Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Interview
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost Interview

Starring In

Paul (tbc)

Release Date

14th April 2011

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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are renowned on the British comedy scene for their Channel 4 sitcom Spaced and their smash hit film spoofs Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, both of which were done in collaboration with Edgar Wright. Now they’ve gone stateside and teamed up with Greg Mottola and Seth Rogen (star of Knocked Up, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Superbad – also with Greg Mottola) to create the alien road-trip comedy, Paul. Recently in London, squeezed into the back of an RV parked round the back of Claridges Hotel, they spoke to View’s Matthew Turner about mixing CGI and live action filming, being in love with Sigourney Weaver and their favourite Pauls.

So, Paul. Is he named after any Pauls in particular?

Simon Pegg: No. The idea was – we were just spit-balling, it was literally like, 'What are we going to do today? The weather's nice,' and we were like, 'Okay, yeah, he's an alien and what if his name's Paul?' and it was the most human name we could think of. There was no real rhyme or reason for it – we just wanted him to sound very naturalised. The idea was that he'd been on earth for a long time and was more human than the human protagonists.

Nick Frost: It was the first thing we came up with. We never changed it. We never thought about changing it.

Simon Pegg: But we were big fans of Paul Danan at the time, off Hollyoaks.

Nick Frost: And Paul Rudd.
It depends how drunk I am and what mood I'm in...
Who are your favourite Pauls?.

Simon Pegg: My favourite Paul is Paul McCartney. As a Beatles fan, you know.

How did working with Greg Mottola differ from working with your usual collaborator, Edgar Wright?

Nick Frost: It was just different, you know? It was like having two different wives. They're both nice but they -

Simon Pegg: They've both got little tricks that keep you happy.

Nick Frost: Yeah, exactly. More hair, on Edgar's side. I think Greg's a more generous lover than Edgar, but Edgar's a lot rougher, so ... it depends how drunk I am and what mood I'm in.

Simon Pegg: Greg's got a different dynamic on set. When Edgar goes on set he becomes a bit insular and intense. He's also still fun, but Greg - I'd say probably more laid-back than Edgar in terms of his approach. We picked Greg because we wanted to make what was ostensibly – what felt like an American indie movie with a very sophisticated special effect in it. We wanted Greg to bring what he brought to, particularly The Day Trippers, actually, but also Superbad as a comedy director - directing comedy but giving it some kind of directorial heft behind the camera. A lot of directors, when they direct comedy just point the cameras at the funny people and that's not enough. You know, you watch a film like Raising Arizona and you see how the camera can be funny and how there can be comedic intent behind the camera and Greg has that, so we chose Greg.

It was great to see that you cast Kristen Wiig as the female lead. Can you tell us how you came to cast her?

Nick Frost: Wiggles.

Simon Pegg: The Wiggle. Yeah.

Nick Frost: She's probably the funniest person we've ever worked with. She has that kind of charm where she's not really sure if she's that funny, do you know what I mean? You kind of want just to hold her and make you laugh endlessly, which is what she does.

Simon Pegg: She reminded me of Julia Davis – of our own Julia Davis – because she's supremely funny but not entirely aware of it as well, which is almost, in a way, as important, because it means that she never relaxes, she's always striving to achieve the funny. And on set she was just – I mean we were just in love with her. She's amazing. And I'm so glad that she played Ruth because it helped us develop that character. It's hard for guys to write women because they're not women, so she was an extraordinary asset. And I think at the very beginning of what will be mega-stardom. If Hollywood could make sense of her, she would rule it. She'd be the next Tina Fey or whatever.

Nick Frost: Whenever she was doing her stuff and we weren't in it, there would always be a lot of people around the monitor, watching what she does. Because sometimes it's so small and subtle that you don't really appreciate it till you see it on the big screen as well, so watching Paul – we've watched it a couple of times now on a massive screen and it kind of upscales her looks [in the sense of glances, not appearance] and her acting – it's amazing. It's amazing to watch.
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