I en liten brittisk håla utspelar sig komedin Hot Fuzz. Läs intervjun med regissören Edgar Wright nedan.
Regissören Edgar Wright med skådespelarna Simon Pegg och Nick Frost.
Hot Fuzz echoes a film you shot as a teenager called Dead Right, right?
– I started making that when I was in 6th form in Somerset in the same place where we shot Hot Fuzz. Some of the locations are the same, and there are scenes in Dead Right that are set in Somerfield supermarket in Wells Somerset. The film I did when I was 18 was more along the lines of Dirty Harry; I’d just seen Reservoir Dogs and Hard Boiled. I shot it in 1993 and there were these elements in there. There’s one person in that cast who comes back in Hot Fuzz, it was nice to give some old school friends a part in the new film. Bizarrely he was an American cop but in the UK. It was quite a large cast of about 70, all my school friends and my drama teacher. Only he and the lead cop had American accents, everybody else had British accents, for no apparent reason
You obviously always loved the genre, was action more of your staple than horror when you were growing up. Or do you love them both equally?
– Yeah. I like all kinds of genres, I like all kinds of films. I’d say that horror and action are two genres I particularly enjoy watching.
Is there another genre you think you could tackle?
– I suppose it has to be kind of organic. I’d hate it to become too predictable. Shaun of the Dead was a film about living in North London and in a weird way Hot Fuzz is kind of connected to where we grew up, Simon’s from Gloucester and I’m from Somerset. So it definitely felt really appropriate to do a film from where we came from. So it probably has more in line with growing up in an area like that and being a country kid, harboring these crazy day dreams of excitement, action and escapism… with carnage and violence erupting in your peaceful neighbourhood.
Do you ever worry that the Britishness might not translate overseas?
– We had a test screening in New York when we were editing the film and there was nothing that they didn’t get. I think the thing they say about comedy not travelling is not necessarily true anymore. Definitely, over the last couple of years with HBO showing British comedy shows in America people are really up to speed with British comedy. I think in a weird way the fact that it’s so British and colloquial, set in a picture postcard, chocolate box location is exactly what appeals to them. It plays to a stereotype that people understand and a stereotype that exists, do you know what I mean? When you watch something like Bridget Jones or The Holiday where you have a Cotswold town where it’s perpetually snowing, you think it’s a Britain that exists only one day a year, today in fact! [It’s snowing outside]. But it’s not like it’s always like that. What we’re trying to do with this is not only play with the convention of ‘here’s the sleepy town that you see in Calendar Girls or Saving Grace, but to try and be affectionate as well. I mean, even Simon’s character stays there in the end.
The British weather caused you trouble on the shoot, right?
– It was a fucking nightmare. When we were shooting the big action scene at the end I’d say we lost at least two days through solid rain. One of the nice things about doing the blogs on the internet was we thought that we’d be quite honest about the process. When you see blogs it’s like, “everyone’s having a great time, everything’s going great.” We thought let’s show the reality of it and some days are so frustrating, because it’s pouring down. In a weird way it’s sometimes more difficult when it’s sunny, because the weather is so changeable and in the West Country, near the Bristol Channel, you get very changeable weather. It’s worse when it’s sunny because you’ll probably get four seasons in one day. When it’s always grey it’s actually easier to shoot. Shooting stuff outside, prolonged sequences, is hard. We had a similar thing in Shaun of the Dead, because it was set in one day and shooting scenes outside was difficult when trying to get continuity. This was equally hard. You do stand there when it’s absolutely pouring down and wish you were Rodriguez shooting in Austin Texas or New Mexico in blazing sunshine.
Obviously Nick plays a character we’ve seen before in your collaborations, but Simon’s not the character he played in Spaced or Shaun. Were any of you concerned about Simon playing this very straight, uptight character?
– It wasn’t really a concern. Both Tim [from Spaced] and Shaun are both extensions of Simon; Tim from Spaced is probably the closest to Simon as a person. Shaun was a mixture of both of us. I think his performance here is great because he really holds centre stage for the entire film, he’s in every single scene. The joke with his character is that he’s entirely humourless, he doesn’t find anything funny, has no cultural references, he’s totally switched on and intense. He has no time for small talk or chilling. He has no relationships or friends. It was a nice character for Simon to play; he’s simmering over for the whole film. In the last half an hour he breaks and becomes the bad-ass that Danny [Nick Frost’s character] had always dreamed of meeting.
Like all good buddy movies, there’s a real platonic love affair there…
– In most buddy cop films they hate each other at the start and then they love each other, but in this one Danny is pretty much in love with Simon right from the start and if you watch the scene where they’re sitting in the pub and one of the other officers brings up Simon’s record in the Met, this record of being a fire arms officer involved in shooting incidents, you see Danny’s ears prick up in the sense of “oh wow”. From that point on he’s a puppy dog and in a platonic way falling in love with Simon. Eventually Simon warms to Danny. It was fun writing that sort of relationship. In the first form of the draft we had a girlfriend character for Simon; there was a romantic interest.
Who was this romantic interest?
– There was a girl who works in the hotel and they had a burgeoning romance. But after the first draft someone in Working Title suggested that we cut the girlfriend out and just concentrate on Danny and Nick. We thought that was a good idea and took that part out. But we gave nearly all of her dialogue to Nick Frost; all the stuff about the plant, the Japanese Peace Lily, that was all stuff that was intended for a female character. We just thought we’d give it all to Nick Frost and not change a word and he played it brilliantly. The idea of one cop buying another a plant for his birthday, when it’s brought up in the station they can’t conceive of anything seemingly so un-macho.
Do you remember the first action film that had an impact on you?
– I didn’t have a VCR when I was a teenager so I kind of had to rely on watching films round other people’s houses and on TV. If we’re talking cops and action I’m absolutely obsessed by the first Dirty Harry film. I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan anyway, the Westerns and as a child the orangutan films. They have an appeal, you can’t go far wrong with Clyde. The first Dirty Harry, the music, the fashion, the script, the way it’s shot just blows me away. You didn’t really get the term action film until the 80s with Die Hard, Lethal Weapon.
And Rambo: First Blood?
– I was never big on the Rambo films actually. I think because First Blood was banned for some time, I never saw it until much later. I think the Alien films were a huge influence. The things that started to inspire me as a teenager going into college were El Mariachi and Hard Boiled. If you go back to A Few Dollars More, The Good Bad and the Ugly, the Wild Bunch. Particularly the Wild Bunch, I watched that on a shit VHS copy and it still blew my head off. The best ending ever. Absolutely. It’s John Woo’s favourite and Rodriguez. Everybody quotes that one.
You mention Die Hard, is there a better line in an action movie than “yippey-kay-yay-motherfucker”?
– You can’t go wrong with Clint Eastwood’s five-six shots speech. That probably started off the whole catch phrase thing, in a way. That and Bond. With Dirty Harry in every film he’s got a catch phrase. In Dirty Harry it’s “Do you feel lucky”; in Magnum Force it’s “A man’s got to know his limitations”; In Sudden Impact it’s “Go on make my day”; and in the Dead Pool they run out of ideas, when they break into a Chinese restaurant and Dirty Harry’s sitting in the corner he says, “I’ve just read your fortune cookie, it says you’re shit out of luck”. Which is rubbish, brilliant rubbish. No I’d say five-six shots speech is the classic.
What are your top five action sequences?
– Can I only have five? 1. The climax of the Wild Bunch. 2. The bar scene at the start of Desperado. 3. The House of Blue Leaves scene in Kill Bill 1.
4. Hospital corridor shoot out in Hard Boiled. 5. Point Break foot chase, which we reference; it’s amazing.
You must be a bit jealous with the fact the guys got to play action heroes and you didn’t?
– I didn’t get to do fuck all, not even shoot a gun once. I could have done but I was so busy and worked so hard I didn’t even get 15 minutes to go into the armoury truck and fire off a machine gun. That should be a perk of the job.
[tags]hot fuzz, film, edgar wright[/tags]