Interview with ‘The World’s End’ actor, Nick Frost
With an all-star cast that includes Simon Pegg (Shaun Of The Dead, Paul) and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Paul), The World’s End follows a group of mates as they reunite in their hometown to repeat an epic pub crawl they once completed in their youth – only for their plans to be seriously stuffed-up by a series of apocalyptic events. Action-packed and funny as hell, the film sees its pub-crawlers encountering everything from peeved-off locals to nasty alien life-forms.
Here, Nick Frost (pictured above, second from the right) – who plays one of the lead guys, Andy Knightley, in the film – talks about some personal experiences that aren’t too dissimilar from the wacky scenarios on screen including, of course, boozing it up big-time…
What was the atmosphere like on set of ‘The World’s End’?
Well, we’re all mates. I worked with Eddie Marsan on Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Paddy Considine was in Hot Fuzz (2007). And we’ve known Martin Freeman for 15 years as a friend, so we all have a laugh. I think people presume that because we are comedians, we just sit around yacking and cracking gags all day. There is some of that, obviously, because we are mates and we find each other funny while still working hard. That is partly the reason why me, [director] Edgar Wright and [co-star] Simon Pegg work as a trio; the fact that we all share a work ethic. Also, the thing about Edgar is that he will finish the shoot, say at nine o’clock at night, and he will then go off to an edit suite for two hours. Then he will go home and he will get up at 4am to compile a shot-list and then he will come and work all day and he will do that again and again and again. As an executive producer and as an actor and a friend, I cannot do less than that because it throws things off. You need to support him in any way you can and if that means hanging around all day every day doing stuff after work, you do it.
Was it difficult to find the character’s voice, because you didn’t participate in the writing?
This is the fourth film Simon and I have done together. It is the third film Edgar and I have done together, and I am really lucky that they write to my strengths and we all agreed before we kicked off that we wanted it to be different in terms of Simon’s and my dynamic. I think people assume that I am that goofy kind of nice, sweet, stoned idiot, which is not the truth. I am probably nearer to this character and it was nice to get a chance to wear a nice suit and to be angry for most of it and to fight and to do some nice physical work!
We didn’t know you had such an action hero inside you…
I had an inkling! We did four weeks but I had just finished a film a week before we started The World’s End where I had danced. I play a dancer so I trained every day for seven months before we shot anything, so I had to be at a professional level. It was salsa dancing. I had never danced salsa and after I shot that film I had one week and then I went into The World’s End, so I was really fortunate. Choreographing a big fight scene where I fight ten men at the same time is like choreographing a dance and my choreography muscle was quite strong so I could pick it all up.
So all that punching in ‘The World’s End’ came naturally to you?
The punching comes very naturally to me. I kick-boxed for many years so I was quite good at the combat. The challenge was not hurting anyone. When you are fighting on camera with fists you can do things to hide it, to sell it. You get good reactions and it looks great but when you have big stools for arms, like I do in the film, you cannot do that. There were two or three times when we went for it and you just saw that there was no contact being made. We shot that first fight sequence for about eight days and the more and more we got into it the more I had to hit these poor stunt men with those stools. I am a big man and no matter how much fun there is in it they are still being hit by a 270-pound man. It is going to hurt. I was quite proud that no one was killed, but two stunt men were quite badly dazed.
Were you involved in the writing on the film?
No. After Simon and I wrote Paul (2011) there was talk that the three of us would write this, but I was always very keen not to get involved. Shaun Of The Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) worked because Simon and Edgar wrote them. I wouldn’t want to get involved with writing this and then to make things worse, because they’re such good writers. That said, they would always start a draft and I would do a very extensive set of notes on the whole script, and then the three of us would sit down for four or five days, go through all my notes and then the script line by line and then a new draft was made from that. Then of course we find things in rehearsal. Once you work with people like Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman, you have a lot fun in rehearsals.
Do you guys improvise on the set?
We don’t improvise because we don’t have the time. Often, a lot of improvisation comes at the end, when the scripted stuff is finished and the actors just fill in until the director says, ‘Cut’. But we don’t have that because Edgar knows exactly where it’s going to cut and exactly where we will pick it up. But anything that we do during rehearsal that makes us all laugh, that goes in and a new draft is brought out and we move forward again.
Is ‘The World’s End’ a trilogy with Shaun Of The Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007)?
I do not know. I think that it has been a called a trilogy by someone and now that has stuck. But it was always our intention to make three films and Cornetto’s feature in the films, of course. Simon Pegg and I got a lot of grief on Twitter because there was no Cornetto in Paul (2011), but Edgar Wright didn’t direct that. It is only a Cornetto film if it is the three of us.
What is the connection between the three films?
Ice creams, blood, fence gags. I don’t know. I think, looking at this film, it is about relationships between men and differing relationships between men and that relationship is like a marriage. If it does not evolve, it will fail and what you are left with is a Gary King [Pegg’s character] where it is all about, ‘Hey, do you remember when…?’ And that is only good for a while. I do not know any of those people in my life. I am always a move-forward, no-nostalgia kind of person because that will only sustain a conversation for so long before you get bored. I think the films are about friendships between men and the different stages of friendship between men.
And the films are all set among quite small communities…
That is where Edgar is from, a small, provincial, British, insular community. That is where he was born and brought up. Simon Pegg is from Gloucester and those towns are a bit like that, though they are not full off murderous robots and the occult and zombies. Where Simon Pegg and I lived for many years, Crouch End, that’s where Shaun of Dead (2004) is set, and Hot Fuzz (2007) is set where is Edgar Wright is from. Then, I suppose, The World’s End (2013) is a mish-mash of both. In the location of this film we wanted it to be like a ‘new town’, somewhere like Letchworth or Welwyn Garden City. They were built purposely by planners to try and create a perfect place where a commuter could live. As a result they are set out on a grid pattern and they are very logical and it was perfect for how The Network would have built this town. It is very logical and it suited the way the film looked.
Did you enjoy a few drinks while you were shooting the pub scenes?
The stuff we drank was all water mixed with a special burnt sugar formula and the prop guys had this kind of cream tonic soda water, which made a foam that they spooned into the pints and that’s what we drank.
Was it easy to down those drinks?
Yes. In rehearsals we did, because there is a certain choreography where we have to down a pint in seven seconds for it to work with the Alabama Song. We had to do it in seven seconds during this break in the song for it to work. We had a go in rehearsals to see if we could do it and only me and Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine could do it. Edgar Wright tried and probably drank 10mm and it all spilled down his cardigan. I did it in about five seconds! I lived in Israel for a year and we had a league for shotgunning beer. I was top of the league for a while!
Have you ever been on a pub-crawl like this?
Yes. For my stag-do a few years ago we did one. I do not remember much past three or four pubs. It could have been a load but I do not remember. I had a friend who came along with a bottle of absinthe, shaped like the Eiffel Tower, and that is the last thing I remembered. Me, Edgar and Simon tried to do one about ten years ago — because Edgar Wright had tried to do one when he was 16 in his local town. I think he did about six beers when he was a child and when we went back to do it — me, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg — he did about three and we had to go home because he was in such a state. When Simon Pegg and I drank a lot more, we had a pub that we loved and we sat in that pub. A crawl only really works if you are in Barcelona on Las Ramblas and you are stopping and having some chorizo and some peppers. That works as a crawl. But I am not sure it works so well in London.
‘The World’s End’ will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from December 5.
To view the trailer, click here.