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Feature: Hot Fuzz

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Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reveal why their action comedy was the perfect excuse to act like big kids

The idea of an action-packed buddy cop film set in a sleepy English village may sound an unlikely film premise, but for Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, who were the force behind the low-budget zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead, it was the very implausibility that was so appealing. And they certainly rose to the challenge of taking something as tame as the British police force as the basis for a thrilling action movie.

“For quite some time I think the majority of output of younger British movies that weren’t period dramas has been crime thrillers,” says Pegg. “It kind of felt like it was time to turn the tables and address the law issue. And also we thought how are we going to make our police, who wear jumpers for goodness sake, cool? It was like, how do you put zombies in London? It was the idea that it might not be able to be done that actually made us want to do it in the first place.”

Pegg, who co-wrote the script with the film’s director, Wright, stars as Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a high-flying London cop who is relocated to a small rural village by his superiors for making the rest of the force look inadequate. And it’s clear the actor relished the chance to play at being a screen cop.

“You know, cops and robbers, along with cowboys and Indians, is one of the earliest, most adversarial games that you play as a child,” Pegg muses. “So doing that alone was fun. But then to be jumping through the air with two pistols, and running from explosions, and getting blown up and being in car chases with James Bond [Timothy Dalton also stars]. As I was writing it, I was suddenly thinking, ‘Hang on, I’m going to have to do this as well’. And often I’d look at the script and think, ‘You bastard’, because I was in a lot of pain a lot of the time.”

It seems for Frost, who plays Angel’s dim-witted sidekick PC Danny Butterman, the real thrill of working on Hot Fuzz was the chance to attempt his own stunts, whether it be a high speed car chase after an AWOL swan, or a shoot-out in the local supermarket.

“We always try and do all of them, really,” Frost reveals. “But there is a point where our stunt co-ordinators come in and say, ‘No, you’re not doing that’. By nature, we’re both quite rough and tumble fellows. So it’s hard when somebody says you can’t do it.

“But in the first week, we lost three [stunt doubles]!”

With double the budget of their last film collaboration, Shaun, and with a star-studded ensemble cast (including Edward Woodward, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Anne Reid, Stephen Merchant and even uncredited cameos from Cate Blanchett and Peter Jackson), Hot Fuzz looks and feels more like a Hollywood hybrid than its predecessor, but it has lost none of the British quirkiness and idiosyncracy that made Shaun such a crowd-pleaser.

“It’s much more of an American genre but weirdly an even more British film,” argues Wright. “We wanted to make it a collision between the mundanity of the job of being a police officer in a quiet town and this Jerry Bruckheimer-like explosion of carnage.”

by Natalie Braine

Read the full interview in
Ultimate DVD #84

Photo © Universal Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #84
June 2007
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