The Origins of 'World's End' & A Look at 'Ant-Man'
By David Weiner
Director Edgar Wright's alien-invasion/drinking comedy The World's End is out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital today, and the charming Brit director gamely engages in a Q&A with ETonline about his sci-fi inspirations and the origins of the film that he wrote with pal Simon Pegg; how he now finds a full pint "daunting"; and he even reveals a little insight into why the world will champion his highly anticipated upcoming Marvel movie Ant-Man, from T-shirts to Halloween costumes.
The World's End follows a group of friends (Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) who embark on an epic 12-pub crawl in their hometown in an effort to complete "The Golden Mile," having fallen short two decades earlier when they were teens in their prime. Back to finish what they started, the reunited pals find out the hard way that an alien robo-invasion is taking place. The hilarious movie completes what has become known as The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, which started out with 2004's Shaun of the Dead and 2007's Hot Fuzz.
ETonline: This movie is centered on an epic pub crawl. What is your favorite pint and favorite pub?
Edgar Wright: I think there might be evidence in the movie [laughs]. I used to drink a lot of lager when I was younger, but I'm more of a wine drinker now, I guess. I feel daunted looking at full pints these days. There's lots of historic pubs right near our office in London.
ETonline: Growing up in your hometown, what was the pub that you finally got to go to when you were legal to drink?
Wright: Well there was a bunch, but there was one called The Rose and Crown which – I don't want to get them in trouble for crimes in the early '90s -- but there was usually like one pub that was the soft touch in terms of you could get served under 18, and that pub was The Rose and Crown -- don't do it, kids, don't drink underage [laughs] -- but that was one of the pubs I went to when I first started drinking. The owners aren't there anymore, so they won't get in trouble, don't worry!
ETonline: Like in The World's End, is that pub the same, or has it gentrified?
Wright: That's a good question. I haven't seen it for a little bit. I went back there because we shot Hot Fuzz in my hometown, but I haven't seen it in the last couple years, but quite possibly – that's definitely something that happens a lot. Near my apartment in London, a lot of the pubs kind of look identical, which is very strange.
ETonline: You wrote a script about an epic night of drinking when you were 21 and that was sort of the origin of The World's End. Did any of that end up in the movie – actual dialogue or situations?
Wright: A couple of things – most of the things that carried over were things that happened to me in real life. The script I wrote when I was 21 got very silly, and I think the only real elements that [made it into The World's End] are the first five minutes when they're actually teenagers. The things from real life that actually carried over included one of the friends dating his best friend's sister -- little life stuff carried over for sure.
ETonline: I love the music in this film, and I can almost imagine a tangible tape that you dug up from your closet and said, "Here's the soundtrack right here." Is that pretty much the case? And I know music rights are pretty tough to secure sometimes. Did you get everything that you wanted?
Wright: I think we were pretty lucky, actually, that we kind of got everything that we wanted. The ones that were really structurally important, like Loaded by Primal Scream and I'm Free by the Soup Dragons, anything that was written into the script are the first ones we cleared; it was like, this is going to be referred to on set, so you clear all those before production. We actually made this playlist when we were writing, and the soundtrack basically came out of that. We'd try to concentrate on all the music from 1988 to '93, the period when I was at school and Simon was at college.
ETonline: Did you have a similar upbringing to Simon's? When you're sitting down and writing this screenplay, do you really connect on many levels, or are things like, "Well, no, this is my experience," and he's like, "Well, this is mine -- how do we find common ground?"
Wright: No, we're quite similar. We're both from the west of England and we're both from sort of like lower middle-class families. We both went to comprehensive schools, which are kind of the equivalent of state schools, so we had similar economic backgrounds. We only actually grew up about 40 miles away from each other, but we didn't know each other until we were in our twenties.
ETonline: Did you have a favorite sci-fi movie growing up? Was Invasion of the Body Snatchers a huge influence, or is it just one of a pantheon of fun films that you thought would fit for The World's End?
Wright: I love that film, and I especially like the remake, the San Francisco one [from 1978] by Philip Kaufman is fantastic. It's one of my favorite films. I grew up with a lot of those films, and they were always on TV when I was a kid. I used to like sci-fi, so back in the day when they used to show those films in the afternoon on network TV like Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars, Village of Damned – all of those ones set in a small town really chimed with me, you know? And TV as well, like The Avengers and Dr. Who, they also had a big impact on me.
ETonline: Switching gears, you're directing Ant-Man for Marvel, which is going up against some very big superheroes in the summer of 2015 (namely Superman and Batman) on the heels of Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultron. What is it about Ant-Man? What will make people want to wear Ant-Man T-shirts and dress like him at Halloween?
Wright: I want to make him into a badass [laughs]. No, I always liked that comic and I always thought it would be an interesting thing to see in live-action. That's why I [showed] that Comic-Con test that we did for Marvel, to show this fight scene like a proof of content, like this is what the action is going to look like. I think a lot of people who maybe don't know the character sort of see that test and go, "Oh, right, I get it. It's like an action film," so that's the idea. I think people will be surprised by what kind of movie it is, and so in that respect it's something that I know is going to stand out because it's got a very different story and is a very different movie.
ETonline: What is the tone of the piece? Is it going to be humor and action, or would you say it's going to be more straightforward hero entertainment?
Wright: Well, I think the Marvel movies are funny, you know? I think generally the Iron Man films and The Avengers is funny. They're not ever in the comedy section, but they are funny and entertaining, so I think it'll be something in a similar vein to that.