Edgar Wright Interviewed – HOT FUZZ

     April 10, 2007

I don’t know what else I can write about Hot Fuzz that you haven’t already heard me say. It’s one of the best films you’re going to see all year and it’ll make you laugh your ass off from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

The film is from the makers of Shaun of the Dead – which if you haven’t seen – should be at the top of your Netflix list immediately. And just like Shaun, it stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and it’s directed by Edgar Wright. But while Shaun took on Zombie’s, Hot Fuzz takes on the American action film.

Here is the synopsis from the studio:

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He’s so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel’s superiors send him to a place where his talents won’t be quite so embarrassing — the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford.

Once there, he is partnered with the well-meaning but overeager police officer Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). The son of amiable Police Chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be a real-life “bad boy,” and his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. Angel is quick to dismiss this as childish fantasy and Danny’s puppy-like enthusiasm only adds to Angel’s growing frustration.

However, as a series of grisly accidents rocks the village, Angel is convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and as the intrigue deepens, Danny’s dreams of explosive, high-octane, car-chasing, gunfighting, all-out action seem more and more like a reality.

It’s time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice.

Written by Pegg and director Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz reteams Pegg and Frost alongside a killer cast. In addition to Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, the stellar lineup of talent includes Paddy Considine (In America), Steve Coogan (Night at the Museum), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights), Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), Lucy Punch (The Class), Anne Reid (The Mother), Billie Whitelaw (The Omen), Stuart Wilson (The Mask of Zorro), Edward Woodward (The Equalizer), and plenty of surprises.

During the interview Edgar gives updates about what’s he working on, is Spaced ever going to get released in the U.S., why Domino was such an influence on Hot Fuzz, and he covers a ton more. If you are a fan of Edgar’s you’ll dig the interview.

And I strongly recommend listening to the interview as Edgar is much better when you’re hearing him speak. So click here if you’d like to download or just listen to the interview as an MP3. If you’d just like to read it the transcription is below.

And if you haven’t seen a trailer yet click here. Hot Fuzz opens April 20th.

Edgar discuses a few of the surprise appearances in the movie…you are warned.

Edgar Wright: Look at all this. Hang on I’m going to be a bit OCD here (he grabs all the recorders and lines them up) Hang on a second, this is kind of like a game.

Question: Are you like this on the set all the time?

You know what I kind of realized that I did that all the time in restaurants and stuff with kind of placemats and stuff and putting them together. I remember seeing that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David pretends to have OCD and starts doing that and I said that’s what I do. Maybe I have OCD. There you go.

Can you talk a little bit about shooting the end of this film? That’s seemed bigger than Shaun of the Dead. Was it like oh my God all of the shootouts and everything. Was it a challenge for you?

Yes, absolutely. The film cost like twice as much as Shaun of the Dead but the ambition in the script is probably 5 times that in terms of the amount of characters and the sort of like the plot and the action. It was really tough and a real challenge and I came out of it with even more respect for the action directors that I love. Doing that stuff is really tough and doing it in the UK with the terrible weather was even worse. What’s funny is in that end shootout in the town square is that we never really had the roads closed off. We didn’t really have the money to close down. It’s kind of like the center of that town so what’s funny is that if you imagine every shot where you see if you can imagine behind the camera 50 school children and old ladies watching. It’s really, really surreal. You have lots of French exchange students coming through all the time. It’s really crazy.

The style was so intense throughout the whole movie even in the paperwork scene. How hard was it to maintain that?

Well, all the stuff I’d done before like has been like from Spaced to Shaun of the Dead has been visually very dense and I kind of like things being really snappy and having lots of transitions and stuff. Given that this was in the sort of cop/action genre and given the way that cinema has gone with Tony Scott and Michael Bay in the last 10 years. It was gift to go completely over the top. So I really enjoyed …I’m probably the sole member of the Domino fan club.

I know someone…

Oh, another one. What about you? No, he’s out. Me and you against the world.

It’s not me it’s someone I know.

Oh, someone you know? Jerry Bruckheimer?

I have a friend who loves Domino, but you explain your passion for it.

With the recent Tony Scott films, I just like the fact that a 60 year old director is directing like a 20 year old. Man on Fire, the direction of it is absolutely crazy. I think it’s too easy to dismiss him as an MTV sort of director. I think it does him a disservice. It is like style over content sometimes but the style is fucking amazing. I’m just a big film fan and I don’t get snooty about different films because I appreciate different films for what they are. You can have something with long held steady cam shots and you can have Domino. There’s room for both. So it was fun doing this because say the paperwork thing you mentioned, the idea for that was taking the most boring aspect of like cop work and making it so amped up and so it was funny doing those scenes and that was exactly the intention of sort of ….when we conceived the idea there’s a show in the UK called Heartbeats which is kind of like a really boring cop show about a cop in the country and it’s sort of like Sunday afternoon TV. Our thing was what it Tony Scott had to direct Heartbeat. So it was to take a really sleepy mundane end of the cop work and amp it up. And we did research with real police officers whilst we were writing. We interviewed lots and lots of police officers both over the phone and in person. We went around London to some of the rougher neighborhoods and we went down to the country as well and we had this questionnaire for all of them and one of the questions was which part of the job have you never seen dramatized on the screen and every single one of them said the paperwork is 50% of the job. It’s like being a teacher actually teaching the kids is like half of it the rest of it is going (he starts scribbling away)….So with that in mind and I remember vividly we went to one rural station and there was this tiny room, smaller than this with like 8 police officers were all like hunched over their things kind of going like that. There were all in their star vests and stuff and it was just this forlorn image of these officers doing their paperwork. So that’s was the idea of that. Let’s make the paperwork the most exciting bit in the film to really amp it up.

How much of that is the British sort of take on this genre and how much of it was specifically filtering these American movies like Bad Boys 2, and such with British Sensibilities.

Oh, the whole thing is that basically. In a way Hot Fuzz is on one hand very British and the other hand trying to be very American and that’s kind of the joke. The film kind of mutates half the way through and it’s that point half way though were they watch Point Break and Bad Boys 2 after that it starts to go off the scale. That’s the idea really is that’s kind of like the turning point in the film. Our idea was that they fall asleep during Bad Boys 2 which is quite amazing. I had this idea that Bad Boys 2 was the loudest film ever but Danny and Angel fell asleep during it. I had the idea like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix is like this Nicholas Angel is asleep but Bad Boys 2 is filtered into his brain. You know if you fall asleep with the TV on and you start dreaming about what’s on TV, is the idea is that he didn’t see the last half of the film but he heard it. He woke up and now he knows Kung Fu.

Nick Angel is the name of your music composer, so is that just kind of a homage to him?


Why him as opposed to anyone else you know?

Well, his name, Nick Angel, sounds like a great cop. That was the thing even before we had the idea for the film we had a meeting with him and when he left the room I said Simon, Nick Angel is one good cop. So that was it. We never refer to him as Nick in the film. He’s never referred to as Nick. He was really pleased we name-jacked him. Then during the film he started to freak out a little bit because he thought he was going to get the piss ripped out of him for the next 20 years. Now you see at the start of the film Nick Angel’s commendations–those certificates of like outstanding work on operation crack down and Nick Angel’s got one of those on his wall.

I was going to ask Scott Pilgrim, Them, Mike White what’s going on with that whole bunch…..

Ask Mike. He’s next door.

We’ll speak with him later today.

The Mike White one is Them.

Can you expand on your horizon now that this film has wrapped?

Yeah, there’s several things in the works. Even before Hot Fuzz I wrote an adaptation of this comic Scott Pilgrim with Michael Bacall who’s in Grindhouse. He’s a great kind of writer but also an actor. Me and Mike White had been working on Them and also working on an adaptation of Ant Man so there’s 3 things in the works. On top of that me and Simon have an idea for #3 in what we’re calling the 3 flavors corneta trilogy. We know the 3 films with feature blood and ice cream so that’s the only kind of linking variables. So it’s just a matter of what is next and stuff. It’s weird because it feels like we haven’t even stopped working on Hot Fuzz because like Hot Fuzz was finished about 2 weeks before it came out in the UK and then while we’re still doing the press I shot my trailer for Grindhouse like a month ago which is insane. It’s so weird. With something like that it’s like handing in homework. I had total carte blanche doing the trailer for Grindhouse. They read the script and they liked it. Here’s a little bit of money go do it. Then I hand it in and he goes “great it’s in the film.” Ok, cool. It’s so weird.

Is your trailer the Don’t trailer?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So you’re thinking about making that into a feature?

I don’t know. If anyone wanted me to, I’d happily do it. The thing about my trailers unlike maybe the other ones is that the whole point of it is that there’s no plot. Sometimes you see some of those trailers for European films and you’re thinking I have no idea what the fuck that is about. My idea to make it look like it was a 90 minute film condensed is to have a different actor in every single shot so it seems like its a new cast every…nobody ever reoccurs. So in like 90 seconds there’s like 30 actors in it which is crazy.

Do you have a plot if you expand it?

Don’t? I like the fact that it’s turned into the don’t conference. I’d rather talk about that than Hot Fuzz. If it was into a feature it’d have to be like I’ve always really admired Dario Argento and Superior is one of my favorite films. Superior is I think one of the few films that feels like a dream you’ve had when you’ve had too much cheese. It’s just like the weirdest bad dream you’ve ever had. I love those films that have the nightmare logic and don’t really have any plots or story. It’s just like horrible bad dream after bad dream.

What are your thoughts on cake flushing?

This is a thing that’s going to come up. Nick Frost’s birthday was like a week ago, we’d been on this tour and this is our 11th city we’ve been to. It was Nick Frost’s birthday and he got in the space of like 24 hours 2 big birthday cakes. His theory was he didn’t want to add to his girth so the only thing to do to give it ceremony was to flush it down the toilet and film it. Nick is very impressed by America‘s toilet flushing. Very powerful flushing in the UK we don’t always have those. It was a great way to see kind of like a birthday cake go down in flames. Now, we have all of this on tape. We’d done 3 so far.


Yes. The thing is—we’ve been doing this… Focus wanted us to do like a tour documentary and the truth is, is that we have like 50 minutes off each day. So the documentary is us in our car on they way to a hotel, then being in a hotel the whole of the day and then being in the car on the way to the screening and then the Q&ampA and in the car on the way to the hotel. Actually in San Francisco 2 days ago, I had like a hour off in the middle of the day so me and Jay Cornish went around and tried to do as many cop locations as we could in a hour. Then we did and saw Steve McQueen’s apartment in Bullet, the Denny’s that he goes into, we saw the hill where they had the chase, we found the diner that Clint Eastwood says make my day in Sudden Impact which is now a McDonald’s. We found Michael Douglas’ apartment in Basic Instinct. San Francisco is like the perfect place because all the locations are right round corner from each other.

And that will be on the DVD?


Continued on the next page ———–&gt


Is there any temptation to do an American big budget movie?

You know I’d like to a film over here as long as I can make my stamp on it. The worst thing is to lose your identity. As long you keep your identity and make films there’s no reason not to do a film here. It would be a challenge. It would be fun.

With the success of Hot Fuzz and Shaun your budgets have gone up but the money has been going up as well. If you stayed in the UK, I’m sure they’d give you obviously more money for the 3rd for the blood and….

Yeah. We have an idea for a 3rd film that would be in the UK. The thing I’m proudest of with Hot Fuzz and Shaun is that we made 2 films set in contemporary kind of Britain that’s something you don’t always see because a lot of the films that you see have a slight fairy tale quality to it. Richard Curtis and Guy Ritchie films are equally bullshit in terms of their depiction of what London is like. Not that their films are necessarily bullshit but sort of like the London you see in Snatched doesn’t really exist as does the London in Notting Hill doesn’t really exist either. To make the film in Notting Hill and not have a single black person in it was really quite something else.

How did you guys get Cate Blanchett to do that one little cameo?

I’d met her in LA and knew that she was a fan of Shaun of the Dead, so that was kind of a start. The first thing we wrote in Hot Fuzz is the kind of the girlfriend scene wit the CSI sort of ….and the first joke was basically that you have an emotive scene with him saying farewell to his girlfriend and being very sentimental and you can’t see her face and so also the idea of classically taking your glasses off but you still can’t see her face. Then we started to think of who could be that person. I thought why don’t we get a really heavyweight actress and then in a weird way it’s funny there is something a bit subversive about it, it’s funny you saying about like getting bigger budgets in the UK and stuff, you would still not believe the amount pressure you’re under to put really big stars in it. It’s funny, there’s a review in the UK that kind of criticized us for having too many famous people in it. And I was thinking like man, if you knew what they wanted us to put in there because I swear to God you do get people saying… this is not the name they suggested but if you put Ashton Kutcher in your film you could get an extra $5 million. Nobody ever suggested putting Ashton Kutcher in there but like having American comedy stars doing a cameo in the film and thereby like that’s more marquee value and we wanted to keep it really British. In a weird way this whole Cate Blanchett thing was sort of a slight kind of joke on that. Let’s get an Oscar winner in there but not see her face. And she was totally up for that joke. She loved it. And for the record and this is why Cate Blanchett goes to heaven, she gave her fee to charity. So she is one nice lady.

You had a second person in there that might be…

Oh, yeah, Peter Jackson is in there as well. The irony of Peter Jackson is that we got him to play Santa Claus and the irony is that we had to give him a fake beard and pad him up. The 2 things that 3 years ago would be the prerequisite for the role like he’d both lost. He was in the UK and he was a big supporter for Shaun of the Dead since it came out. I’d become friends with him which was great and I actually went over on a little holiday when they were shooting Kong which was great and hung around on the set like a work experience kid and so I was telling him about Hot Fuzz and he said I’ll be in the UK and I’ll do a cameo if you want. Then I thought, fuck he should play Santa. It was brilliant actually. It was really cool because it was so sweet. He was in London for a week and we actually shooting outside and he came all the way down. His cameo is like 5 seconds long. He was really cool. The night before we were shooting the scene in the castle which was really tough. We were shooting night scenes in June and we had like 6 hours of night. We had a scene with 15 actors and there all sorts of technical problems in it. The night before had been pretty disastrous and then the next night Peter said he was going to come down and I said what do you want to do in the evening because we’re going to be shooting and he said oh, I’ll come and watch. I said oh fuck. Peter Jackson is going to come and watch and last night was a…. It was funny because before we started shooting I had a cup of tea with him and I told him exactly what had happened the night before and it was great because it was like this scene around a table and maybe what you call it a dinner table scene is always a complete bitch because of the numbers of eye lines that you have to get and coverage if you have people around a table. It’s just tougher than shooting a shoot out. So I was telling him about this and he says the scene in Riverdale in Lord of the Rings in Fellowship of the Rings was my least favorite scene to shoot just for the same reason. I could not wait to get out of that scene. It was really sweet. It was like having him there and having him on my shoulder for the rest of the night. Actually it was really, really cool. It was like a good omen. It’s nice.

Is Spaced ever going to come out here in the U.S.?

I hope so. You know what, I actually wrote an email this very morning because we’d been asked this on the hour. I wrote an email to our producer saying what the fuck is happening with the Region 1 DVD release of Spaced? The official line is there’s about maybe 10 tracks within the 2 seasons that we can’t clear for North America. We really don’t want to go back and redub it with another track. Actually, in the case of the 1st series the sound tapes which have the M&ampE track where they have the split off have been lost so if we had to change any of the tracks we’d have to redub the scenes and that ain’t’ going to happen. So basically if we can clear the tracks then it will be released. And several US distributors want to release it and we’ve had many people over the years say …so hopefully it will be sorted out. I really hope so.

Is that like The Hobbit to your blood and ice cream trilogy?

The Hobbit, I suppose so. Have you ever seen it?

No. I haven’t.

Well, you know like I would heartily recommend and not just for Spaced but for all Asian cinema, I would heartily recommend buying a region free DVD player. They’re only about $50 and then you can go to Amoeba, go to the import section and buy anything you want.

In your grizzlier set ups, where there any ideas where you said oh no that’s too over the top, we’ve got to toss that idea?

No. It was fun doing the murder scenes. The idea for those was to really on one hand do an amped up Agatha Christie because the Hercule Poirot films have a high body count let’s not forget. I suppose the idea of the with the violence in the film was to kind of recapture the kind of the spirit of the hard R’s that cop films in the 80’s used to have, even Beverly Hills Cop was more violent than you would remember and I think so because of an age where most of those films I saw on VHS usually I was watching them when I was too young to see them rather at a brother’s friend’s house and sort of try to recapture he illicit thrill of watching Die Hard or Lethal Weapon or Robocop or The Last Boy Scout you know films that got increasingly kind of spectacularly violent in terms of people’s demises and stuff. That was definitely the vibe we were going for of R meaning R and I like having an otherwise pleasant comedy having a kind of brief outbursts of swearing and ultra-violence, scattered showers.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Reaping yet but it has a similar ending in terms of the townspeople and stuff like that.

Oh really… No. You know what I love about The Reaping? I love the fact that the poster answers the question. What hath God wrought? The Reaping. What has God brought to plague us? The Reaping. Isn’t that brilliant? I haven’t seen it yet.

I’m curious. With the success of Shaun and with the critics and with Hot Fuzz, are you being offered more studio stuff and are you amazed at what you’re being offered or are you turning down stuff?

Well I got offered stuff after Shaun and it’s funny I was at a party in London and somebody chastised me for kind of developing a Hollywood feature and they said you should stay in the UK and stuff and I said listen I turned down lots of things to do Hot Fuzz. I got offered some big kind of U.S. films and I wanted to do Hot Fuzz. I wanted to make a British film and we want to make a 3rd film. So yeah, it’s very flattering and stuff but when you’re offered things there’s a big, big difference between a film that you read a script and say hey, that’s funny, I’d go and watch it. I’m saying I’m going to spend 2 years of my life making this. The things that come through in the latter kind of option are very, very rare. There are plenty of things you read and you’re thinking hey, that’s really funny. I love a film like Anchorman. Anchorman is one of my favorite comedies in the last 10 years, but if I’d been offered to direct it, I wouldn’t have done it because I think this film can exist without me. Do you know what I mean? There’s no reason for me to make that film because somebody else can do it. When you get sent a script and you think sort of I can do this better than anybody else and I’ve got like this angle on this and this I really like and it hits home then that’s the film you do.

So I guess the question is–is the next film going to be the 3rd the trilogy or….

Don’t know.

So it’s really up in the air?

Yeah, absolutely. Literally for the first time in ages I have sort of a clean calendar after the end of the month which is great.

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