Edgar Wright came fresh from finishing principal photography on Hot Fuzz in rainy England to Comic Con in sunny San Diego. The Hot Fuzz footage he and Nick Frost presented to the crowd on Sunday was hilarious – this isn’t “Shaun and Ed join the police,” and Simon Pegg’s supercop character seems especially delightful. They showed a couple of trailers (which will hopefully be up on the internet soon), including a gripping one that consisted of what appeared to be insert shots, like a blinking light and a man checking his watch. I’ve seen Shaun of the Dead more times than any other movie that came out in this century, but the Con footage hints that Hot Fuzz could give that record a run for its money.
Before the panel I sat down at a roundtable interview with Nick and Ed. This is not that interview. After that roundtable, I did what the West Wing creators call a “walk and talk” – Edgar and I did a one on one as we walked from the Omni Hotel to the Convention Center, avoiding trolleys and masses of fans. As you can tell from the interview, Edgar’s not 100% sure which of his upcoming projects will be next, but given his obvious enthusiasm and the complete brilliance of the source material, I hope it’s Scott Pilgrim.
Look for the more Hot Fuzz-specific roundtable interview later. In the meantime, enjoy this look at Edgar’s upcoming projects.
Q: With Ant-Man, what’s going to be the take? Avi Arad has told me it’s going to be pretty serious.
Wright: No, it’s going to have a comedic element to it. When it was first announced they made it sound like it was going to be a Men In Tights type of comedy, and that’s the last thing… I want a kick-ass kind of action adventure that’s really imaginative that takes the amazing premise of a shrinking hero and runs with it.
Q: It’s going to be heavy on special effects, and you haven’t done much in terms of big special effects.
Wright: That’s something that’s both daunting and exciting, to get into that world. It’s been really great the last couple of years, since Shaun, meeting some of my favorite directors and observing the way they work and stuff. Getting to know people like Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson is endlessly fascinating. And Sam Raimi as well – I was so fucking lucky that I got to be on the Spider-Man 3 set. When I was a film student, the thing I always wanted to do was shadow my favorite directors, like a work experience kid. I feel kind of like that now.
Q: What did you get to see on Spider-Man 3?
Wright: I was down there when they did some of Thomas Haden Church’s stuff. [Raimi]’s such a sweet guy. He did this thing where he stopped the work and he said to the whole crew, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if we could just stop working for a second because we have a good friend of ours from over in London. Who here has seen the film Shaun of the Dead?’ Maybe half the crew put their hands up. ‘And who wants their money back?’ And then he said, ‘Evidently Mr. Wright here thinks he can direct Spider-Man 3 better than I can.’ He wanted me to take the next shot, which I was too chicken to do. I could not work in the presence of the great man.
Q: What’s up with Them?
Wright: That’s something in the very early stages that me and Mike White started developing. It’s a very strange story, that, because Mike and Jack [Black] I met through Shaun, and I’m a huge fan of both of them and a huge fan of Mike as a writer, and what’s weird is that they’d optioned that book and I had read that book anyway, and even before I met them I had lots of connections with [author] Jon Ronson. My girlfriend’s dad was his tutor and agent, and he lives around the corner from me. It was very bizarre.
That’s at the very early stages. There are like three projects I have been working on in conjunction with this as well. After Shaun I found it was very tough to start from scratch again.
Q: So your plan is to just keep rolling along? I imagine you must be exhausted after Hot Fuzz.
Wright: I am pretty exhausted.
Q: Are you going to move right on to Ant-Man?
Wright: You know, it may not be the case – Ant-Man might not be the next film. It’s something I’m developing and I’m excited about it, but it’s very much at a first draft stage. In terms of the Marvel slate, Iron Man and the Hulk are going to be first to go. It might not necessarily be the next film. It would be great if it was, but I’ve also been developing a Scott Pilgrim adaptation, which is really exciting.
Q: I did see you hanging around with Bryan Lee O’Malley. That’s written?
Wright: We’ve done a draft of it.
Q: That’s going to have all six volumes, right? Even the stuff he hasn’t written.
Wright: The thing is that we actually worked with Bryan. Bryan is such a nice guy. It’s an adaptation of the six books, and Bryan, JK Rowling-style, has the plotline for the six books to a certain extent, certainly in terms of the villains and stuff, which is great. We were able to pick his brains. He’s such a great guy and I’m really excited about that, because the visual aspects of that seem great. What’s great about it is that it’s got it’s feet in two camps – it’s like Daniel Clowes with manga fights. It’s amazing. Have you read the book?
Q: I have. I love the book.
Wright: It’s brilliant.
Q: It’s funny because it reminds me a lot of Spaced, where there are these realistic characters and relationships in these over the top situations. But the challenge will be how do you handle some of that stuff, because Scott Pilgrim does often go so far over the top.
Wright: I think it would be interesting to do sort of a trippy – a certain type of martial arts is played out. After watching a bunch of martial arts films I said there should be a moratorium on women doing kung fu. Not that they’re not good at it! But every film since The Matrix has played it out. And Scott Pilgrim has a lot of ass-kicking females in it, but I think that what’s great about Scott Pilgrim is how it ventures into video game territory. The fights are much more fantastical. It’s not just like bloody, bruising violence. It’s psyche-outs and energy balls and waves of sound. The aspect of doing anime, phantasmagorical violence is really appealing.
Q: I’m excited just to see a bunch of female demons doing a dance routine, like at the end of the first book. Will you be sticking closely to that kind of stuff?
Wright: I want to figure out a way to do something that’s a balance of shot on location with elements of what Robert [Rodriguez] did on Sin City, in terms of ways of bringing Bryan’s artwork to the screen with framing and his use of sound effects. You know those panels where there’s an awkward pause and he has sort of four dots on screen? I think you should leave that stuff in. You should have the stats that come up and stuff. I think you could do a film where you watch it and you would want to watch the DVD immediately so you could take it all in. Have it be almost too much to take in on one viewing; have graphics onscreen that are too fast to read, designed just to be frame advanced.
Q: Casting Scott Pilgrim will be one of the hardest parts of this on some levels.
Wright: Definitely. Although I bet it would be fun to cast Ramona. [laughs] And Knives! And Kim Pine. I said to the guys at Oni Press that in my strange imagination I imagined the Oni Press store would be staffed exclusively with Kim Pine look-alikes. That is so not the case.
Q: If it was, I would so be down there right now and not interviewing you.
Wright: What’s so funny in those books – and Bryan is aware of it as well – is that he sort of draws all the girls the same, so he actually has to read it a couple of times just to see that Julie has a hair slide and Ramona doesn’t. Especially in a black and white book. But he’s such a such a talented guy.