Having conquered the hipster precincts of the world with their 2004 "Shaun of the Dead" — the first zombie-centric romantic comedy — Brit filmmakers Simon Pegg (he writes and stars), Edgar Wright (he writes and directs) and Nick Frost (soulful sidekick and sometime writer, too) have moved on to deconstructing the action-movie genre with their second feature, "Hot Fuzz." It's a bang-boom-crash cop flick in the classic tradition, but it's crammed into a tiny English town that's as quiet and genteel as a tea cosey — although not for long. It's a very funny picture, and it features some heavy-duty actors (Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Timothy Dalton), along with a couple of moonlighting Oscar-winners in uncredited cameos. (Keep an eye out for Cate Blanchett and director Peter Jackson.)
Pegg, Wright and Frost occasionally branch out a bit on their own (Pegg had a role in last year's "Mission: Impossible III"), but they're already planning a third movie together (a comic sci-fi feature), and given their in-synch comic telepathy, let's hope they remain a team for a good while longer.
(Watch Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright explain what inspired the British buddy-cop flick, and check out an exclusive clip of "Hot Fuzz" — plus hilarious bloopers of the film's stars struggling to introduce it.)
Kurt Loder: What was the inspiration for "Hot Fuzz"?
Edgar Wright: Well, there are very few British cop movies. British cops aren't really perceived as being cool — they don't have guns and they wear sweaters and some of their hats look stupid. This has meant that the British bobby has never had a chance to be badass. So to counteract the huge wave of British gangster films, we wanted to make a British cop film.
Simon Pegg: We also want to make Hollywood movies, but not have to leave home. We can just make them in our backyard.
Loder: Nick, is it true there was a love interest in the movie originally, but she was dropped and you got her dialogue?
Nick Frost: Yeah, I did.
Pegg: We realized where the romance truly was.
Frost: Well, you know, the criticism often leveled at me is that I'm very effete, so maybe that helped.
Pegg: With these buddy-cop movies, the central relationship is always between the two guys, and it's often very romantic. Watch "Lethal Weapon" again. It is such a sweet romance between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. I mean, at the end, Mel's stripped to the waist, being cradled by Danny, who's saying, "I've got you." And the rain dripping off Mel's rippling torso...
Loder: Are you all real-life action-movie fans, or did you have to bone up?
Pegg: We did study, but there was a pre-existing love. We did a refresher course and we watched about 138 cop movies before we started writing, just to refresh our memories about the language of that kind of cinema.
Wright: It's nice to kind of immerse yourself in all the clichés and the thriller conventions. And we love making films in the U.K. that just don't get made there, because there isn't a tradition of genre filmmaking anymore. Most of the films coming out of the U.K. are fishing for Oscars — you know, "classy" films.
Pegg: We do classy so well in the U.K.
Loder: Well, now your little genre films are getting major international attention.
Wright: Having an international success with "Shaun of the Dead" encouraged us to stick with our guts. I think many people try to make films for an international audience, and they end up being a bit half-hearted, you know? They make films that are kind of transatlantic, and I don't think European audiences like it and I don't think American audiences like it, either.
Pegg: With "Shaun of the Dead," it was nice to make a film that was so resolutely British and have the American audience really embrace it, and get it completely. There's this big myth that we all have a different sense of humor — that people in America don't get certain things that people in Britain do. But in fact it's far more global, and I think you have to assume your audience is intelligent and has got a good sense of humor.
Frost: We're not so different, you and I.
Loder: Nick, is it hard being a foil?
Frost: No, not really. Because as Edgar and Simon are writin' the script, they're generous enough to give me a lot of the good lines. It's never been about us as individuals, I don't think. We're a team of people making films.
Loder: How far back do you and Simon go?
Frost: We've been best friends for about 15 years. We lived together for eight years and then his wife took him away from me, so ...
Pegg: Don't bring that up. Nick was a waiter when I met him, and everyone thought he was really funny and should be a comic. And I was a standup, so I took him out to some gigs, and he sort of tried his hand at that. And then I wrote this sitcom with a friend of mine, which Edgar went on to direct, and I wrote Nick a part in it because I thought, "This guy is so funny." You know: "I'm a comic and the funniest person I know isn't one." And I foisted him on the world. Slightly against his will.
Loder: Nick, has fame gotten overwhelming for you yet?
Frost: It can be a bit tricky sometimes.
Pegg: You've got an extra lock on your castle now.
Frost: I do have an extra lock on the portcullis. But, you know, it's quite tough to go have a pint in a pub. Which is fine, it's nice; but I have noticed it more.
Loder: Do you guys have any favorite action-movie clichés?
Pegg: Good slow-mo is great. I remember coming here to see "The
Phantom Menace" in 2000 — I was such a big "Star Wars" fan, I flew over to see it. And I have to say I was gutted. I came out of the cinema in tears, and I went to see "The Matrix," which I hadn't heard about, to cheer myself up. And the lobby sequence in that really revived me. It was like defibrillation after seeing "The Phantom Menace."
Frost: I always like to see a power boat going through a billboard.
Wright: I like to see somebody drop-kicked out of a window. I think you can never go wrong with a scene like that.
Loder: What's the most recent great action movie that you've seen?
Pegg: Watching "300," one of the clever things about that film was that it was like being a teenager with a remote control. 'Cause all the bits that you wanted to see slow went slow, do you know what I mean? I quite like that approach to action directing. It really relishes the spectacular moments.
Wright: I kind of enjoyed "Crank." It was like "Run Lola Run" with Red Bull. It was the most testosterone-driven film I've ever seen.
Pegg: With our very own Jason Statham!
Wright: Ripping it up!
Loder: What do you think about some of today's action franchises, like the "Bourne" pictures?
Pegg: I think you wouldn't have the current incarnation of Bond if it wasn't for the Bourne franchise. It's set the standard for your sort of butt-kicking spy type. I think Matt Damon really inhabits those films well. He's a great leading man.
Loder: What about the "Mission: Impossible" movies?
Pegg: I spoiled "Mission: Impossible III" for me.
Frost: And me.
Wright: Well, it was more of a team film, which was good. 'Cause the first two "Mission: Impossible"s were all about the Cruiser. In the third one, they actually did what the TV series did — they had the team, which was cool.
Loder: What would you do with the Harry Potter movies?
Wright: I think I'd like to see Daniel Radcliffe naked and mutilating horses.
Pegg: That's what he's doing in the West End. "Equus" is a very established play, and it's notoriously sort of weighty, and yet they really are selling it with the fact that it features Harry Potter naked. There were so many headlines about his wand in the British papers.
Frost: They've had to paint his scar out.
Pegg: There's a new space in the car park for his broomstick.
Loder: Are you excited that there's going to be a "Mad Max 4"?
Pegg: I don't know. The third one was like an episode of "The Muppet Show." But this seems to be a time for a reinvention of '80s films, with Rocky and Rambo and Indiana Jones and now Mad Max.
Wright: Something tells me that Mel Gibson isn't quite as cool as he used to be. I don't know what it is. Apparently some things have happened recently.
Pegg: It's going to be called "Mad Max 4: I'm So Sorry."
Wright: I just want Mad Max to get pulled over by the Malibu police. I think that would make for an interesting end to the film. "Hey, I own post-apocalyptic Malibu, for God's sake!"
Loder: I imagine your next movie will have a bigger budget. What do you want to do with it?
Frost: I don't think we smashed enough cars up.
Wright: I think definitely more destruction.
Pegg: We haven't kicked enough old people in the face.
Wright: More cars being smashed up. More explosions.
Frost: I want to fire a bazooka. Perhaps at a car full of old people.
Pegg: I want two trailers. One for the chef. I haven't changed.
Loder: Okay, last question: Is there any action movie that's so bad it's unwatchable.
Wright: I'd say "Silent Rage" with Chuck Norris is pretty poor.
Pegg: Yeah, but it's watchable.
Wright: It is watchable. Not many of them are unwatchable.
Pegg: There are bad exponents of the genre, obviously. What's that one we watched — "Invasion USA"?
Wright: "Invasion USA," yeah. But that's kind of entertaining as well. Because he kills the guy at the end with a rocket launcher.
Check out everything we've got on "Hot Fuzz."
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