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Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong Talk 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World'

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong Scott Pilgrim vs the World interview

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers in 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World.'

© Universal Pictures
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Ramona Flowers, the woman Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera) wants to be with, and Ellen Wong is the high school girl Scott has to dump in order to date Ramona in the Universal Pictures action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Adapted from Bryan Lee O'Malley's popular graphic novels by Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall - and directed by Wright - Scott Pilgrim is a bizarre mix of genres that's actually pretty much undefinable. Together to talk about the film with a group of reporters, Winstead and feature film newcomer Wong explained what is so appealing about the characters O'Malley created and why you don't have to be into comic books, graphic novels or video games to get into Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

On Their Characters Falling for Scott Pilgrim:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "I think for Ramona it’s really a slow burn for her. I don't think she’s instantly smitten with Scott. I think she’s attracted to him and she doesn’t really know why necessarily. I think if I were to delve into her brain, it’s probably just that he represents something completely different from all the guys that she’s been with before. She’s trying to basically do what Scott’s been doing with Knives. Here’s a guy who’s just sort of simple and sweet and he’s not going to hurt me so I’ll give this a try and see where this goes. Then over the course of the film he kind of proves himself to be more than that and maybe a viable choice of someone to actually really be with."

Ellen Wong: "I think for Knives it’s that she falls in love with him because he’s different. He takes her to this sort of new world. He takes her on a journey and shows her so many new things like music, different people to hang out with, places to hang out. She wants to be on this journey and she’s at that point in her life where she’s ready for that change, and Scott’s the one that’s taking her down that road so she falls in love with that. I think she’s just infatuated by the fact that he’s just so cool. He is who he is and he doesn’t really care. He’s kind of nonchalant and like, 'Whatever.' He’s not obsessed with studying and all these other things that she’s so used to so she just wants to go on this journey with him."

On the Comic Book Versions of Ramona and Knives:

Ellen Wong: "It’s funny, I still don’t [see myself in the comics]. I still read the books and I see Knives as Knives. It’s interesting because I remember that day when we were all - because we had been training together for a while just before that - there was one day where we all were put into our costumes and we’re all in this lunchroom and one by one, the characters of Scott Pilgrim were coming out of the storyboards. You see Scott walking up the stairs, Ramona and Knives. It was really cool to see us all in the hair and the makeup and the wardrobe."

"I think that’s also saying great things about our team, the hair and makeup team and the costume of LJ Shannon was amazing bringing this all to life. I think a lot of it too has to do with that and we have to keep that in mind."

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "I think while I was doing it, especially after four or five months of being Ramona every day, I think I did kind of see myself when I would look at the books. Now I feel separated enough from it now that even when I look at the movie, I don’t even see myself. I see Ramona."

On Getting Into the Character Through the Hair and Make-Up:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "Oh, it’s such a huge help. I was still kind of worried about my portrayal of Ramona and how I was going to do it and just the daunting task of becoming her the whole time through preproduction and everything. The day that we all put the clothes on and got the wig on and the makeup and everything, I suddenly was like, 'Okay, I get what Edgar saw.' Everyone was telling me, 'You’re the perfect Ramona. You look just like Ramona.' I was like, 'What are you talking about? What do you mean?' Then when we all got together and we had the complete looks, it all sort of clicked."

Ellen Wong: "There was that moment we all just looked at each other."

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "It was surreal. That was a great thing to have before we started shooting because then we could all walk on the set and feel confident that we were right for the parts and that it was going to be okay."

Drawing Inspiration to Play Ramona and Knives:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "I don't think I drew inspiration from any other films or anything like that. [...]I think mainly from talking to Bryan [Lee O'Malley] and getting information about Ramona that isn’t in the books and that nobody really knows and that delves a little bit deeper into her past and what she’s been through kind of helped me to understand why she is the way she is and to hopefully bring a little bit of humanity underneath the sort of cold exterior that she has. That was the most important thing to me was trying to find that balance of how she relates to the world."

Ellen Wong: "I think with Knives it was really important to kind of go through all that stuff with Edgar [Wright] and Bryan but what was key, I think, and it came to me even at the very early stages when I even put myself on tape the very first time was that Knives is just so liberated and genuine and free and open and honest. That’s just who she is. Throughout the whole film, everything that she goes through, it’s her first time going through it so you really can’t put too, too many layers behind it because those feelings are real. They’re raw. They’re untainted. She hasn’t really experienced the harsh realities of this world yet so she doesn’t have that guard up. I think that’s really key to playing true to Knives."

On Familiarity with the Source Material:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "I think we both became familiar with it through auditioning or meeting on the film. I first got into it I guess about three years ago now when I first met Edgar about the film, and there were three books out at that time. I read them and got so excited about the prospect of being involved in the movie version of it. I’ve never been a big comic book reader, but I think that that kind of made me really want to delve into it a bit more. Admittedly, it’s kind of an intimidating world because there’s so much and you don’t really know where to start, but I think with Bryan’s work, and also his wife Hope has got some cool stuff, and I’ve kind of tried to get into that a little bit. So starting in the indie comic world and maybe branching out from there, but I’m still taking baby steps."

Ellen Wong: "I honestly, Scott Pilgrim was the very first comic series that I read in its entirety and I’m glad because in a way, I think this kind of a comic book, it’s almost in its way its own genre. It has a little bit of everything. It’s kind of a bit manga-inspired but it’s got this cool, down to earth, grounded story that you can relate to. It’s in this fantastical world so it’s, I think, the best kind of comics to start off with because you can really put yourself in the shoes of those characters and you get it and you get why they’re going through that."

On Co-Writer/Director Edgar Wright:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: "I was a huge fan. I don't know how many times I’ve seen Shaun of the Dead. I’ve watched every DVD commentary and Hot Fuzz, all the special features. And Spaced... So I was a huge, huge fan of his so meeting him, first I had a general meeting with him and I didn’t know what it was about. It was just sort of set up through my agent. That was kind of enough for me. I was just like, 'Oh my God, my agent somehow got me a meeting with Edgar Wright. How did he do that? That’s so cool.' Then I was talking about being interested in me for a movie and I was just like, 'What? What?' It was kind of mind-blowing to me. I think he’s just brilliant and I think he’s still going to get even better. I don't know how that’s even possible. I don't know how that’s even possible but he’ll do it."

Ellen Wong: "He’ll pull something out of the air like how he did with Scott Pilgrim. I feel like he just made something that you can’t put into words, because how do you explain to someone what they’re going to see unless they’ve actually experienced it? I feel like it’s an experience that you can’t really put into words. It’s a mashup of so many things and it doesn’t exist yet and really won’t exist in your mind until you see it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls another Scott Pilgrim."

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Scott Pilgrim vs the World hits theaters on August 13, 2010.

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