As a rabid fan of Shaun of the Dead and Spaced, I can’t get enough of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. So when I heard that Nick’s TV "reality" show Danger 50,000 Volts was coming to American DVD, I was excited.
The DVD hits stores in the US on Tuesday (order it from CHUD.com here). It’s a funny and interesting program where Frost shows you how to get out of various life-threatening scenarios, including being attacked by an elephant, an exploding volcano and a sinking ship. The DVD set also includes an exclusive episode called Danger 50,000 Zombies, which features Nick’s Shaun co-star Simon Pegg.
If I was excited to get the show on DVD, I was even more excited to get on the phone with Nick Frost himself. Of course, this wasn’t my first chat with Nick…
Q: Nick, this is the third time I’ve interviewed you. I feel like we’re old friends.
Frost: That’s right! I think the last time we saw each other was in the foyer at the SoHo Grand. That’s quite a posh little name drop for us.
Q: I watched the whole series of Danger 50,000 Volts last night and I have to say that it’s really good. It’s really funny.
Frost: Good. A lot of people over here kind of expected it to be like Spaced. I did this in between when we did series one and two, and it was the kind of thing that, because I’d only been doing it for five or six years, I think as an actor – here anyways – you’re pushed to only acting. If you’re trying to be a straight actor and you’re doing a presenting job, which Danger is, it’s kind of frowned upon. But I think fortunately I did it while my career was kind of new and I didn’t know what I wanted to do or which way I wanted to go.
I think it’s funny. I still enjoy watching it, which probably sounds weird and megalomaniacal. I think it’s alright, we have a laugh and I think people enjoy the fact that you can see that we’re having a laugh.
Q: Exactly. You’re having a good time, you’re not too serious about it, and some of the stuff is really just interesting.
Frost: Every kind of piece of knowledge and information is usable. It’s actually what you should do. Whether or not you do use that – I don’t know how advisable that is.
We had meetings early on in the genesis of this show where they said to us, “We’re going to America to film and the Americans don’t understand what we’re saying, and they’re very different people. So why don’t we go over there and baffle them with our language and take the piss out of them.” From the very get go I didn’t want that to be the case. I think it’s an easy thing to do and it’s quite lazy, comically, to do that. It’s quite exclusive, you exclude people from the joke. I think what we’ve done is that we came over to America or Spain or Finland, where we shot, and we try to engage you. We engage these people rather than taking the piss out of them, we wanted them to take the piss out of me. To enjoy what we’re doing.
Q: Speaking of America, you wrestled an alligator in Florida. I was curious – you get out of the truck, run right over to the alligator and you just take him down – how much practice did you have?
Frost: That was it. That was the first time I had seen it and that was the first time I did it.
Q: You’re a very brave man.
Frost: Well, you know what, the bottom line was I’m fine as long as it doesn’t bite me. Anything else is a bonus. I did actually come away from that shoot with a black bruise the length of my forearm, because the alligator wrangler didn’t tell me that as well as the teeth the tail whips.
There was a little bit of bruising. And it pissed on me. Which I think was the most upsetting thing about it. But as long as you stay away from the pointy bits at the front you’re alright.
Q: What was the most dangerous thing you did for the show?
Frost: I think that, from the point of view that if it went wrong it could really injure me. There was Arachnid Attack. I hate spiders. I mean, I HATE spider, so having a spider on me…
The thing about Danger is that I kind of caught this syndrome, which I like to call Fuck It Syndrome, whereupon even though I hate spiders, once you get down there you know you’ve got to do it and you go, “Fuck it, I’ve got to do it, let’s do it.”
I was quite frightened of the elephants, I don’t mind saying that. They were big and frightening. You think, “Well if this elephant wants to eat me-“ I don’t think elephants eat people, but you know what I mean.
Also, Sinking Ship, that was an amazing one that we did. There’s a place down in Portsmouth, where the English navy have quite a big research and training facility. They have an actual section of a vessel, about 20 rooms or so, which is on a hydraulic lift, like something you would find at an amusement arcade. They can actually move the ship so it’s like you’re at sea, and then they can fill the whole thing with water. So they can train sailors what to do if their ship has been hit by a missile and is taking on water and stuff. That’s as real as – I know it sounds corny – but that’s as real as it comes without doing it. We did it with a bunch of sailors and they got into it.
Q: Was there anything they wanted you to do that you wouldn’t do?
Frost: Everything I wanted I did. I didn’t mind what they wanted me to do at all. The only thing – I don’t know if you’re going to get to see the second series, but in the second series there was one thing I wouldn’t do and that was to absail off the top of a building. I tried to do it, I got all the stuff on. At one point I even stood on the edge of the building, but I could not do it. Heights are a real big thing for me.
Q: On the DVD there’s a special feature, Danger 50,000 Zombies.
Frost: Oh yeah!
Q: How did that come about?
Frost: I think it came about because the production company, Princess, lost the series. They were going to release the DVD and we had no extras. We kind of got together and said, we better do something quick otherwise it’s going to be 19 pounds for a DVD which isn’t as packed as it should be. Me and Simon and Edgar had thought about Danger 50,000 Zombies for a while, and we mentioned it to John Riley the producer and he liked the idea.
We just spent a very self-indulgent day having a laugh, really. You can see that it’s quite a shabby kind of shambolic episode. You can see that we’re enjoying ourselves.
Q: There’s another series of the show – how long will the show go for, or are you done with it?
Frost: That was it. We did two series and there was talk of a third, but the thing about Danger is that there are only so many dangerous things you can do. Once you’ve wrestled an alligator and you’ve held a spider and you’ve been wee’ed on by army ants and you’ve arm wrestled a gorilla, there’s only so much you can do. The third series they were talking about the Russian training facility where they take you up in an enormous plane and you do a nose dive and you’re weightless. I think they got on to things like that and I reached the stage where I was saying, “Well… not so sure I want to that.”
There’s only so much danger out there, fortunately for us all.
Q: In the first series, the episode where you get heat stroke and have to take off your clothes and bend over and the guy takes off his clothes and fans you – was that a real thing or was that guy just a pervert?
Frost: [laughs] That was my classic acting skills! His name is Bruce Burgess.
Q: But he’s real guy?
Frost: Yeah, he’s the real deal. He’s a Royal Marines commander, which is the equivalent of – I guess, Marines special forces over there. He was an officer and he now spends a lot of time in the jungle developing survival techniques. We spent four days with him and when we met him he was just about to go into – he has malaria, and I think the kind of malaria he has is the kind you never get rid of. He was suffering quite badly with malaria.
But he did a very popular show over here which was out a couple of months back, where he spents eight weeks with different tribes all over the world and tried their drugs. In the Amazon they strip bark and mash it up and turn it into a dust which they blow up each other’s noses. And it makes you kind of hallucinate. He went to different tribes around the world trying out their good shit. It was an incredible series.
Q: How did you miss out on doing that show?
Frost: I have no idea. It’s not like it’s not something I haven’t thought of before!
Q: What’s next for you?
Frost: We just finished a film which I shot the end of last year, beginning of this year, called Kinky Boots. Which isn’t as erotic as it sounds. I did that with a guy called Joel Edgerton, an Australian actor who you probably know better as Uncle Owen in the new Star Wars films. And another guy called Chiwetal Ejiofor. Those two are the main characters, and I’m a little way down the list. It’s good, it’ll be fun, and we did it for Buena Vista Disney, so I think I’m 99% right in saying that it will get a US release. That’ll be out later this year.
Simon and Edgar have just finished the second draft of Hot Fuzz, and it’s looking really good. I think it’s going to be an amazing film.
Apart from that I’m doing a sketch show, we just started rehearsing it. We start shooting in three weeks time. It’s a sketch show for BBC3. It’s a nice atmoshphere, everyone is really nice. It’s not often in this business that you do a job and while rehearsing you get a really good feeling about it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, to be honest.
Q: Do you know what part you’re playing in Hot Fuzz?
Frost: Because it’s Simon and Edgar I don’t want to say too much, but I think it’s going to be a Pegg/Frost doubleheader again with Edgar directing. I think I’m kind of playing a dim West Country policeman. So a lot different from Ed, a lot different from Mike from Spaced, which is nice. It’s nice to be able to do something and think differently about a character and be a different person.
I think it’s going to be really nice, and I think Edgar would like to start shooting before the year’s out. I don’t know if technically or logistically if that’s possible yet.
Q: We’re all excited to see you guys come back for more.
Frost: I know it sounds like I’m blowing smoke up America’s asshole but whenever we come over there, when we did the tour and stuff, when we were there in January for signings, it’s always so nice. It’s just a pleasure.