Entering a hotel room to interview Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is like barging in on three best friends who happen to be on vacation — except there aren’t clothes all over the floor and the hotel is the Ritz Carlton. Sitting down with them to talk is like popping yourself into a conversation that has been going on for years; though it’s pretty simple to slide right in on topics such as the powers of a really great moustache and the top cop movies of all time.
So sitting down with them to discuss their newest film "Hot Fuzz" — which is already the sixth top-grossing comedy of all time in their native land of England and a perfect follow up to their "romantic zombie comedy," "Shaun of the Dead" — felt more like meeting some friends at the pub and discussing the actual merits of "Bad Boys II."
The film, written by Wright (who also directed) and Pegg, stars Pegg as a big city cop who is forced to move to a small English town because he’s too good at his job and makes the rest of the force look bad. There he is partnered with the bumbling Frost, who has a passionate love for police action films. But something is amiss in this quiet burg, and what starts out as a slight cop comedy turns into a perfectly pitched over-the-top parody.
<cl>You guys pretty much got your start together on the British comedy series "Spaced." Why hasn’t it been released in the US other than on BBC America?
<bt>Edgar: Well we hope there will be one at one point. I think they did some pretty heavy editing to it for the BBC America release too. I think it has something to do with music rights getting in place.
Simon: Isn’t there a code you can put in that makes your DVD player multi regional? You just type it in?
Nick: I don’t know.
Edgar: Well there, just get an overseas copy…legally.
Simon: You know what? We didn’t discuss this at all. Probably better that way.
<cl>"Shaun of the Dead" was clearly influenced by classic zombie horror films. What were the influences for "Hot Fuzz?"
<bt>Edgar: Spy films. Specifically we were watching cop films. Simon and I watched hundreds. We also spent a lot of time talking with actual cops all over England.
Nick: They gave me a few to watch for homework, though I can’t say I was as diligent as I should have been.
<cl>The film has some pretty violent scenes. Any horror references this time around?
<bt>Edgar: Not really that many horror references. There is a good tradition of horror and gore in the 70’s sort of mystery cop movies. We watched Agatha Christie films, like "Death on the Nile."
Simon: Yeah, we watched all the Agatha Christie films. What you notice is a lot a sort of hairpin logic. Like someone has to be standing exactly at a correct spot for a murder to take place but there is no way you could actually plan that. We tried to play off that in the movie.
<cl>What did you gain from your researching with the police around England?
<bt>Edgar: Well a lot of the parts in the movie were inspired by real events at some of the smaller police stations. Like the swan escaping and the idea that if someone does something wrong they have to bring in food for the rest of the people in the station.
Simon: Edgar and myself went down to the stations in London and the rural area and talked to everyone. It wasn’t like an episode of "Cops," though, where we went along.
Edgar: In the city it’s very active; the towns are a bit more wholesome, more domestic crime.
Simon: Cops will also see stuff before everyone else. There is always something going on. There is badness on every street corner. You’re never off duty.
Edgar: We asked them what part of being a police officer the movies never show and the all answered "paperwork" so we wanted to put that in the movie.
<cl>How did you do that?
<bt>Edgar: A lot of the kind of the modern action films we watched have become a really sort of over-stylized montage. I wanted to take the boring parts of the job like paperwork that you never see and make them seem like they were action. So I made those sequences look like that sort of film, with a lot of stylized cutting and montage.
<cl>Is flying through the air in slow motion while shooting two guns really as cool as it looks?
<bt>Nick: It was the greatest half day of my life. You can really only get two or three shots out though so it’s kind of hard.
Edgar: You just keep cutting. We pretty much shot it about 15 times.
Simon: When you’re landing on a crash mat the shells all go down there and they are hot, it can hurt a bit. But that’s always been the dream ever since I saw "Hard Boiled."
<cl>The movies you mention in the film that inspired shots like that aren’t always the cream of the crop. "Bad Boys II" for instance. You couldn’t come up with anything better?
<bt>Nick: Well these are Danny Butterman’s (Nick’s character) favorite films not exactly the best, but I don’t know why everyone is so hard on it I quite liked the action.
Simon: It’s really a commitment to absurdity. Anything that spends a lot of money destroying things can’t be bad. You can’t go wrong with smashing up. We wanted to say that it’s OK to switch off your brain. There is a place for that and it’s called the movies.
Edgar: We’re not saying that something like "Bad Boys II" is equal to, say, "Volver" but you can watch both and enjoy them.
Simon: Pop culture gets a rough deal from the illuminati.
<cl>So what is your favorite cop move?
<bt>Simon: Hmmm. The first Dirty Harry, the "Super Cop" movies. But as far as action films go "Die Hard" is hard to top.
<cl>You have an amazing cast for the film from Timothy Dalton to Jim Broadbent. How did they all get involved?
<bt>Edgar: A lot of people got on board because of the script and "Shawn of the Dead." Some actors came to see us beforehand but everybody had seen "Shawn of the Dead."
Simon: To shoot scenes with such diverse company was incredible. Timothy Dalton was a joy and he even said to me that this was the most fun he had shooting a movie; and I looked at him kind of shocked because he had done Bond films.
Nick: Timothy always smelt very good. Like leather and wealth.
Simon: We had to convince him not to shave his mustache, that it was the key to his powers.