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It Takes A Village
The script for Hot Fuzz ultimately called for some 50 speaking – and several non-speaking – roles to be cast. But for the buddy-cop duo of Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman, there was never any doubt who would fill those shoes – Simon Pegg and his real-life best friend (and best man) Nick Frost, together again after Shaun of the Dead. And why not? "They're just a brilliant pair onscreen,” marvels Wright. "Their chemistry is at the center of Hot Fuzz, even more so than in Shaun. In cop movie tradition, they're not buddies all the way through; Nick's character likes Simon's from the beginning, but it isn't initially reciprocated…”

Frost notes, "You know, now that Simon is married, I don't get to see him as often. So when someone says, ‘Do you want to spend four months with your best mate,' it's always going to be a ‘yes.'”

Pegg enthuses, "Nick was always a part of the equation, always always. He's our secret weapon. It's very easy to write for Nick. I always thought he was the funniest guy I knew. He's a very natural talent, and we have a really good onscreen relationship in that we are best friends and can bounce off each other so well.”

Although Frost wasn't directly involved in the scriptwriting process, he was kept in the loop by Pegg and Wright throughout, and was able to make key contributions. "Simon and Edgar are quite happy for me to come in with suggestions. I came up with the name Danny Butterman,” reveals Frost. "I said I would only do the movie if I could call him Danny Butterman. It was a name I'd been thinking of; I wrote it down a while ago. It has a nice Hobbit feel to it.”

The son of genial Sandford police chief Inspector Frank Butterman (played by Academy Award winner Jim Broadbent), Danny is a likable but naïve young officer, a huge action movie buff who has never seen real-life action but would like to. "Jim Broadbent said that he'd never seen a more enthusiastic man than Danny; he's enthusiastic about being alive,” laughs Frost. "He loves his dad and his village, and there's no crime so he doesn't have to work hard, and he gets to wear a uniform. When Nicholas Angel comes to Sandford, Danny sees in Angel everything he always wanted to be.”

Other actors from Shaun of the Dead were invited to join up for the new movie; there are also surprises in the roll call of the cast, and not all of them are credited – including an Oscar-winning filmmaker. Most gratifyingly, the filmmakers realized their dreams to cast venerable U.K. actors as prominent Sandford villagers. Happily, their first choices for each role were up for the project. And what first choices they were; "icons we adore,” as Wright says. "I'm proud of our ensemble in this movie.”

Timothy Dalton, whose Prince Barin portrayal in Flash Gordon is a personal favorite of Wright's, remarks, "When I read the script, I realized that I'd never read anything like it before; I jumped at it. I said to Edgar during filming of this one sequence, ‘This is more fun than anything I ever did on a Bond movie.'”

Accordingly, the actor, who plays supermarket manager Simon Skinner in Hot Fuzz, performed his own stunts for that sequence, a car chase which Wright calls "the most fun part of the shoot by far; I'm lying in the back of a police car with its door off, watching a tiny TV monitor of what was being filmed, going down a road at eighty miles an hour, with grit and mud going all over my face because the door is open!”

Dalton adds, "Making this movie was also a thrill because of the people I was working with; even if we'd not worked together before, we are all part of our British industry.”

Paul Freeman, cast as Sandford's reverend, says, "It grew more amazing every time anyone was added to the cast list. Edgar and Simon could quote lines from everything we'd all done.


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