Edgar Wright, Nick Frost talk 'World's End'

Posted: August 23, 2013

WHEN THE "Shaun of the Dead" gang decided it was last call for their planned trilogy, they decided to make a pub-crawl epic.

About an epic pub crawl. And in "The World's End" it is the pub crawl to end all pub crawls.

At the risk, admits director Edgar Wright, of invoking British stereotypes.

"I think the rest of the world thinks all British people are drunks," he deadpanned, "and I think that's only 75 percent accurate."

"Or sexual failures," adds Nick Frost, Wright's collaborator and one of the film's stars.

"That's actually 100 percent accurate," cracks Wright.

It all started at a bar. Nine years ago Wright directed BBC sitcom pals Frost and Simon Pegg in "Shaun of the Dead," the story of two buddies who wait out a zombie apocalypse at the local watering hole.

The movie was a sleeper smash in the United States and made stars of its leads (Frost is now the default Nick on the imdb.com drop-down menu, ahead of Nick Nolte). Pegg went into character and actor hyperspace - two "Star Trek" movies and a "Mission: Impossible." In the midst of it all, they're-teamed with Wright to make the cop-buddy "Hot Fuzz."

Now their careers are pulling them in different directions. Wright is about to start work on the comic-book adaptation "Ant-Man" - so they're making their last planned movie as a trio.

And it's . . . different.

"I'm reluctant to use the word dark, because I feel like 'Shaun' and even 'Hot Fuzz' have their elements of darkness," said Wright. "But it's more honest and raw. If you set up a character as having a problem, you can't glorify it."

That character is Gary King (Pegg), and his problem is alcoholism. The prologue shows him as a promising high-school student who likes to party. Cut to 40-something Gary in 12-step - haggard, desperate and broke.

"We looked at Gary as somebody from a legendary band, a carouser, one of those guys you look at and you say, I can't believe he's still alive."

Gary can't move forward, so in "The World's End" he is determined to move backward. He gathers former high-school mates (Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan) for a hometown reunion, a chance to complete the pub crawl they started on graduation day.

Wright has begged the press to preserve spoilers (though the TV spots give much away), and is willing to say only that Gary faces much pressure in the movie, from friends and others, to "conform to a more efficient society."

Certainly he seems a mess, but Wright and Frost see something admirable in his arrested development.

"I'd argue against him being inefficient," Frost said. "In his own way, he's ultra efficient, all that plate spinning or order to get people to go along with his idea, keeping all those lies straight."

"That's true," Wright says. "An alcoholic, in his own way, has to be very organized to be successful."

Wright wouldn't describe Gary as a success, but the character does turn his vices into virtues, of sorts, in the movie's bizarre finale.

"We wanted Gary to be a walking car crash, but we also wanted to give him a shot at redemption, and it has to do with the idea of being flawed, of being human, and embracing that," Wright said.

That was easy for Wright, Frost and Pegg, who see the stuck, hapless Gary as guy like them, but without the lucky breaks.

"Simon and I put a lot of that stuff into Gary - this is how we would be if we'd been a lot less fortunate. This is definitely the most personal of the three films for us."

Wright said others identify with Gary as well.

"We get two types of notes. It really resonated with me because I know that guy, or it really resonated with me because I am that guy.

Said Frost: "Half the people leave the theater wanting a pint, half leave the theater and never want to drink again."

Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

Online: ph.ly/Movies

comments powered by Disqus