The Making of The World's End
If you're going to advertise a film as the conclusion to a trilogy, you better go balls out. That's exactly what Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost did for The World's End. Not only did they have a bigger budget to play with, but they expanded their bro fest to some of the UK's finest actors—Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike.
The idea of a bar crawl first came to Wright when he was 21. Back then, though, it was more in the style of Superbad—i.e., teenagers getting fucked up for the hell of it. When it came time to write the final film, the trio decided to return to Wright's original idea and make it a part of a larger narrative. One that happens to include the apocalypse and blue-ink-blooded robots.
Edgar Wright: "The film I wrote was in the vein of American Graffiti. It wasn't until way later after Hot Fuzz that I was thinking about the old script and thought, 'Maybe there's something in the idea of adults trying to recreate their teenage years.'"
Simon Pegg: "[The script Edgar wrote] was pretty much the first three minutes of this film—a kind of glorious night of hedonism and abandon. When we were starting to think about our follow-up to Hot Fuzz, Edgar brought it up a couple times."
Nick Frost: "Edgar and I went down to the west country. We hired a cottage and a hired a nice Mercedes to write. [Laughs.] We went down there for a week to write, and we wrote not a sentence. We just drove around with the top down listening to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion."
Pegg: "We thought it would be interesting to look at going back to your hometown and that weird sense of detachment and that odd combination of familiarity and alienation that you get when you go home. We thought, Wouldn’t it be funny if we gave a very concrete reason to identify that feeling? And that came to be an alien invasion. That fit nicely with Edgar’s pub crawl idea, so we combined it."
"We had the idea in 2007 but we didn’t write it until 2011 because we went off and did Paul and Edgar did Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I don’t think we could’ve written it in 2007. I don’t think our life experience was completely full in terms of what we need to do to write this film."
Wright: "When we had the plot and the story [down], we named the pubs after something that happens in the movie, but they're all real pub names. The one with the fight, that's the Cross Hands. The one where he gets barred, he's The Famous Cock. The one with the sirens, that's The Mermaid. We liked the idea of the pub's signs and their names being tarot cards."
"In a way, the song titles are on-the-nose, too. Even 'Fool's Gold' by The Stone Roses is over the scene where [Gary's] looking at somebody else's beer. It literally says 'Fool's Gold' when he's looking at it. Like, 'You are a fool is you're going to drink somebody else's lager.'"
Pegg: "We had [Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Freeman in mind] to the point where Edgar and I were writing the screenplay with their names in the script rather than the characters. We just trusted that we’d get them."
"I went to see Bill Nighy before the film to talk about the voice in The Network and he said, 'Well, who else is in it?' When I told him, he said, 'Well, you’ve got a team of assassins there.' And that’s what we always wanted to get. Knowing that we were releasing the film [internationally], we wanted to bring the very best of our acting pool to the rest of the world, and those guys represent that."
Frost: "I’d also say, as an addendum to that, not just the acting, but the commitment and effort they put into the training period was amazing. All of us, especially [Rosamund Pike]. Ros got really mad if we didn’t let her do something. They just came in for four weeks and we just trained and hit things and kicked things and did awkward backward rolls." [Laughs.]
"I think you hear a lot about successful performers these days that don’t want to do much. But that’s the complete opposite of what we had on this. That says a lot about Simon and Edgar in terms of the draw and the fact that people are willing to do that for our films."