Hot Fuzz’s Edgar Wright and Nick Frost at Comic-Con
By Maura Reilly Aug 7, 2007, 17:09 GMT
Top London cop, Police Constable Nicholas Angel, finds himself reassigned to the sleepy West Country village of Sandford. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings replacing the action of the city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and finds himself partnered with Danny Butterman, an oafish but well meaning young Constable. Just as all seems lost, a series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action. Convinced of foul play, ...more
“For the record we cannot answer any questions about ‘Heroes’.” Edgar Wright established that fact right at the beginning of the small press conference at the 2007 Comic Con International in San Diego with various on-line and print outlets in attendance.
This was he and star Nick Frost’s second trip together as last year they were at the con to talk about the then upcoming release of Hot Fuzz in theaters. They were there this time to talk about the DVD release of their film Hot Fuzz, which sold a million copies in 4 weeks in the UK and is now out in the US.
“How much better does a pint look when it’s shown in HD?”
Nick: I’d say about 30% better.
Edgar: You know I haven’t actually gotten an HD player yet so I haven’t seen either of our movies in HD. But now that you’ve said that I’m going to check it out. I wasn’t convinced with the whole HD/Blu Ray thing but now there’s the chance of checking out what a pint looks like in HD, we’ll check it out. Good I expect.
Edgar: I think you can do good drinking games with both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I supposed if you had a pint every time they had a pint or took a shot every time they used the “f” word?
Nick: You take a pint every time you see a policeman sounds like a good game.
One reporter asked about the significance of placing the climatic shoot-out in the local supermarket.
Edgar: I used to work in the very supermarket that’s in the film. I was a shelf stacker. That was my Saturday and sort of holiday job for like five years. So when they storm the outside of the supermarket in the car park that is where I actually used to work. So I think when I was a teenager I was day dreaming about kind of [tearing] the place up.
You say you want DVD extras? Well then Hot Fuzz is the DVD for you.
Edgar: [There’s] loads and loads of extras. Even whilst we were still editing the film we were doing DVD content. We produced the DVD extras ourselves. Some of them are on the [regular] DVD. The HD version has everything. I think Walmart has the two-disc addition as well. [Nick Frost does commentary on the HD version as well as the 2-disc Walmart edition, though saying the company name “hurts his mouth”.] So there are basically absolute reams and reams of extras. We really enjoy doing the “Plot Holes” which was a bit of the animated things that were on Shaun of the Dead. We try to do the things that the fans like from the last DVD. On the first DVD we had “Funky Pete” extra, (I don’t know if you remember that?) where we tried to do the TV safe version. And actually we did get in trouble with Universal because we never completed our TV version.
Contractually you have to do that. So this time around we did all of our swear word replacements and we had a lot of fun doing it. That’s on the DVD and it’s called “Hot Funk”. When it eventually turns up on American Airlines I want it to be at least entertaining in the clean version. I always thought the TV versions of 80’s action films like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard and RoboCop were amazing in terms of [words] they’ve given us like: “melon farmer”, “muddy funkster”, “forget you!” We wanted to come up with some good ones so we’ve got “funk”, “silt”, “mother hubbard”, “peas and rice”. Also to replace the “c” word we had to take from The Nutty Professor the word “clump”. That’s a good dialogue replacement as well.
“Can’t that be dirtier than the actual word?”
Nick: It can be.
Edgar: I that’s what’s funny about it. I think Patton Oswald does a funny routine about dialogue replacements that sound even ruder than the swear word.
Edgar, con’t: There is a trivia track on the Hot Fuzz DVD that explains the [action movie references]. There are obviously very explicit references in the film like Point Break and Bad Boys 2. For the most part the other kinds of references are pretty kind of sly because we tried to cover the entire genre so there are aspects of so many different cop films. So little details like streets named after characters or films, some of those are obvious and some of those are very obscure. Like one of the streets is called Spencer Hill which is a reference to Terence Hill and Bud Spencer of course from Two Super Cops, Super Fuzz and Miami Super Cop.
One of your favorites I’m sure. We put all that stuff on the trivia track. There are less references in the film than people think. It’s funny if you look on Wikipedia or IMDB you find that people have read a lot more into the film. You see on Wikipedia it says things like: “In the climax of Hot Fuzz Nicholas Angel opens the door much as Agent Smith did in Matrix: Revolutions.” And you’re thinking: “Hmm?” So don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia. I know you don’t need to know that already guys.
The question came up about whether or not their next film would be a tribute to a specific genre like Shaun was to Horror and Hot Fuzz to Action?
Edgar: We try to come up with the story first. It’s not like we have a list of genres. I suppose we like making the kinds of films they don’t make in the UK. There used to be a great tradition of genre films in the UK in the 60’s and 70’s and it just doesn’t really happen any more. What we do with the films back home is do something that isn’t coming out of UK and is very much a British spin on an existing genre. So it’s not like we say back and thought “God cop movies really have it coming after eight Police Academys!” It was just that we wanted to produce our own spin on it which was to do an English action film.
The filmmaker was asked if he every felt frustration over his film’s box office results in US?
Edgar: Certainly with the two films that we’ve done so far it doesn’t disappoint us because by the time the movie opened in the US we’d already made our budget back 4 times in the UK. That was similar with Shaun of the Dead as well. I think at the moment that we’re kind of happy that it’s nice that in the UK it was major hit (in made $40M in the UK alone) and that over here it’s more of a cult thing. That’s kind of cool and the DVD is going to help with that. Shaun of the Dead became more of a thing on DVD than it did at the box office. Hopefully it will be the same with this. I think there’s thing in this day and age with the way the box office is reported and the obsession with three-day totals. If it doesn’t open at number one it’s kind of nothing. It doesn’t really account for sleepers and cult films. Pretty much if you look at some of your favorite films from 20 years ago not many of them opened in the top three or top five. It doesn’t really matter to me. If most people like the film and it finds its audience then that’s [cool]. Obviously if it costs $50M and made $20M then that would be a disaster. But it didn’t. It cost $15M and made $85M. So we’re happy.
Nick had been referred to as an “underrated actor” (which was surprising to him) on occasion and one reporter wondered if he’d matured as an actor:
Nick: I think I think a little bit more about my job now, because I was never an actor. I don’t think I did any acting until after Shaun of the Dead really. I think everything up until that point I was just pretending to be an actor. But the after Shaun of the Dead I really put the effort in. I learned to enjoy it and I learned to enjoy the nerves and not think this was the worst job in the world.
“Isn’t pretending to be an actor acting?”
Edgar: Ahhh, he’s good isn’t he?
Nick: Essentially I think it is. But I was thinking more about my pretense.
Edgar: That was very Zen-like, I like that. It’s almost feels like that Starship Troupers thing: “If you’re pretending to be an actor maybe you are!”
So where was Simon?
Edgar: Simon Pegg actually said “I hate all geeks. I’m never going to comic con ever again.” And you can put that on record.
Nick: I think he fears what he loves most.
Edgar: He came here three years ago and saw a Batman made out of Legos and he’s never recovered.
Nick: I think he thought it could never get any better than that. So he never came back.
[Simon is actually working, though their versions are much funnier.]
For those of you collectors hankering for Shaun of the Dead action figures there is a two-pack coming out with Shaun and Ed together. And what about Hot Fuzz action figures? Edgar said: “I’d love to see an action of Paddy Considine with ketchup all over his face. That’s what we were going for.”
Trivia: Edgar (a big Doctor Who fan) was asked to direct the first episode of the new Doctor Who series and could not due scheduling problems. “And my mum has never been more disappointed in me. I don’t think she’ll ever let me forget that.”
The serious issue of pirating came up and Edgar shared his views:
Edgar: I don’t believe in pirating at all. There is definitely a generation of people growing up who don’t actually even think that it’s something that’s wrong or don’t even realize it’s wrong in terms of downloading films. I think that’s kind of sad in terms it will eventually have the same effect on films that it has already done with music: the amount of labels going down and especially independent artists finding it more and more difficult to make money. But when the public is told that they can’t see something they take matters into their own hands.
As long as you make the stuff available, anybody who would watch a shitty bootleg of Grindhouse when they can get a nice DVD version is not in any way a proper film fan. The only time I’ve ever bought a bootleg of something is when the film has been absolutely unavailable and maybe that’s some obscure film in Kim’s Video. There’s a film called The Super Cops which has never been released on VHS or DVD and I bought that and that’s the only time I’ve bought a bootleg. I’d never buy something off the street. That just seems ridiculous. I think that’s what’s great about doing DVDs and why the extras are so important. It’s worth your money to buy the actual proper thing.
And what are they working on next?
Edgar: We’re both having a furious writing period at the moment. Simon is writing with Nick and me and Simon are going to start writing something later on this year which should hopefully be the third in the trilogy of what we’re calling: The Blood and Ice Cream Triology: Three Flavors Cornetto. (Our little Krzystof Kislowski reference.) And I’m writing two adaptations: both of which I’ve been doing before Hot Fuzz. [Referring to Ant-Man and Them. Ant-Man based on comic by Jack Kirby.
Them, not remake of the giant ant film, but an adaptation of a John Ronson book, he is developing with Mike White. Thirdly he is working on Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Brian Lee O’Malley.] We only really finished doing the press tour for the actual film last month in France. We’ve essentially been doing press for six months so we’re just getting into writing now.
With that our press conference was done. The pair were free to return to their hotel to begin a long over due holiday. Edgar sadly remarked that there is no porn on the hotel cable and no mini bar.
“First two things we look for in a hotel room and we’ve been disappointed on both counts.” To which Nick added, “You can buy medical marijuana in Los Angeles but you can’t buy a drink after 2:00”. Guess they’ll have to settle for a soda and more Black Christmas.