THE WORLD'S END
About the Production
Just how far would a man go for a pint -- to the end of the world, perhaps?
That burning question is explored by director/screenwriter Edgar Wright, actor/screenwriter Simon Pegg, and actor Nick Frost, following up their international success with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Wright assesses the resulting tale, The World's End, as being "within the British tradition of being either irreverent or having a dry reserve in the face of something calamitous. It follows a boys' night out gone very badly wrong.
"Thematically, it's linked to our two earlier movies. These are all different stories with different characters, but obsessions of Simon's and mine are in all three scripts."
Pegg notes, "It's a bigger proposition for us than the earlier pictures."
"The World's End is definitely ambitious," Wright agrees. "That is evident on a physical production level. But also, in this story, we address the element of just how healthy it is to be nostalgic -- to look back, let alone to try to go back. Everyone has fantasized about having done things differently; we all think back on our adolescences. Each film I've done with Simon and Nick has had a biographical element."
Pegg reflects, "It's the most personal of our three films together. We learned on Shaun of the Dead that it was possible to combine serious situations with comedy and heart. Thematically, The World's End is linked to the two other movies through an individual facing off against a collective, one person versus a homogenized force."
Wright says, "All three films take people's perceived stereotypes of the U.K. and turn them on their head. We revel in them and satirize them at the same time."
Pegg reveals that the pub crawl element "partly came from a script that Edgar had toyed with at a young age -- its title was Crawl."
Wright admits, "When I was a teenager, I went on a pub crawl of fifteen drinking establishments in my hometown. I didn't make it past pub six or seven. I'm not entirely proud of this. A couple of years later, I wrote a script about teenagers on a pub crawl. That sense of it being a quest, an adventure stuck in my head."
The concept continued to germinate. Frost remembers, "About 10 years ago, Edgar and I had discussed a pub crawl film. We went and hired a car and a cottage with the intention of doing a bit of writing.
"We just kind of drove around listening to music and could not do any writing at all, which I now regret."
After Hot Fuzz, the idea came to Wright anew. He says, "I was thinking about Superbad when that film was about to be released, and recalled my teenage drinking script and the fact that I'd done nothing with it. Then a thought struck me: what if the teenage drinking quest was just the beginning...
"I remember Simon and I were standing by a baggage carousel in Sydney, during the promo tour for Hot Fuzz. I said to him, 'There's this idea I had for a film. What if, for the first five minutes, you showed these five guys in 1990 and then flashed forward with them trying their quest again as adults, and some otherworldly event happens?' We started talking it through, and started to figure out what the cosmic intervention might be."
Pegg says, "That notion of going home to where you were from and it being very different was something that we had in mind because we were on that world tour promoting Hot Fuzz. What we liked was the idea of, you go home and everything seems to have shifted and it wasn't because you had changed -- there was in fact something happening."
Wright adds, "The concept was also that while the movie would take a deliberate left turn with the plot and even the genre, the original story keeps pushing forward. The characters' goal, their quest, is the same at the start of the film as it is at the end of the film. It's the obstacle that changes."
The team's own itineraries changed as other projects took shape for them; after Hot Fuzz opened in 2007, Frost and Pegg came up with the idea for an original screenplay titled Paul, which they wrote and starred in. Around that same time Wright was co-writing the screenplay adaptation for, and then directing, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Nira Park, who produced all of the aforementioned films, remarks that "it took quite a while to get Simon and Edgar back in a room. You wonder, 'Are we ever going to get the band back together again?'"
Once the divergent projects were completed, everyone did gravitate back to each other. "We were very keen to keep the team together," states Pegg. "That meant the same producers as well; Nira and Big Talk Pictures are like family -- we go back a long way -- and we are so thankful for the supportive relationship with Tim Bevan and Eric at Working Title which began with Shaun of the Dead."
Wright says, "They were our knights in shining armour on that movie, and kick-started our film careers. Here we all are 10 years on and moving forward together."
Fellner reflects, "I remember that first meeting with Edgar and Nira over a decade ago. When you get to meet with a lot of creative talents, you can tell when you're in the presence of exciting ones.
"With a larger canvas, it took a while for The World's End to come to fruition. But I knew the idea would spring from Simon and Edgar's heads; they're a clever team."
Park reveals, "When we all started out, it was basically seeing each other every night and then meeting up the next day. We didn't have families then. To get The World's End off the ground at the scripting phase, I did a timetable for Edgar and Simon to show exactly how and where we could get them in the same room for a couple of weeks.
"Because what they do is, they plot out every single thing on a flip chart. You can walk in and they will talk you through every single scene."
Pegg confirms, "Edgar and I do in fact always write together in the same room." In mid-2011, they got to work in earnest on The World's End script on-site at Working Title's U.S. offices. "By then, we had been thinking about it for a long time," says Wright. "It all came pouring out."
"It was quite a swift writing process," agrees Pegg. "By now, we have a rhythm. We understand each other's way of working. We were on the same page perhaps more than ever, and brought a lot to writing The World's End from our own life experiences.
"In terms of a genre, we're taking on the tropes and ideas of British social science fiction. We're not parodying them; we're looking at the concepts in a comedic way. The author John Wyndham was a big influence on us."
Wright adds, "As were the Quatermass films, as well as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the works of John Christopher. I think the reason we zeroed in on social science fiction from the '50s, '60s, and '70s is because of the thematic fun we could have with questions of identity. There are rich themes in the gulf between your older self and younger self, as well as in the strange alienation you feel when returning to your hometown and finding that nothing has changed and yet everything is different."
Fellner notes, "Simon and Edgar know that genre, but for me what's important is that this story stood on its own."
Wright concludes, "So what we have in The World's End is a sci-fi paranoia film combined with a reunion for a pub crawl, which here is like a medieval quest with an extremely irresponsible King Arthur at the head of it!"
While writing the script with Wright, Pegg as actor was drawing a bead on the lead character of Gary King. He remarks, "Edgar and I joked about how in reunion films like The Big Chill there's a corpse because someone has died. In The World's End, Gary basically is the corpse! When he first sees his old friends individually to talk them into doing 'The Golden Mile,' it's like they're seeing a ghost from their past."
Wright muses, "We wanted Gary to appear that way at the start. I believe a lot of people have had the experience of cutting off, for whatever reasons, a friend who they were very close to at school. Maybe this friend had problems and you're not willing to deal with them.
"We all have a character like Gary King in our life and in some ways, there are elements of him in myself and Simon, more than we'd care to admit."
Pegg notes, "The two of us figured that the reason he's dressed a certain way is not necessarily because he's been doing so since 1990 but more that it's for this particular night, like a military officer suiting up with medals and white gloves. "
Wright confides, "If you've read Simon's autobiography, then you know he went through a 'Goth phase.' The pictures show his hair with a specific style, and that was something we wanted for him as Gary -- it makes Simon look different than in our other movies. The temperament of this character is so different from his others [in the team's earlier movies]."
Pegg points out, "I never dyed my hair black, so having it done for this movie fulfilled a lifelong ambition. The costumes really are what I would have worn when I was 18."
Wright says, "Gary could feel a little tragic, but I think Simon actually pulls off the look. He surprisingly looks kind of cool to me."
Pegg muses, "Actually, I do feel that Gary is a walking tragedy. He's dyeing his hair black every two weeks. He's clinging to his heyday of this one night over 20 years ago, which was the pinnacle of his achievements. What made him fun to write, and play, is that he has so little regard for his personal safety -- and that he still gets everyone in his thrall, for far more of adventure than even he expects."
The process of convincing the others to get back on board with Gary for "The Golden Mile" was, says Pegg, "great fun to write, those persuasion scenes. As an actor, I find it quite satisfying to have whole days where it's dialogue. Gary kind of bullies Peter, flatters Oliver, challenges Steven, and emotionally blackmails Andy.
"I often step back to let Edgar write the action beats. For example, the fight at The Beehive is extraordinary; having worked with [supervising stunt coordinator] Brad Allan before, Edgar was able to envisage what inventive things Brad would come up with."
Eddie Marsan, who plays Peter, enthuses, "That Beehive set, from [production designer] Marcus Rowland and his crew, was fantastic. We would smash it up every day and then they would rebuild it so we could do another angle -- and smash it up again."
Extensive training right up to the moment of filming the fight sequences helped the actors stay in-character and also safely prepared. Marsan praises Allan's team for carefully monitoring the script to "incorporate character into the fights so you are not leaving your character behind. There is a logic to the way these characters fight rather than their having the stock abilities, which enhances the audience appreciation."
Rosamund Pike, who plays Sam, notes, "One scene that I love is where Gary is getting really physical yet his primary aim is not to spill his pint."
Wright elaborates, "You have to allow more time to shoot the action scenes and get the stunts right but then you also try to do the comedy and dialogue scenes faster, which is good for the performances. The guideline for the action was that these guys don't have super powers; that's not part of the story. We kept in mind Jackie Chan's Drunken Master movies where, as he continues to drink, his fighting prowess improves. There's a crazy Dutch courage that takes over when intoxicated, and we wanted our heroes to become more fearless and indeed foolhardy as the movie continued.
"Brad Allan has worked and trained with Jackie for years, so he brings furiousness and invention to the staging of the scenes. But, at heart, I wanted it to be that the audience was watching something that could erupt at your local pub -- a bar brawl."
Even so, remarks Martin Freeman, cast as Oliver, "The stunt team on The World's End came seemingly from another universe. Of course, they have, because it's an Edgar-and-Simon film...
"I volunteered to do some stunts, and was physically able to busk my way through a choreographed fight. But, being thrown across a table? Then it was a hand-over to the stunt double."
Wright notes that "throughout the movie, a lot of our actors are not doubled. You will see their faces very clearly in the scenes."
Frost notes, "Once I got over the fact that Brad's amazing team seemed to enjoy it more the harder you hit them, I liked doing the fight scenes. My favorite is the one at The Beehive where I use high stools as fists. Simon and I wanted the stunt men to be impressed by us."
"Those two were really impressive," marvels Pike. "Nick is amazingly fast on his feet, and Simon manages to do so much with his face."
The anticipated demands of the action scenes obliged Pegg to "start training at least seven months early, while I was still filming Star Trek Into Darkness. I wanted Gary to be one of those people who shouldn't be alive yet somehow look wiry and fit, like certain rock stars we all know; you think, 'What is this guy's metabolism made of?'"
Wright adds, "Gary is reckless, but he's the only one with a plan; the others don't have one, so they fall in line. Gary shows unexpected gumption when things get really weird, and just keeps going in the face of some big obstacles. He is relentless, and the others get swept along on his coattails."
When writing The World's End together, the duo was always conscious of engaging the viewer. Pegg comments, "Edgar and I love giving the audience clues about where the plot might be about to go, and possible connections to make and subtleties to pick up on. There's bits and bobs that we've put in, and we like setting up things that will pay off later on in the story. It makes the movie feel more interactive and enjoyable. We take the audience, and their intelligence, seriously."
Fellner assesses The World's End as having "very tight, very funny writing, and I'd say that it's more sophisticated than their earlier scripts.
"Audience members will be able to enjoy this film even if they don't know the earlier movies, or the genre inspirations. But those who get the nods and winks will enjoy themselves too, which I know is a major factor in why people are loyal to this team."
Longtime fans of the team's work will be inclined to classify the new movie as the third in what Pegg refers to as the "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" and Wright refers to as the "Three Flavours: Cornetto" trilogy. "Cineaste that he is, Edgar prefers to call it that," says Pegg. "Respect, to Krzysztof Kieslowski and his 'Three Colors' trilogy.
"Edgar put a Cornetto [a beloved U.K. brand of ice cream] in Shaun of the Dead, and we did it a little more prominently in Hot Fuzz to be self-referential."
Wright confides, "The appearance of the Cornetto ice cream in Shaun of the Dead is because it was a hangover cure for me college and because it seemed like a funny thing for Nick Frost's character to want on a Sunday morning.
"It's popped up again because we had gotten free Cornettos at the Shaun of the Dead premiere, so we thought if we wrote Cornetto into Hot Fuzz, then we would get them at that premiere as well. For some reason we did not, and I felt let down by the lack of free ice cream but by that point it was too late."
Pegg continues, "So we suddenly had this linking factor in the two films. We felt obliged that there be a Cornetto reference in The World's End. It is a throwaway, but we hope the fans appreciate it."
Nick Frost remarks, "Simon, Edgar, Nira, and myself certainly keep one eye out for the fans. They share our comedy sensibilities and our love of genre films and men fighting. After all, when you go into a pub like we do in all three of these movies, you're constantly reassessing the threat of violence.
"Also, where's the exit? What if there's a fire? What crisps are on offer?"
Such key questions notwithstanding, faithful viewers of the team's projects will particularly appreciate that the new movie affords Frost "the challenge of playing a more complex character," as Pegg quantifies the role of Andy. "We've written a different on-screen rapport between Nick and I in this one; Andy is not a devoted hanger-on and is in fact Gary's toughest critic, with a lot of anger. Andy has gone away from Newton Haven because it represents disappointment and the past."
Wright says, "Nick is kind of playing against type in this movie, which worked out great. He's particularly fierce as a straight man to Simon in The World's End. We liked switching it up between them from what was in our previous films."
Frost reveals, "I saw the first draft when everyone else saw it, and jumped in with a little input from that point. I added a little frosting -- or, Frost-ing -- and sprinkles to my character.
"Andy is married, a family man, and a successful partner in a corporate law firm. He's not happy that Gary imagines picking up where he and Andy left off. Yet it's that being let down by Gary years ago has informed Andy's adult life, and now he's going to have to go to Newton Haven and get into it."
Fellner muses, "This time, their characters are on separate planes -- a ways from coming together. The appeal of Nick and Simon as an on-screen team is that you want to hang out with them, you want to be in the pub with them. Some people might even want to sleep with them; while that's not on my list of to-do things, they are charismatic.
"Off-screen, they're always a pleasure to be around, and incredibly professional to work with -- which, for a producer, is a great pleasure."
Park reflects, "There's been a proper bromance going on since before [the pre-movies television series] Spaced. Simon and Nick bring out the best in each other. I remember, at the read-through for Shaun of the Dead, seeing Tim and Eric looking at each other: 'Yeah, this is going to work.'"
Wright notes, "On Spaced, Simon and Nick came to me fully formed as a partnership. They can finish each other's sentences. They have an innate chemistry."
"In our own lives," comments Frost, "Simon's and my friendship is probably as strong as it's ever been. Ours has evolved; the characters' in The World's End has not."
The added number of roles for acting contemporaries of Pegg's and Frost's further enhanced the writing and filmmaker processes. Frost says, "I had to up my game -- I didn't want to get lost in the cast."
Park adds, "For the rest of the cast, Simon and Edgar knew who they wanted. They wrote the characters in those actors' voices."
Pegg confirms, "We had these actors in mind, to the point where we'd often write 'Eddie Marsan' instead of 'Pete.' We wanted to get these actors who were at the top of their game.
"What we also got were 40-year-old men who could be incredibly immature."
Marsan reveals, "Martin Freeman has an encyclopaedic mind, especially for music, so he would set up quiz games for us to compete in.
"We all mucked about; we were getting paid to go to work in pubs. Nick Frost was the joker of the pack."
Wright remembers, "They could get very silly at times. Order had to be kept!"
While not quite life imitating art, the on-set camaraderie was a natural extension of the carefully scripted interactions. Paddy Considine, cast as Steven, offers, "These characters are people who haven't grown as much as they think they have. Any viewer will be able to hook into that. What's funny, and what's also believable, is that the shared group dynamic takes hold and they resort to teenaged instincts again.
"My character, Steven, wanted to be the group's leader but never quite was because his fellow 'rock star in training' Gary always overshadowed him. Even though Steven has tried to put some distance between who he was at 18 years old and who he is now, that old feeling kicks in and his resentment comes through."
Wright praises Considine as being able to "play the sensitive puppy, and yet also throw a punch -- Paddy is great in the action scenes."
Considine and Freeman had worked with the team before, while Marsan was on everyone's radar because of his performances in a variety of films. Pegg remarks, "Having seen his dramatic skills, we figured that Eddie would have the chops to do a comedy like this. He brings a wonderful sweetness to Peter."
Wright adds, "I'd met Eddie on a couple of occasions, so I knew he could be funny. While writing the part for him, I also thought of his character in Vera Drake, where Eddie also played a loyal nice guy."
Marsan sees The World's End as "really a film about midlife crisis, trying to rediscover yourself. These guys are going through that -- as we all do -- and their being put in extraordinary and extreme circumstances is where the comedy comes from. Peter was the wallflower of the group; over the course of the story Peter has to find his courage and self-esteem, because he still feels as insecure as he did when he was teenaged.
"There's a craft and a dexterity that's required of actors when you do something this clever and funny, plus a kind of choreography with regard to the timing. I wanted to work with people who are very good at the discipline of all that, and learn from them. Nick and Simon and Edgar work so well together."
He adds, "If we were younger, it would be competitive among the actors because we'd all want to be the next big thing. But now we've got spouses and kids, and we're all earning a living so we can be supportive of each other; we enjoy being around each other and feel confident in what we're doing."
Considine, who directed Marsan to acclaim in Tyrannosaur, confides, "I was out of love with acting for a while, but working on The World's End it's really come back well for me. Edgar is such an assured director, and when you're working with generous people, you can keep learning. There were different energies all around me on this movie -- like Simon going off the leash."
"Gary is a brilliant character for Simon to play, a whirlwind of enthusiasm and denial," states Freeman. "When he and Edgar told me who else was on their wish list to play the friends, I was keen to join up with them again to play Oliver."
Wright reports, "The part was written for Martin, but it's somewhat an amalgam of friends of mine -- who I'm still friends with."
Freeman reflects, "I liked what the script had to say about friendship: losing it and then trying to regain it.
"Of the five friends, Oliver is the most detached. He always has been, and had pretensions and Wall Street ambitions even back when they were in school -- he had a mobile phone before anybody else and now wears the Bluetooth with no irony. Not very me, so there was acting required."
Acting was indeed required, notes Rosamund Pike, for the many drinking scenes. She reveals, "What our merry band is drinking throughout the film was non-alcoholic; it was an interesting concoction which I believe was cream soda-based, with perhaps a hint of lemonade."
Working Title invited Pike to participate in a read-through of the screenplay and perform the part of Oliver's younger sister Sam -- whose mere existence back in school days was enough to shore up Oliver's place in the group. In turn, Pike's performance in the reading was enough to shore up her place in the cast. Pegg remembers, "Afterwards, it was like, 'We knew she was good but she's really good.' She went off to have a baby since we didn't actually start shooting until eight months later, at which point she surprised us all with her fighting skills."
Pike notes, "I knew I had to be ready for all the face-grabbing, hair-pulling, and face-pushing. The fights and the stunts work on extra levels, which is cool. These were more fun than even the ones I've done with swords in other movies, because these combine the very very violent and the very very funny.
"Having enjoyed their other movies, I could see what Edgar was going to do as director -- with a perfect partner in [cinematographer] Bill Pope -- and this new script had me laughing from the word go. We can all imagine reuniting with people we haven't seen since school, including the one guy who hasn't moved on. If you can't identify that person, it's probably you; maybe that's what people say about me..."
Wright reveals, "Ros asked me, 'Who's my character based on?' and I told Ros that Sam was actually based on an old girlfriend. Ros asked if we were still in touch; even though we dated about 21 years ago, she was still a friend. And so, Ros went to meet her for a meal in her hometown and apparently they had a whale of a time. I don't know what they talked about and I'm not sure I want to know, but Ros came back and told me, 'Yeah, I got it.' Ros' character comes off very well, so I hope my ex will be happy.
"Ros is super-'method.' She drank a whole prop pint. She threw herself into the action scenes, asking 'Why can't I do that shot?' rather than have the stuntwoman come in."
Pike notes, "I hadn't done a movie with any of this group before, but everyone was inclusive; people weren't disappearing back to trailers or dressing rooms."
Frost reflects, "Often we would sit around and look at Rosamund's peachy alabaster skin, which is faultless. Then we would sing to her."
Pegg adds, "She walked into this very male environment, and was completely and utterly at home. With actors that Edgar doesn't know from previous shoots, he takes a little more time to make them feel more at ease."
The feeling on an Edgar Wright set is, says Pegg, "that you're working with a perfectionist. I've always marveled at Edgar's innate talent and his knowledge of cinema. He's matured as a filmmaker, and has immense technical know-how."
Eric Fellner comments, "This is a director who knows what he wants -- which angles and what shots."
Nira Park affirms, "During the first shoot I ever worked on with Edgar, we immediately got on because we have a very similar sense of humor -- and because neither of us like to compromise unless we really have to. On the fourth day, it was getting late and I said so, but he said, 'I am going to get this shot.' Which he did, and he was right, because it made the scene much better; he knows exactly what he needs for a scene to work."
The director knew he wanted to reteam with director of photography Bill Pope following their previous collaboration on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wright states that "you don't find many people who are as good at shooting action as they are with performance and with actors. Bill is so experienced; there's not a shot he hasn't done, but he never has the attitude of 'been there, done that.' He's excited about every scene and has lots of ideas. We've very quickly achieved a shorthand, and he's become a great friend.
"I knew that he would give a more cinematic eye to the British locations, especially as an American cinematographer shooting English pubs."
Knowing that he would be making the movie with Pope, Wright also "fought to shoot the movie on film [stock]. No disrespect to digital [cinematography], but we shot Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz on 35mm, and I wanted The World's End done that way as well. The prologue, the 1990 section, was shot on 16mm."
As a fellow director, Considine remarks that "what I love about Edgar is that he walks the film through in his mind. He has the technical skills like with camera set-ups, but what's important is he enjoys performances and wants the actors to make him laugh."
With the script having been locked well in advance of filming, Wright notes that his mandate during the rehearsals and pre-production period was "to rehearse it a bit like a play. We don't really do a lot of improvising on the set."
The director encouraged the principal cast members to spend time with the younger actors playing the teenaged incarnations of their characters. Movement coach Cal McCrystal worked with all 10 performers, taking them though mime exercises and coordinating physical traits that would bridge the two time periods. Wright remembers, "We did a 'mirroring' exercise where we got the younger actors to copy the older actors, and it was fun to watch them do impressions."
Also charged with devising movement was choreographer Litza Bixler, who with her team rode herd over local and agency extras, dancers, and stunt performers. Bixler had worked on Shaun of the Dead in a comparable capacity, and Wright again wanted physical movements from on-screen masses to match his vision.
Some players in the cast will come as a surprise to audiences, but far more pop up in The World's End as a point of pride after having previously been in Shaun of the Dead and/or Hot Fuzz. Among those who have now done three movies in a row with the team are Rafe Spall, who made himself available for one day's work in a bit part; Garth Jennings, a fellow film director of Wright's; and a well-known actor who is heard but not seen. Park states, "This supporting cast is part of our family."
Even more so than the cast, the crew was shored up by veterans of the previous movies made by the team. Production designer Marcus Rowland, who has worked on all of Wright's features, was brought in early on. He realized at the script stage that "to fit the budget, we would only build the most essential pub sets. These would be the ones with the best production value, where we could achieve things that we would never be able to achieve on location -- moving walls for camera set-ups, setting up breakaway fixtures, sending cars crashing through...At locations, they tend to ban such things!
"For the more dialogue-led pub scenes, or for some of the pubs that the characters are in for only a short period of time, we didn't build but went out to actual locations. One point in the script is that pubs are getting branded with dressing that follows from one to the next, and their old charms and individual characteristics are disappearing. So we were doing much the same decor each time."
Wright remarks, "What we've seen in Britain happening to pubs is that these places from the turn of the last century are being jazzed up with funky signs and fancy menus. A lot of the time, the elements are identical from pub to pub. So is this the homogenization of a culture? Or are people lamenting the loss of something which wasn't that great? Simon and I wanted to discuss both sides of the argument through Gary's warm feelings about his hometown and the others' less romantic memories."
Graphics, signs, and logos in and around Newton Haven were carefully designed and painted since there are script references that edge into plot points. "You'll also see specific imagery on the beer pumps and beer mats," says Rowland.
For the special effects under visual effects supervisor Frazer Churchill, Wright hewed to the tenet that "the best effects are a combination of physical and digital. Even though what happens in The World's End becomes insane and surreal, Frazer and our crew ground the effects in a sense of realism. Things were done on-set, and then we would use digital augmentation. This way, the actors could react against something even if they had to not look 'there' or don't touch 'here.' Nowadays, digital effects have gotten so good that people don't have the patience to do practical effects any more. We were really able to use our imagination, but also plan everything out.
"The villains of the piece were an amalgam of half-destroyed action figures that I played with as a child as well as poster images for sci-fi movies such as John Carpenter's [1982 version of] The Thing and the original [1975 Bryan Forbes-directed] The Stepford Wives. I made a compilation reel of influences for the crew, including -- and this was a real inspiration -- Ray Harryhausen's skeletons work in Jason and the Argonauts."
On the set, Wright regularly conferred with all department heads including film editor Paul Machliss. The latter's time on-set was especially well-spent when fight sequences were being filmed. Wright notes, "Editing on-set was particularly important for the big scenes, when you're just not going to get as many pages [of script filmed] a day."
The editing was also coordinated with the efforts of music supervisor Nick Angel -- another longtime member of the team, whose name was used for Pegg's Hot Fuzz character -- in part because "Gary's soundtrack is from the popular consciousness of between 1989 and 1993," says Pegg. "It's a mix tape, and it gets combined with [composer] Steven Price's score."
Wright elaborates, "The idea with the period soundtrack of the movie is that it is Gary's mix tape that never goes away; it's in the car, but it also permeates the film. When Simon and I were writing the script, we had a playlist of maybe 300 songs from the years 1989 to 1993 that we would keep running on 'shuffle.' It would get us in the right zone. There are a lot of corkers from the music of that time when we were teenagers, and the songs used in the finished film reflect that."
With or without musical accompaniment, action scenes were edited on set and Machliss would assemble scenes swiftly. This helped Edgar Wright keep the actors on point, hone the action sequences, and keep the filming on schedule.
Simon Pegg marvels, "You'd do a take, walk off the set, and be able to see the take edited into the movie within seconds. During our nearly four weeks of night shoots, this would spur us on and give us the energy to keep going."
The majority of the night shoots on location took place in Letchworth Garden City, in Hertfordshire. With extensive community cooperation, the production filmed both interiors and exteriors in the historically and architecturally significant town -- making it the first major movie ever to do so. Grateful to the local residents, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost took a break from filming to preside over Letchworth's annual holiday lighting ceremony. A second storied Hertfordshire town, Welwyn Garden City, was also the site of location filming.
Additional locations included Gunnersbury Park in West London; the Blue Fin building in Southwark, London; and the High Wycombe train station, portraying itself in the scene in which Gary collects his reunited friends to drive into Newton Haven.
Among other Hertfordshire shooting locations, the unit spent weeks lensing specially created interiors at the famed Elstree Studios, where cinematic touchstones such as the first Star Wars trilogy were filmed. Pegg states, "As a film lover, to be standing -- much less working -- there was an extraordinary privilege. I felt lucky, and not a little moved."
All told, says Nick Frost, "Of the shoots I've done with Simon and Edgar, this was the nicest in terms of having a laugh."
Eddie Marsan comments, "I think that reason audiences will have a good night out seeing The World's End is because they will see themselves in Peter or Gary or Andy or Oliver or Steven. Younger audiences will identify as well, because they're right now at the stage that the characters are trying to recapture.
"Plus, these characters are played by really hot actors."
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