- 09 Sep 10
Having scored substantial cult hits with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, Tarantino-endorsed English director Edgar Wright relocated Stateside to make his new movie, the eagerly awaited comic book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs The World.
“Weren’t we talking about Eli Roth, before?” asks Edgar Wright as I walk through the door of his suite in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel. Five years may have passed since Hot Press last caught up with the English director, but he’s not one to forget a conversation about zombies and ace genre filmmakers.
Back then Mr. Wright had just made the leap from TV to feature films with a little movie called Shaun Of The Dead. The film, which starred Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jessica Stevenson - his old muckers from the cult Channel 4 hit, Spaced – went on to garner decent reviews and did moderate box office in his native Britain. Then, without warning or precedent, it became a top ten smash in the USA.
“It was kind of mad,” says the Dorset-born director. “It did okay in the UK. We didn’t embarrass ourselves. It was only when the international feedback started coming in that it became this thing. It was incredible. It was something you’d dream about but never really expected to happen.”
Indeed, Shaun has gone on to spawn everything from action figures to affectionate clone movies, most notably the incoming Havana-based tribute, Juan Of The Dead.
“I’ve only seen the poster,” says Wright. “But I do hope to see it. It’s very pleasing to have created the easiest Halloween costume of all time.”
In the intervening years, Mr. Wright has given us Hot Fuzz - a winning marriage of cop drama and Wicker Man inspired horror-comedy - and now Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a $90 million adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s achingly hip graphic novel sequence. For the uninitiated, Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera in the film) is a bass guitarist in a struggling garage band who hooks up with high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) right before he meets Girl-of-his-Dreams Ramona V. Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to win the object of his affections, Scott – who views the world as an ongoing video game – must battle Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes, a motley crew including Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans, Superman Return’s Brandon Routh and the endlessly entertaining Jason Schwartzman. If that wasn’t enticing enough, the movie also features such up-and-coming talents as Anna Kendrick (Mr. Wright’s current real life Ms. Right), Alison Pill, and the fabulous Kieran Culkin. How on each did this production get so many hot names in the one place, I wonder?
“A lot of people were fans of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz or they were fans of the books,” says Wright. “So it did feel like I had plenty of people to call on. We were lucky too. The casting took place over a long period and some of the cast are much bigger stars now than they were when we first hired them.”
Long time Wright-watchers should be well pleased with the results; an epic comic book fantasy, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World takes the director right back to his Spaced roots. Is this down to retconning or did the comics simply present themselves in a Spaced-friendly way?
“It was in the material anyway, I think,” says Wright. “When I first read the comics back in 2004 I was struck by the similarities with Spaced. But Brian had never seen Spaced. It was sort of serendipitous. The fact he hadn’t seen the show made me aware we were on the same wavelength. There was something very appealing about returning to that mix of magic realism and the absurd and the mundane and perpetual adolescence.”
True, compared to say, Messrs Pegg and Frost, the youngsters that populate Scott Pilgrim seem a good deal, well, slicker.
“Well, yes and no,” says Wright. “I think there’s a theme running through Spaced, Shaun, Hot Fuzz and now, Scott Pilgrim, that the characters who think they’re cool will always end up meeting someone who is much cooler. Scott Pilgrim, at the start of the film, is a legend in his own head who is