'The World's End' marks last call for trilogy
05:00 AM, Aug 22, 2013
LOS ANGELES It’s the rare alien-invasion movie that centers around an epic pub crawl.
That’s why explaining the concept behind The World’s End, where a troubled man spurs on an alien-led apocalypse during his beer-drenched journey, can be challenging for its stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright.
“I just thought of this,” says Wright, sitting upright at a bar table with his two collaborators. “Our main character starts in an encounter group and ends up in a close encounter.”
As Frost and Pegg applaud, Wright throws his hand up in victory, let’s out a “Yes!” and walks away from the table announcing, “I’m quitting while I’m ahead.”
Actually, The World’s End, opening Friday in select cities, marks the beginning of the end of a successful pub-centered trilogy of sorts for the English trio.
After all, their breakthrough 2004 hit Shaun of the Dead featured Pegg and Frost as drinking buddies fighting off zombie hordes from their local pub The Winchester. And 2007’sHot Fuzz was a police spoof taking place in a seemingly idyllic British town where pub life played a central role.
This time they take it to an entirely new level as Pegg’s brilliantly underachieving Gary King manipulates his former school pals (a posse that includes Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine) to re-create an unfinished 12-pub crawl that had marked the height of their youth.
“We’re British, and the pub forms a very important part of our cultural heritage,” says Pegg. “And here the journey ends up being an Arthurian quest, while also representing the 12 stations of recovery.”
The premise allowed Pegg, 43, Frost, 41, and Wright, 39, to elicit lager-soaked laughs and stamp a final mark on a trilogy theme of perpetual adolescence a concept they feel is glorified in current comedies.
“In a lot of these man-child comedies, something nice always happens in the end, like (the main character) ends up opening a boutique bakery,” says Frost. “All’s well that ends well.”
This film addresses real issues and consequences, despite the poster’s bawdy boasting of “One Night. Six Friends. Twelve Pubs. Total Annihilation.” (The sixth pal is Sam, the sister of one of the posse, played by Rosamund Pike.) It reflects the trio’s more mature outlook as each has grown up and has families.
Pegg says he even became a “teetotaler when I was 40 and I became a dad. I don’t think it’s a celebration of drinking at all. At the heart of it is a guy who deeply has a problem. And it’s destroyed his life. That’s not an endorsement.”
“We like to think of the film as dark chocolate with sea salt in it,” says Wright. “It’s a chocolaty treat, and every once in a while there’s a little bitter mouthful.”
They are united in the opinion that The World’s End ultimately is a celebration of friendship, both onscreen and off. Pegg started his career so broke that he shared a bed with Frost in a London apartment. Now he’s a mainstay in Hollywood blockbuster franchises (Scotty in Star Trek and Benji Dunn in Mission: Impossible).
The trio vow to collaborate again, but will explore different themes.
“This is not the 12th beer in terms of our work together,” says Pegg. “We fully intend to do more.”
“If we don’t release a film in the next five or six years, that’s fine,” adds Frost. “But right now this is an event. People are excited that we are releasing another film. And that’s a good thing.”