In ‘The World’s End,’ Simon Pegg is not so easy to peg down

Simon Pegg is pictured here attending the World Premiere of 'The World's End' at last month in England.  (Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Simon Pegg attends the world premiere of “The World’s End” last month in England.
Credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press

For the finale in director Edgar Wright’s so-called “Cornetto Trilogy” — following “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” — actor and co-writer Simon Pegg wanted to play something other than the nice guy. Enter the loudmouthed, stuck-in-the-past Gary King, who reunites his reluctant high school chums for a night of binge drinking and nostalgia in “The World’s End.” While Gary is very much the hero of the film, he’s not exactly likable, and that’s entirely by design, according to Pegg.

“Selfishly, I wanted to be the overtly comic one in this,” Pegg says. “And I wanted to make Gary as maddening and irritating and difficult to like as possible because I knew ultimately there was an excuse for it. And also, it’s just a lot of fun to be such a dick. As an actor, it’s a gift.”

Pegg’s Gary was very much the top dog in high school, leading around his pals (played as adults by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) with little regard for how his future might play out. “I knew guys like that who were the absolute most popular boy. They were the best-looking, they were in a band, they were the lead singer of that band, they got all the girls — and then they never quite moved on past that,” Pegg says.

“That glory was so intense that anything that came subsequently was unfulfilling and that ate away at them, so that they started to live in the past and then eventually just became shadows of who they were in every way, all their potential lost. And it’s really sad. I wanted Gary to be at once maddening and lovable and dickish.”

Quite a tall order for the protagonist of a film. But then Pegg and Wright, as much as they revel in genre conventions in their comedies, are always looking to subvert mainstream expectations. That includes — not to give too much away — the ending of “The World’s End,” something Pegg sees as an antidote to the barrage of Hollywood endings. “I think the re-establishment of the status quo is a device which might anesthetize audiences a bit, might make them feel a bit nice when they leave the theater, but ultimately it makes you forget the film,” he says.

“When we go to the movies often, we see normality and then we see it disrupted, then we see it return to normal and that’s why we leave kind of thinking, ‘Oh, that was nice,’” he says. “When in actual fact, sometimes it’s good to upset the status quo completely and leave it undone. I think it’s more challenging to an audience to not give them necessarily what their comfort zone wants.”

The Comic-Con complex

A self-proclaimed geek and longtime comics fan, Pegg feels right at home at San Diego Comic-Con, where he and Wright brought “The World’s End” for an early U.S. unveiling. But given how much Comic-Con and the popular culture it celebrates have come to dominate the entertainment industry, Pegg admits he was a bit worried.

“I read an essay on America by Jean Baudrillard when I was at university and it was all about the infantilization of society and about how we are kept young by being fed — this is a very contentious subject here — arguably juvenile stuff,” he says. “It keeps us young because it keeps us in touch with our childhood, makes us more pliable, makes us a bit easier to control. It was all about the way that it suits the dominant ideology, late capitalism, to keep us in a state of arrested development because it makes us easier to convince to be consumers and stuff. And here we are.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

Philadelphia principal has President Obama's ear

The West Philadelphia head is gathering ideas to present to the White House.

Local

Neighbors testify at Overbrook roommate slaying trial

Neighbors and roommates were called to testify Wednesday in the trial of Renaldo Robichaw, 56, charged with murder for the death of roommate Albert Smith, 48.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

Movies

Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival. We mean that in the best possible way. The…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Eagles will spend Thanksgiving in Dallas, play four…

The Eagles have an impressive, challenging and exciting schedule in 2014.

NFL

NFL releases Eagles 2014 schedule

The Eagles have four primetime games, face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and host the Seahawks in a dynamic, challenging and impressive schedule.

NHL

All signs suggest Steve Mason will start in…

Flyers head coach Craig Berube elected to put Steve Mason in net for the final minutes of Game 3.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."