Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back at it again in the action comedy Hot Fuzz, directed by Edgar Wright. Pegg stars as a police officer booted out of London by his superiors for being too good at his job and showing up the rest of the force. Frost plays Pegg's new partner in the seemingly peaceful town of Sandford.
Where did the title Hot Fuzz come from?
Simon Pegg: “We just wanted to make a title that really had very little meaning. And also to appeal to the sort of two word titles of the '80s and '90s action flicks, like Lethal Weapon and Point Break and Executive Decision.”
Nick Frost: “Exit Wounds.”
Simon Pegg: “Yeah, all those titles seem to be generated from two hats filled with adjectives and nouns and you just, ‘Okay, that'll do.’ And also with Shaun of the Dead, because it was a pun on a specific English sentence, phrase rather, it got changed a lot so we figured let's start off with something that means nothing and then they won't change it. But I think they are still going to change it. Like in Spain, Shaun of the Dead was called Zombies' Party.”
Nick Frost: “It's very euro, isn't it?”
Are these big, loud American action movies as popular in England as they are here? Are they big enough there to have an audience as into the jokes as Americans might be?
Simon Pegg: “Oh yeah because it's not just a number of movies, it's a whole genre that has fed into British culture since the '50s in all its incarnations, through the sort of hard bitten French Connection/Serpicos of the '70s through to the more high concept Lethal Weapons and Die Hards and Last Boy Scouts and right into Bad Boys II. It's evolved into the British consciousness. And also, we're very hungry for American culture in the UK. I think there's something - we have a slight - we don't quite like seeing ourselves on the screen. We get a bit bored of it, so exotic locations and people who have guns is so exciting to us.”
Nick Frost: “And cops that drive Ferraris.”
The two movies you spoof most are Point Break and Bad Boys II. Were there other movies you were interested in doing but just couldn't get the rights to?
Nick Frost: “We don't use the S word by the way.”
Simon Pegg: “Yeah, we don't say ‘spoof’. It's a dirty word.”
Simon Pegg: “We're thinking spastiches. I don't know. Because ultimately, the film is what it's sort of taking on. With Shaun of the Dead we wanted to make a zombie film. We didn't want to make fun of zombie films. At no point in the film do we ever make fun of zombie films. There are slightly more parodic elements in Hot Fuzz where we are drawing attention to some of those grander clichés that are always employed, like the never-ending magazine full of bullets and the capacity to fire at each other and not hit anything.”
Nick Frost: “Clichés like someone saying, ‘I'll give you information in five minutes,’ and you know that they'll be dead in…”
Simon Pegg: “They have five minutes to live. But basically it's like inhabiting that genre comedically, rather than making fun of it. There's no derision in Hot Fuzz. We don't feel superior to the source material at all. In a way, the film is saying it's okay to be dumb as long as you temper it with some intelligence occasionally. It's all right to watch a firework display. You don't have to watch Ibsen 24 hours a day. But I think we were going to mention Lethal Weapon, but I don't think Mel Gibson's got a sense of humor.”
Do you love violence?
Simon Pegg: “We're splatter fans. We enjoy that element. I think there was definitely also a slight kind of feeling that we wanted to have a look at this sort of high concept violence as a way of also placating, not placating but pleasing, the people that came from Shaun of the Dead. So there was an element of that. That probably encouraged us to kind of seek out the slightly more violent cop movies and see that there were some pretty violent ones out there. I mean Robocop, I know he's the future of law enforcement rather than the traditional kind.”
Why are your characters infatuated with Bad Boys II and not the first one?
Nick Frost: “Is there a one?”
Simon Pegg: “It's kind of eclipsed because it is an odd thing. Bad Boys II wasn't necessarily… I think they kind of knew that it wasn't an entirely requested sequel, really. It was sort of like everyone went, ‘Oh yeah, there was Bad Boys.’ But I think in order to kind of counter that, they just made the most sort of impudent, excessive movie possible. And as a result, now it exists solely without the need of its predecessor. It's like Bad Boys II. Forget Bad Boys I. It kind of makes it obsolete.”
Are you fans of Jerry Bruckheimer and have you heard from him about this movie?
Simon Pegg: “No, I think Shane Black's seen it and he really likes it, but we haven't heard from Bruckheimer or Bay - the big Bs. Fan is a strange word to use in context with those guys. I think I'm an admirer of just the bombast of those films. Having attempted to make an action movie, you realize just how hard it is to pull off. Obviously we were fighting against the fact that we only had an eighth of the budget of Bad Boys II, but you literally can make 8 ½ Hot Fuzzes for one Bad Boys II. That's a hell of a trade off. And actually eight Hot Fuzzes are almost as long as Bad Boys II as well. But just the kind of wherewithal and sort of gumption it takes to pull off an action film is quite impressive. So dismissing those movies isn't so easy now.”
How about Hot Fuzz II?
Simon Pegg: “I don't know, I think it would be silly to do. I think you could have- - it's an easier sequel to do than Shaun of the Dead because it's just Danny and Angel getting into another adventure. But it's like Hot Fuzz is like an origin story. It's how they become Hot Fuzz and I think once you have them just being Hot Fuzz, it'll be less fun. It would just be two hours of the last half hour of Hot Fuzz. Tiring.”