Edgar Wright Panel at MCM London Comic Con May 2013

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One of the key events this weekend at the MCM London Comic Con was the presence of Edgar Wright, famed writer/director of such films as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as well as working on TV shows such as Spaced.

Wright was at the convention to help promote his upcoming movie The World’s End, which he co-wrote and directed, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film is the final part of the “Three Colours Cornetto Trilogy”, thematically connected through different-flavoured Cornettos. Before the panel, attendees were treated to the latest trailer for the film, which inspired laughter and applause thanks to Wright’s kinetic film-making style combined with the brilliance of the cast.

the-worlds-end-poster-uk-quadThe World’s End is currently five weeks away from being complete, with a release in the UK on July 18th. Wright was inspired in part by a pub-crawl he attempted while growing up in Somerset. At the panel he recalled how there were 15 pubs in total, and he only made it to the sixth before he blacked out.

Taking such memories and adding more meat to the skeleton, Wright helped create the screenplay for The World’s End alongside Simon Pegg. To the huddled masses at Comic Con, Wright told the story of how while doing promotion for Hot Fuzz he began to throw around the idea of a script he wrote when he was 21. The script was called “Crawl” and it followed a bunch of youths trying to do a pub-crawl. From there he shared the groundwork for the idea with long-time collaborator Simon Pegg while at a baggage carousel at an airport.

They decided to take “Crawl” and channel that into the set-up for the script – where the youth fail to complete a pub-crawl – and then follow those characters when they are adults. It is very much like how in Shaun of the Dead, despite the fact zombies are introduced in the second act, the initial idea of the relationship comedy follows through to conclusion. Here, the idea of finishing the epic pub-crawl continues, despite the rather otherworldly distractions.

While that spirit is seen in The World’s End, Edgar explained that there were still some slight deviations from the formula this time around. For one thing, the characters are quite different from the ones Pegg and Frost have played previously. For one thing, Pegg’s character Gary King is much more a former “king of the castle” trying to recapture his youth – unlike that of a character such as Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz, who played it straight.

Nick Frost has also seen a dynamic shift in The World’s End. As opposed to playing a slacker or a childish action-movie fan, his character this time around is a family man, a lawyer and a teetotaller. Edgar seemed to be keen to mix up the formula and keep it fresh. 

This also led into the fact that instead of writing another buddy film, The World’s End is more a tale about five people getting back to where they once were in life. It’s more of an ensemble, gathering together other key actors such as Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan to work against Pegg and Frost. Wright even joked that after increasing the role Martin Freeman has played in his films each time, The Hobbit proved that he was ready for a lead role in The World’s End.

Action, as always, plays a very strong part in the DNA of the latest film. Wright is once again collaborating with Brad Allen, who he worked with for fight choreography on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wright was quick to note that the action is very different from Scott Pilgrim‘s in the way the characters fight. A very clever detail he described was the whole logic (or lack thereof) that comes with increased drinking. The further down the line, the more invulnerable the characters think they are. Wright cited Jackie Chan’s classic movie Drunken Master as an inspiration – where Chan’s character could only really fight when he was drunk.

scott-pilgrim-vs-the-world-posterScott Pilgrim vs. the World was brought up in the Q&A a few times. Wright described how much of a symbiotic relationship working on the movie with creator Bryan Lee O’Malley was, where the first draft for the film was written when only three books were out, and Wright and O’Malley’s works both grew together, influenced each other, and even borrowed from each other. Original ideas unused in the comics were included in the film, and lines from the film were used in the graphic novels.

A member of the audience, from Wright’s hometown of Wells, asked him about getting out of the small city – but not before Wright asked her about doing the same pub-crawl he tried, to which the attendee said they hadn’t (and couldn’t…yet). After some laughter, Wright began to describe how he had no contacts in the industry, so instead he just entered competitions and made his own short films to get noticed.

He said that things are much easier now in the advent of YouTube and Vimeo, but Wright reminisced of one memorable time where he was on Going Live! with Philip Schofield when he was 16 thanks to his film-making efforts.

Wright gave a top tip for directing: make mistakes. Don’t try to make Citizen Kane first time (unless you can), and know that it won’t be perfect. He also said that through writing your own scripts you know exactly what you want, which in turn helps with actors and directing them. Wright explained how he wrote a draft of the script where the characters’ names were replaced by the actors’ names, which helped Wright tweak each line specifically for the specific actor and their voice.

Several other questions were asked and answered. Wright said he would love to work with Simon and Nick again in the future, the Cornetto trilogy only being named so through their ice-cream connection, not the end of a collaboration.

Wright also revealed that while offered a few in the past, he has no real interest in video game adaptations, let alone thinking that there hasn’t even been a good adaptation out there. He mused that maybe Duncan Jones might change things with World of Warcraft, but he admitted it wasn’t quite for him. 

His favourite episode of Spaced is the fifth episode of the second season, in which the characters go to Camden and have that memorable imaginary gunfight that has become iconic and imitated from the show. A later question asked whether he’d revisit Spaced, but he said it probably wouldn’t come back, since he felt it would be for the best if those characters stayed young.

Out of the entire process of filming, Wright feels that filming is actually the least enjoyable. He sang the praises of the writing and editing processes, but he just didn’t find filming as enjoyable. When asked whether he’d return to TV, Wright said that he’d like to if he had a suitable project and he had a few ideas banging about, but nothing has solidified just yet. He also joked that because of the vicious nature towards the Star Wars prequels, Wright felt he wouldn’t be offered a Star Wars movie to direct.

And no, he couldn’t say anything about Ant-Man.

A few other questions passed, but one of the best was saved for last: What is Edgar Wright’s favourite out of the Three Colours Cornetto Trilogy – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or The World’s End? He couldn’t pick a favourite, but he did name his favourite flavour of Cornetto.

Mint.

The World’s End corresponds to mint-flavoured Cornetto. Will it be our favourite cinematic flavour? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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2 Comments

  1. AmberGrindstaff says:

    Did anyone film this expo event?

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