As the observant among you will have picked up from our ramblings farther down the page – what? you don’t check for new content several times a day? – the Shaun of the Dead folks rolled through town last night on their ongoing North American press junket and this afternoon I had the chance to sit down with them for a too-brief fifteen minutes too pick their brains. Mmmm, brains. Since I’d already done a lengthy Shaun of the Dead themed interview with Edgar a couple months back – one that we will be posting prominently again once the release date gets closer – I opted to strike out into new ground this time and see what they had to say about their next project and the rumors starting to build around it. So, I sat down with my trusty tape recorder on a roof top patio with Edgar, Simon and Nick and this is what came out …
TMB: I figured that since we‚Äôve already done an interview about Shaun of the Dead I‚Äôd ask you about some other stuff ‚Ä¶
EW: Okay, cool. Fire away.
TMB: The next film that you guys are working on. I‚Äôve seen some titles floating around.
EW: We know it‚Äôs going to ‚Ä¶
SP: Edgar‚Äôs determined to use the word ‚Äòfuzz‚Äô.
EW: Yeah. I love the word ‚Äòfuzz‚Äô. Of all of the police nick names ‚Äòfuzz‚Äô has a particularly nice feel to it. There are various options with that. Hot Fuzz. Raging Fuzz. Blue Fuzz.
NF: Raging Fuzz. Has kind of a lesbian feel to it, doesn‚Äôt it?
EW: Hard Fuzz. Hard Fuzz is kind of a contradiction in terms.
NF: It sounds like a lesbian film.
EW: Well, that‚Äôs what‚Äôs good about it. They‚Äôll see ‚ÄòHard Fuzz‚Äô and then they‚Äôll see you and Simon on the poster ‚Ä¶
SP: Bumping donuts.
EW: Bumping donuts. Yes. And then they‚Äôll wonder what the fuck‚Äôs going on. But it‚Äôs very much in its infancy. We haven‚Äôt really started writing it. At the moment we‚Äôre in a stage of research. And not just watching old cop films. Actually doing research in the UK with police and trying to get some of the anecdotes and procedural stuff first hand so the cop stuff feels fresh and different. Hopefully the same way Shaun of the Dead did a very English spin on the zombie genre this will do a very English spin on the traditional cop / action film ‚Ä¶
SP: Which has always been based on what‚Äôs American, really. What we see on TV and film is generally a Hollywood product so the cop film is, you know, it needs the treatment. It needs the cup of tea treatment.
EW: There is this thought as well: I‚Äôve been thinking about the real coppers who don‚Äôt have guns, the unarmed police in the UK, and them running about. Do you think any of them ‚Ä¶ you know those things they have when you‚Äôre trying to give up cigarettes, what are they called?
SP: The Nicorette suckers.
EW: Placebos, yes. Do you think any police kind of run around and start going like [Points imaginary finger gun.] that at all in any way? If you‚Äôre an English policeman and you have to go up against a door what do you do? [Throws both hands up in mock terror? Surrender?] Go like that? What do you do with your hands? Or do you hold the truncheon like it‚Äôs a gun?
TMB: I think the only cop / action thing I‚Äôve seen coming out of Britain that actually has action is MI-5. All the other stuff is like Cracker, it‚Äôs all procedural ‚Ä¶
EW: Yeah, it‚Äôs all pathologist stuff. I mean there‚Äôs some in the UK, there‚Äôs some uniform cop shows. There‚Äôs The Bill and, there‚Äôs actually quite a few, Juliet Bravo, Cops ‚Ä¶
SP: Thief Takers.
EW: Thief Takers.
NF: Mersey Beat.
EW: But there aren‚Äôt really many films that star a uniformed policeman. I remember when me and Simon were first talking about it with Working Title and we said that we wanted the lead guy to be uniformed they walked up to us and said, ‚ÄúBut the uniform‚Äôs so un-sexy.‚Äù And I said, ‚ÄúWell, that‚Äôs exactly why it‚Äôll be cool.‚Äù And I also like the idea of it being a sequel to Shaun of the Dead in that Simon gets to wear a short sleeved white shirt with a blue tie instead of a red one. It‚Äôs kind of like an aesthetic sequel. The shirt sequel.
SP: I like Wellies. [Wellies? What the hell are Wellies? I‚Äôm smiling and nodding and pretending I understand here, but really it‚Äôs like they‚Äôve moved onto some parallel plane of existence.] I want to wear Wellies.
EW: Wellies? Okay. You‚Äôre getting this all first hand, yeah? It‚Äôs like we‚Äôre having a production meeting.
NF: We need to figure out what profession uses a yellow tie for the third film.
EW: A waiter at Wolfgang Puck‚Äôs.
TMB: Romero is obviously a key influence film-wise on Shaun, Romero and Carpenter, is there going to be the same kind of thing? Will you be looking to one particular film maker to influence the next one or is it too early to say?
EW: It‚Äôs probably too early. But we‚Äôd definitely like to, in the same way that we did in Spaced. One of our favorite bits of Spaced was the John Woo episode ‚Ä¶
TMB: The finger fight?
EW: The Camden episode. On the corner of Camden and Woo. Certainly those films. In a way the great thing about Hard Boiled and The Killer is that that‚Äôs the Cantonese take on the American genre. I‚Äôm a massive fan of Dirty Harry, the first film, not the sequels. I love the first Dirty Harry and Bullitt and that era of cop film. More recently the James Ellroy films. Even Training Day, I really enjoyed that although it seems to have a third act problem. Unlike Hard Boiled where it really doesn‚Äôt matter how over the top it is, Training Day is really, really great for the first two thirds and then the last action scene just slightly pushes it in the wrong direction. Which a lot of people have said about Collateral as well. It has the Speed problem. Anyway, it would be fun to do something like that. It‚Äôll be an action film and a comedy, obviously, first and foremost, but it‚Äôll also have elements of horror in it and the labyrinthine police procedural stuff and corruption ‚Ä¶ so me and Simon have been watching all kinds of stuff. Serpico, Walking Tall ‚Ä¶
SP: The original Walking Tall.
EW: The original Walking Tall. I‚Äôve seen The Rock remake which is like a children‚Äôs film but the original Walking Tall was a new one on us. We hadn‚Äôt seen that. It‚Äôs not really the sort of thing you can get in the UK.
EW: Absolutely bizarre.
SP: There‚Äôs a fantastic scene in that ‚Ä¶ Aside from the fact that we‚Äôre assuming it was shot in widescreen because the boom in shot so many times ‚Ä¶
EW: You‚Äôve got to see it Nick, you‚Äôd love it.
NF: The cop with a log?
SP: He‚Äôs kind of standing in the middle of the road and there‚Äôs a cop car coming towards him and he‚Äôs got his log and the cop car veers off and goes flying off the road and it explodes in the air before it hits the ground.
EW: It‚Äôs heading for a lake and it explodes in mid-air.
SP: There‚Äôs just no reason for this car to explode. It‚Äôs great.
EW: So we thought sort of ‚Ä¶ we were telling Nira, our producer, about some of the ideas and she hit the nail on the head. She said, ‚ÄúOh, the kind of film that you see in the bargain basement in the 7-11.‚Äù And yes, that‚Äôs exactly it. But again it‚Äôll just be interesting to put the English spin on it. Another thing I always find funny is that there was this spate of films in the UK that tried to make out that Manchester or Birmingham or Stevenidge (sp?) were as tough and uncompromising and action packed as New York or LA or Chicago.
SP: Yeah, that kind of fetishizing of British criminality, if I can be that wordy. I mean Lock Stock is an interesting movie, but the whole ‚Äòaint it cool to be a fucking gangster‚Äô it‚Äôs kind of like ‚Ä¶ naaah.
EW: We want to make it cool to be the uniformed cop. We want to make a cool cop film. And at the same time make it a damning indictment of the English police, and also get citizens to sign up.
SP: And hopefully uncover some of the dark secrets of the British countryside as well.
TMB: So, these casting rumors that started floating around ‚Ä¶
SP: That came out through an interview I did with Zoo magazine, which is kind of a lad‚Äôs magazine in the UK. They asked at the end of the interview, ‚ÄúWho would you like to work with?‚Äù and I just listed a bunch of people like Matt and Dave from Little Britain who are friends anyway ‚Äì I‚Äôve known Dave for years and years and years ‚Ä¶
EW: And they both appear in Shaun of the Dead in some respects. Matt appears visually and Dave, you can hear his voice in a couple of scenes as a newsreader.
SP: I was just really tired. I was in the office and when you get asked one of those questions you‚Äôre just like, ‚ÄúOh, well, y‚Äôknow ‚Ä¶‚Äù and then I tried to think of two Hollywood actors who I‚Äôd like to work with. And I love Alfred Molina. Him and Dustin Hoffman just came out off the top of my head. So, I‚Äôm learning how rumors can spread ‚Ä¶
EW: Like the Danger Mouse thing ‚Ä¶
[a little note here: we had talked about the Danger Mouse rumor at the screening the night before doing this interview so I didn‚Äôt think to follow it up here. What it is is this: when the ‚ÄòFuzz‚Äô casting rumors hit Simon, Edgar and Nick decided to try an experiment to see just how fast they could spread a rumor themselves and so they told some people in Seattle that their next film would be a $100 million dollar adaptation of Danger Mouse just to see if that rumor would arrive in their later stops before them. And? A certain other film site based around a certain large man dropped them a note the next day to find out if it was true.]
NF: When I read in Zoo that Matt and Dave were going to be in the film I actually felt quite threatened ‚Ä¶ I didn‚Äôt know what was going on ‚Ä¶
EW: Right after that interview this bloke texted me and said he‚Äôd heard Matt and Dave were going to be in it and I was like, ‚ÄúWhat?‚Äù
NF: Am I gonna be in it?
EW: Yes. But that said, one of the things that‚Äôs been nice about doing this film is that we, like with Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, with Simon at the center of it and this guy Nick Frost, I think you‚Äôve heard of him ‚Ä¶ Oh! There he is!
NF: A handsome young black man.
EW: We have Simon and Nick at the center of it but what was great about doing Shaun of the Dead is that we were able to bring new actors into our repertory company. I was saying last night that I love the things that the Coen Brothers and Tarantino and Wes Anderson do ‚Äì particularly the Coen Brothers who can swap genres on a dime ‚Äì but they can have the same actors who go through all different films. Like Steve Buscemi can be in a comedy or in a really tough gangster film and it just works. Obviously we‚Äôre predominantly going to do comedy stuff, but I love that now Bill and Penelope and Dylan are part of the gang. Do you know what I mean? It‚Äôs really nice. And that‚Äôs why I get excited when I see pictures of The Life Aquatic.
TMB: Trailer just came online yesterday.
EW: I saw it! I saw it! It‚Äôs fucking ‚Ä¶ you know what‚Äôs great is that the music on the trailer is Queen Bitch by David Bowie. It‚Äôs great. It looks fantastic. You look at it and it‚Äôs got Goldblum in it and Willem Dafoe ‚Ä¶
TMB: And the animation ‚Ä¶
EW: Oh! Henry Selick who did James and the Giant Peach and Nightmare Before Christmas ‚Ä¶ yeah. I saw the trailer. It‚Äôs really funny. But that‚Äôs the thing, there are several people who didn‚Äôt feature in Shaun of the Dead that we‚Äôd like to work with more. There‚Äôs such a great crop of comic actors like Rob Bryden, Matt and Dave, the League of Gentlemen guys ‚Ä¶
SP: We had such a wealth of choice for all of the roles. I‚Äôll tell you this because I know you‚Äôre a fan of the thing. It‚Äôs not particularly common knowledge and probably shouldn‚Äôt be [This is where you should stop talking if you don‚Äôt WANT it to be common knowledge. Just for future reference.] but right up until the end we always thought of Reese Shearsmith [League of Gentlemen] for David because Reese has that sort of spiky kind of antagonistic persona that he can portray and so when we finally realized that Dylan‚Äôs portrayal was going to fit better it was a really hard thing to do.
EW: The toughest thing about casting the film is that apart from Simon and Nick every part had three or four really good friends or colleagues up for the role and that was tough. Luckily nobody takes that personally.