With Simon Pegg and Nick Frost joined by Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan, Edgar Wright’s The World’s End boasts one of the best ensemble casts of the year.
But with long, exhausting night shoots, did the cast gel off-camera?
“I wish I could tell you a story where we hated one another, but we just laughed a lot,” said Frost, speaking exclusively to SciFiNow. “A lot of the time we’d just sit there and watch Paddy. Because Paddy left on his own will just dance around and say things inappropriately, and you just sit and you watch him. It’s amazing.”
“Paddy’s got a terrible habit of just talking right up until the point of action,” adds Pegg. “And the last thing that he will say will leave you so that when action is called you’re left there just trying to digest what Paddy’s just said, trying not to laugh.”
However, it wasn’t just Paddy Considine making the group ruin takes. “Martin Freeman is a dark horse because he likes to crack you up, he likes to make you laugh, but he pretends he’s not doing it,” Pegg explains.
“There’s a scene where he comes out of the toilets and he would do this thing where he’d smack his lips and he knew that he was making us laugh. But because he wasn’t on camera, every time we’d go ‘Fucking hell, Martin! Stop it!’ He’d be like ‘What? What? What am I doing?’ So that kind of banter and camaraderie was constant on the set.”
The World’s End adds Eddie Marsan to the Cornetto ensemble. Largely known for playing villainous roles in films like Tyrannosaur and The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, Pegg, Frost and Edgar Wright were determined that he would play mild-mannered, married-with-two-kids Peter.
“He’s just fantastic,” enthuses Frost. “I worked with him on Snow White [And The Huntsman], you know. We had the best time on Snow White, so when we were at an early point with this I was saying ‘We should look at Eddie, you know, he’s fantastic.’”
“Eddie is just a master at playing bad guys, he really is,” agrees Pegg. “He refers to himself as ‘Rent-A-C-Word Eddie Marsan,’ and we loved the idea of him playing a sympathetic, loveable character. Eddie was the only choice we ever had for Peter and he plays the part so beautifully.
“There’s a bit in the film where he’s listening to one of the characters droning on, and he falls asleep because he’s so drunk and it’s just pure Stan Laurel, you know? He wakes up and you can see him think ‘Where am I?’
“We were so lucky with our cast, it was our dream cast and we got it.”
The cast is rounded out by Rosamund Pike, who plays old flame Sam. When things kick off, Sam picks up a barstool and shows she can smash heads with the best of them.
“She gives as good as she gets,” Pegg tells us. “She really throws herself into it and she’s very confident and strong and brilliant in what was essentially a very boys-y set; she made herself heard and had a great time.
“We used to give her penguin cuddles,” Pegg elaborates. “When it was cold outside Rosamund would stand in the middle of all five of us and she’d turn around and round in circles.”
“And we’d all huddle in and sing her a song,” adds Frost. “And we’d turn round and she’d turn round like a counter-clockwise thing. It’s that thing with the penguins on the South Pole, when one of them has been on the outside for a while they all move in. And that next layer come out, that’s how they keep warm for months and months at a time.”
Both stars agree that having such a good atmosphere on set made shooting the more dramatic moments much easier. One scene in particular, in which the characters air their greivances, proved to be a challenge.
“That’s like the longest scene that we shot, it was like a nine page scene all at once, and it felt like proper acting,” remembers Frost. “And Paddy would say things like ‘It’s like the fucking Donmar Warehouse! Who the fuck’s gonna watch eight minutes of acting?’ ‘Yeah, no, I suppose you’re right! It’s a comedy film, who is going to watch it?’ But he’s amazing to watch.
“It also felt very supportive. We all have our moments in the film where we are angry or upset or sad, and it is proper acting. It’s not just goofing around, and I don’t think I’ve ever been on a set where you do that thing where you’d be [deep breathing] after cut, and you’d be standing trying to think ‘OK don’t cry, move on,’ and Eddie would come up and he’d [pat you on the shoulder] then Martin would come up and you’d get one of those [nods]. That happened all the time, and it makes you feel so comfortable.”
“Apart from the ball cupping,” Pegg interjects. “That was weird.”
“The ball cupping was weird, I don’t know why Edgar started that,” agrees Frost. But it’s nice, I’ve had this on most films, but you do that thing where you have your shower and you get your bag ready for the next day and you think ‘I can’t wait to go in.’ And that’s such a rare thing in any job that you think that.
“So to have a cast like we had and a great script that Simon and Edgar had written, it’s the third film, it felt special.”