three Colors Aston Martin trilogy next,” Pegg deadpanned.
The crowd seemed to enjoy Wright’s pitch for The World’s End. “If you've ever watched Doctor Who and thought it would be funnier if the Doctor was really hammered, this is the movie for you!” said Wright, explaining that he should re-title it “Doctor Hootch.”
The film follows five friends who reunite in their hometown after a 20-year absence, only to embark on a pub crawl that unearths the residents are … compromised. Pegg refers to his character Gary as “a bit of a dick” who is “the villain of the film as much as he’s the hero.” He explained, “He’s a complete nutcase -- he got stuck in 1990, he never got out. He’s still dressing like a sad Goth.”
Pegg and Frost have spent nine cumulative years together through the trilogy, and they wanted to push themselves with this final installment. “I think Simon and I had to do something different in terms of the characters we played,” Frost said. “I didn't want people to just immediately think, ‘OK, there's the stoned idiot.’” Of his character Andrew, he said, “I got a chance to be an angry, buttoned-down hardnut!”
Even after 20 years of friendship, Frost and Pegg still manage to crack each other up during the most mundane situations. “We made each other laugh on a flight back from Dublin,” Frost said. “We kept saying, ‘Would you like a light meal?’ and we laughed for like an hour.” Always the one to add a quip, Pegg said of working on other sets with actors and directors who aren’t his best friends, “Sometimes you forget breaking wind isn’t funny to everybody.” As the crowd roared, Frost piped in, “I think it has International appeal.”
The three have been busy with their individual careers since Shaun of the Dead premiered, but they come back together to work on the trilogy. “It’s nice to go away and do other stuff,” Pegg said. “This film is kind of about friends reuniting -- we haven't made a film all three of us together in six years. It was like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers.”
Bringing it a step beyond, again, Frost said, “It's like having a brief love affair and then coming back to your marriage -- and it makes it stronger.”
“Of course we’ll work together again,” Pegg said, “but we want this to be a solid little trilogy.” He also divulged that he and Wright fit in time to write the film’s screenplay while Pegg was shooting Star Trek Into Darkness. “It’s not like we don’t fill our time,” he said. “It’s quite a long process.” “We’re like the Halley’s Comet of British comedy!” Frost exclaimed.
During the audience Q&A, a fan wanted to know how often Frost and Pegg improvise dialogue while filming. “Anything that we find in rehearsal that’s funny, it usually goes into the shooting script,” Frost said. “We don't really have enough time to hang around and improvise. We have a laugh, sure, but we don't improvise hardly at all.” “It’s always important for us to come to set with a script that's nailed down,” Pegg added. “We're very anal is what I’m saying.”
When asked how audiences can turn The World’s End into a drinking game, Wright responded, “It is the easiest drinking game of all time: Take a drink every time one of the characters takes a drink!”
The biggest of the film’s challenges included – as Wright called them – “the most punishing fight scenes yet.” “They took days and days to shoot,” Pegg said. “We devised a new martial art called Pub Fu. They were grueling but fantastic fun – I broke my hand! I was jumping over a bar and it snapped and I did six more takes on it because Edgar hadn't got the shot yet.”
Another audience member asked the trio if they’d revisit their earliest collaboration, Spaced.
“Maybe you should sit down,” Frost said.
“I don’t think we will,” Wright said. “I think one of the things about Spaced is that it’s about the joys of being young. I want to sort of leave them as 26 forever.”
“I worry that we'd retroactively spoil what we did,” Pegg admitted. “We kind of wanted to do a third series back in the day … it was just a timing issue. If we add to it now, it could ruin it. It’s nice to just leave it how it was. It’s a show that I’m so proud of, and I look back on extremely fondly. But I don't think it's going to happen again.”
Frost, laughing, chimed in, “I think the thing we're kind of missing here is they fucking couldn't afford me right now.”
The World’s End invades theaters Aug. 23.