Three years ago, the United States was not quite ready for Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Now, the merry jesters who unleashed 2004’s zombie genre romp “Shaun of the Dead” have established themselves as darlings on the international cinematic scene – the geeks have become the stars.
Their fans include Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, whose new film “Grindhouse” features a fake trailer directed by Wright and featuring Pegg and Frost, “Lost” and “Alias” creator JJ Abrams, who cast Pegg in “Mission: Impossible III” (and whose next film, a prequel to the original “Star Trek” series, is of particular interest to Pegg – “I want to be a red shirt,” he said), and the legendary George Romero, whose “Night of the Living Dead” movies were the chief basis of “Shaun ” – he returned the favor by giving Pegg and Wright a cameo in his last film, “Land of the Dead.”
On Friday, the boys from Britain are serving up another slice of fried gold, this time training their well-honed comedic sights from zombies onto the world of the buddy cop film. Taking the “Bad Boys” and “Lethal Weapon” franchises, adding a dash of the original “Wicker Man,” blending in a generous helping of their take-no-prisoners comic absurdity and throwing in a renegade swan, the result is “Hot Fuzz,” a tighter and perhaps even funnier follow-up to “Shaun.”
“I think there’s a certain amount of affection for ‘Bad Boys 2,'” says Wright, who co-wrote and directed “Hot Fuzz.” “We wanted to make a film within that genre, and the idea behind ‘Hot Fuzz’ is that these films don’t exist within the U.K. There’s no precedent for them at all, so we thought we’d have a lot of fun by taking the sleepy rural U.K. and dropping a Bruckheimer in the middle of it.”
The film stars Pegg as Nicholas Angel, a tough-as-nails cop who’s transferred from London to placid northern England when his arrest record begins to make the rest of the department look bad. “With ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ I argue that we didn’t do any ribbing of zombie films,” Pegg said. “But with ‘Hot Fuzz,’ there’s a little bit more parody in there, cos those hijinks and high-octane and high everything are ripe for a little bit of ribbing, but with a great amount of affection, never with a sneer on our face.”
“I think you could say it’s ribbed for your pleasure,” quipped Wright.
The international buzz that “Shaun” created was helpful not just for the trio’s careers, but also for “Hot Fuzz” itself – their higher profiles enabled the creators to attract a higher-profile cast, including Timothy Dalton, Jim Broadbent and Paddy Considine. Also, keep your eyes open for cameos from Cate Blanchett and avowed Pegg-Wright-Frost fan and “Lord of the Rings” creator Peter Jackson.
“We wanted to cover every single type of cop film, whether it be serial killer thriller, corruption film, conspiracy, buddy cop, action film – if we’d had a bit more money and time, it would literally be blowing more shit up,” Wright said. Thus, in “Hot Fuzz,” the trio has made the cop movie they’ve always wanted to – well, perhaps not entirely. There was one element that, given more time and money, Frost would have included: “I would like to have seen a Viking burial somewhere in there. A burning longboat.”