Edgar Wright talks “THE WORLD’S END” antagonists—and bars
For U.S. fans of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, the wait’s end is here: THE WORLD’S END, the latest collaboration between Brits Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is now in theaters (see review here). Read on for exclusive comments from director/co-writer Wright about the film’s otherworldly beings and Earthbound settings.
THE WORLD’S END stars co-scripter Pegg as Gary King, a 40something who hasn’t grown up since his teen years and tries to complete a once-attempted epic pub crawl with four of his old friends, who have (including Frost’s Andy, the most initially reluctant of the group). What they discover when they return to their old stamping grounds in suburban Newton Haven is a populace that seems odd at first, then outright threatening, and soon prove to not even be human. Wright tells Fango that he drew from a couple of childhood influences when conceiving these antagonists.
“When I was a kid,” he says, “I had action figures, and I used to—and I’m sure everybody’s done this—pulled them apart and took their heads and arms off, and something about that really struck me. It was a combination of that and the skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS; I’ve always liked the idea that they keep on going even when they’ve got no heads or arms, and they’re sort of unstoppable automatons. So I wanted to do something like that, where the foes are actually quite easily breakable but absolutely relentless; that would make for quite interesting and weird fight scenes.”
The many bizarre and hilarious brawls between Gary, Andy and co. and the inhuman attackers take place throughout the pubs they’ve come to crawl, each christened with a name (The Old Familiar, The Cross Hands, etc.) that serves as a clue to what will take place inside it. “That’s similar to the scene in SHAUN OF THE DEAD where Nick Frost basically tells [the story of] the whole movie,” Wright explains. “It’s the speech in the Winchester where he gives his plan of drinking the next morning, and he basically lays out the plot. The Internet [community] kind of figured it out, and I talked about it on the [disc] commentary; he says, ‘First thing, we’re going to have a Bloody Mary, then we’re going to have a bite at King’s Head, grab a couple of Little Princesses and then head back to the Winchester for shots at the bar.’ We always liked that idea, and for THE WORLD’S END we thought, ‘We should treat the pub names like tarot cards.’ So the name of each one basically tells you something that’s going to happen within it. Some are more subtle than others, but the idea is to give you some inkling of what’s going to happen within that bar.”
What happens within those pubs may be fanciful, but Wright says, “I think nine out of the 12 pubs were actual locations, and three of them were sets. We shot in two towns about an hour north of London: Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth Garden City. They were both built at the turn of the century, and were originally, ironically, Quaker towns, so they were dry and without bars. But we were really taken with them because they were the first sort of garden cities, and they have very interesting and distinctive architecture, and we wanted to capture that particular eerie look. Also, both the original QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and QUATERMASS II were shot in High Wycombe, and we shot some scenes there as well. They were all built around the same time, post-WWI.”
Pick up Fango #326, now on sale, for more from Wright as well as Pegg on THE WORLD’S END.