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Nick Frost and Edgar Wright Interview, part 2

Nick learns about Wikipedia...

In Part 1, two of the three creative forces behind Hot Fuzz talked about beer in HD, reworking the film for TV and searching for fame in Starbuck's.

This next section talks about referencing action films and Nick Frost speaks of his actor's journey. Actually, he'd probably be annoyed at that pretension.

Read on...

Question: In your third film, is there another genre you're going to try to latch onto and pay tribute to, or do something completely different?

Edgar Wright: I think so. We try to come up with the story first, really. I'd hate it to be like we have a list of genres. I suppose we like making the kind of films that they don't make in the UK. There used to be such a great tradition of genre films in the UK in the sixties and seventies, and it just doesn't happen anymore.

That's really what we want to do. Certainly, we did the films that we do back home to do something that isn't coming out of the UK. It's a British spin on an existing genre. So it's not like we sat back and thought "god, cop movies really have it coming," after eight Police Academies. (laughs)

It's just that we wanted to produce our own spin on it, which was to do an English action film.

Question: Can you talk a little about Ant-Man and the other film?

Edgar Wright: No. (laughs) Only in that they're both being worked on at the moment, one of which I'm co-writing, and Them, which is not a remake of the giant ant film. It's an adaptation of a Jon Ronson book. It's something that I've been developing with Mike White. He's been writing that.

Nick Frost: So you're doing a film about a small ant and a big ant.

Edgar Wright: Yes.

Question: What about Scott Pilgrim?

Edgar Wright: That's another one that I'm writing at the moment. It's in progress as we speak, and we've been working with Bryan Lee O'Malley, the original creator, on that as well, which has been great.

Question: Have you read the next volume yet?

Edgar Wright: I have. I have some of it in my bag. I'm not going to show it to you. It's only some photocopied pieces of paper. He's great. I think Bryan is an amazing writer. He's got such a great voice; it's exciting to be working with him.

Question: Have you guys walked the floor yet?

Edgar Wright: This morning. We did an early run. We got in at exhibitors' time and got out at ten past ten.

Question: Did you buy anything?

Both: No. (Edgar laughs)

Edgar Wright: We got a couple of free comics. I don't know. I find it quite overwhelming being on the floor. There's so much stuff that I don't know where to start. I kind of gave up and went back to the hotel, fell asleep in front of Black Christmas on the hotel cable. You can quote me on that.

Question: Did you ever get overwhelmed in your research, trying to put in references to action films?

Edgar Wright: There's a trivia track on the DVD, which kind of explains everything. There are obviously very explicit references in the film like Point Break and Bad Boys II. The other kind of references are really kind of sly. With this one particularly, we tried to cover the entire genre, and there are aspects of so many different cop films.

There are really little details, like streets that are named after characters in films. Some of those are obvious and some of those are very obscure, like one of the streets is called Spencer Hill, which is a reference to Terence Hill and Bud Spencer. That's from Supercop, Superfly and Miami Supercops. One of your favorites, I'm sure.

There are less references in the film than people think. If you look at Wikipedia or IMDB, you'll find that people have read a lot more into the film and you see on Wikipedia it says things like "…in the climax of Hot Fuzz, Nicholas Angel opens the door much in the same way that Agent Smith does in Matrix: Revolutions." I'm thinking, "hmmmm."

Don't believe everything you read on Wikipedia. You didn't need to be told that, I'm sure.

Nick Frost: I did.

Edgar Wright: You did.

Question: Does it disappoint you to work so hard on a well-received film that audiences just love, and yet not have North American in-theater box office reflect that?

Edgar Wright: It doesn't disappoint us because by the time we got a release in the U.S. we'd already made our budget back like four times in the UK. From just a profit level, it was similar to Shaun of the Dead. It's nice that it was major in the UK and over here it's kind of a cult thing.

Good times...
DVDs kind of help that. Shaun of the Dead became more of a thing through DVD than it did the box office, and I feel it will be the same with this.

I think there's a thing in this day and age in the way box office is reported. It's all an obsession with three-day totals. If it doesn't open at number one then it's kind of nothing. That doesn't really account for sleepers and cult films.

If you look at some of your favorite films from twenty years ago, not many of them opened in the top three or top five. It doesn't really matter to me. As long as people like the film and it finds its audience, then that's great.

Obviously if it had cost like fifty million dollars and made twenty, then that would be a disaster. But it didn't. It cost fifteen and made eighty-five. So we're happy.

Question: Nick, I think your performance in the film is underrated, especially compared to the attention that Simon gets. From Spaced to Shaun of the Dead to this film, you've really matured as an actor. Do you think your experiences have helped you with that?

Nick Frost: Ummmm…yeah, I think I kind of think a little bit more about my job now. I was never an actor; I don't think I did any acting at all until Shaun of the Dead. Really up until that point, I was just pretending to be an actor. After that, I put more effort into it, I think.

You know what? I learned to enjoy it. I learned to enjoy the nerves and not feel as if it was the worst job in the world. But thank you.

Underrated by who?

Question: Isn't pretending to be an actor acting?

Nick Frost: Ahhhh…but I was thinking more about my pretense.

Edgar Wright: That was very zen-like. I like that. It's almost like that Starship Troopers thing - (hushed) If you pretend to be an actor, then you are.

I like it.

Question: After Shaun of the Dead, you got to meet George Romero and have cameos in Land of the Dead. Has Hot Fuzz opened any doors like that for you?

Nick Frost: Police officers. It opened police officers' doors.

Come on, Nick...Simon did it...
Question: Since Simon and Jessica (from Spaced) have both had them, when do you get your pivotal role in Doctor Who?

Nick Frost: I wouldn't do it.

Edgar Wright: Why not?

Nick Frost: I'm not a big Who fan. I'm sorry everyone. I would actively shun a role in it because everyone goes nuts for it.

Edgar Wright: I was asked to direct the first episode of the new series, and I didn't do it. I am a big Doctor Who fan, but I couldn't make it work. And my mum has never been more disappointed in me. She'll never let me forget that.

Question: Have you thought about jumping into a show?

Edgar Wright: I find it kind of difficult to jump into something. I tend to invest everything into what I'm doing. It's tricky to jump into something else that's pre-existing. I'd rather work on the first part of a show, and kind of set the trend.

That said, I'm always impressed when people do it. I was really impressed when Quentin Tarantino did that episode of CSI as the first thing after Kill Bill. To do a shoot for a year, and then CSI shoots for fifteen days.

So if it was the right thing, I'd do it.

Part 3 later this week...

Derek McCaw

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