Fandango was invited to the set of the final film in Edgar Wright's "Cornetto" trilogy at the end of last year. Here's what we found out.
It's December, and the temperature has hit single digits at Elstree, just outside London. As we pass soundstages that once played host to the likes of The Shining, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, we ponder how it came to be that Elstree's reputation today is as the host of Big Brother and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
But at least one movie, almost destined to be a cult classic, is in the making here today. On George Lucas Stage, the cast and crew of The World's End gather. It's the third part of the loosely connected "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy (aka the "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy), from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And, like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz before it, it's a tale of friendship set against a genre backdrop.
When we visit, though, precious little is known about the film. There are no trailers to go by, and the synopsis we've been handed is light on detail, to say the least. So what did we glean?
1. It's something to do with robots.
OK, so this has subsequently become a bit more obvious, but at the time Wright, Pegg and Frost were being especially cagey about the specifics. The clues were there for us to find, though. The scene being shot – which took place at a pub called the Hole in the Wall – featured five teenagers wearing bright white lights over their eyes, who chase our hammered heroes – Pegg, Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan – onwards.
And debris was strewn across the floor of the pub (more on that later), amongst which we spotted a few mannequin-like appendages, splattered with blue ink. Frost and Pegg, too, were covered in the blue liquid. "At no point in the film do we say, "You've got blue on you," insists Pegg, cringing, when we point this out to him.
2. So there aren't many in-jokes.
"There are definitely some running gags from the first two that don't appear in this one," admits Wright. "You don't want to feel like you're doing a victory lap for a third time. There are a couple of runners, but not many. And there are not too many film references either. It's a genre film, but it's not nodding to too many things. The genre aspect is the backdrop."
Confirms Pegg: "We kind of became known as the guys that do the movies about movies, and that was never anything we wanted to do. We're not spoofers. So with this film we didn't want to make references to any films, including our own."
3. It's based on a script called Crawl
The prologue of the film features 19-year-old versions of the characters on their first attempt at the pub crawl in Newton Haven. They fail miserably. This was the germ of the idea for Wright, who had written an entire script about young pub crawlers when he was 21, called Crawl. "I'd never done anything with it, but it had always been in the back of my mind," he explains. "That was the idea and it kept building. I eventually showed Crawl to Simon. He hadn't read it. I couldn't even reread it. Reading a comedy you wrote when you were 21…"
As the idea developed, the title came pretty quickly. "The World's End is a common pub name," says Pegg, "and from the very beginning the final pub in the crawl was called the World's End."
4. The pub names are cryptically revealing.
"The World's End is their goal, in every way," explains Pegg of how the pub names all relate, sometimes subtly and sometimes obviously, to the action that will take place inside them. Obviously, the final pub references the film's apocalyptic themes. Indeed, you could say that the plot of the film has been on the Web since the very first poster, featuring all the pub names, was launched ahead of shooting. "You'd never work it out," laughs Wright. The debris we mentioned, lining the floor of the Hole in the Wall? That'd be from the hole in the wall, punched by a crashed car. Pegg hinted that a "major actor" pops up for one key scene. Could he be the Famous Cock?
5. They're not pub crawlers.
"Despite what people might think from the films we've made, I don't actually like drinking a lot," reveals Frost. "Simon doesn't drink at all. It makes me feel a bit ill." But, he says, the boys did go on a pub crawl for Pegg's bachelor party, in Belgium. "That was a nice pub crawl. We nearly killed someone in a Portuguese restaurant."
"It's difficult for us to go into pubs because of what's happened," offers Pegg. "People come over and they're very nice, they want to buy you drinks and sit and talk to you. And sometimes you don't want them to."
Adds Frost: "People on Twitter say, ‘Oh, I'd love to spend a day in the pub with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.' We'd be done by one o'clock, you know."
6. Hot Fuzz was never going to have an all-American cameo.
Granted, this isn't a World's End-related fact, but interesting nonetheless… Pegg revealed a surprising studio note on Hot Fuzz. "We were getting notes from the studio going, ‘Maybe Jack Black could appear as a wacky FBI agent,'" he says. "No. As much as we love Jack Black and as much as there's a place for that in a different film, these films are resolutely British. A lot of the themes we've always been interested in – the struggle of the one against the many, and the pub as an icon of British culture – come back in The World's End times a thousand."
7. They finished shooting on the day the world was supposed to end.
According to the Mayans, we should have bitten the dust on December 21, 2012. Or, more likely, that was just the date the Mayans needed to redo their calendar. Still, a film called The World's End, which wrapped on the day of the supposed end of the world? "It'd feel weird if it wasn't such bulls**t," says Pegg. "It'd be good free publicity, but then nobody would be able to see the film."
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