Film Critic Joel Massie recently had a chance to sit down with writer/director Edgar Wright and star Nick Frost at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the home video release of “Hot Fuzz.”
Joel Massie : How much better does a pint look in HD quality?
Nick Frost: I’d say 30% better. (Laughter)
Edgar Wright: I haven’t actually got an HD player, but now that you say that I’m going to check it out. I wasn’t convinced with the whole HD thing, but now that I can see what a pint looks like I might have to see what it’s about. Good I expect. In fact I think you can do a good drinking game with both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
JM: Is there one yet?
EW: I don’t know actually. How would it work? Have a pint of beer every time they have a pint of beer. Maybe a shot every time they say the F-word?
NF: How about a pint of beer every time you see a policeman?
JM: What made you decide to have your finale in a supermarket?
EW: I used to work in a supermarket, in fact the very one that is in the film. I was a shelf stacker. It was a holiday job for five years. When they stormed the outside of the supermarket, it is where I used to work. When I was a teenager I guess I was just dreaming about fucking the place up. (Laughs)
JM: Are there a lot of extras on the Hot Fuzz DVD?
EW: Yeah there are loads. Even when we were filming we were trying to do DVD extras ourselves. Some of them are on the DVD, but the HD-DVD has everything. I think the Wal-Mart 2-disc addition has everything as well. So there are reams and reams of extras. We really enjoy doing the plot-holes, the animated segments that were in Shaun of the Dead. We tried to kind of do the things that fans liked from the last DVD. We even did another tv-safe version called Hot Funk. Let’s say that when Hot Fuzz appears on American Airlines I wanted it to be at least entertaining in the clean version. I always felt the TV versions of eighties action films like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Robocop were amazing in terms of some of the wonderful lines they gave us like “Melon Farmer”, “Muddy Funkster” and “Forget You”. We wanted to come up with some good ones like “Mother Hubbard”….
NF: “Beans and Rice.”
EW: Yeah “Beans and Rice” is a good one. We had a lot of fun doing the TV safe version.
JM: Nick I noticed you weren’t on the commentary for the single disc release…
NF: Yeah, well it will be on the HD-DVD release and the…..I can’t even say the company; the name hurts my mouth….
NF: Right, the Wal-Mart release, which is weird for us too. In fact during the whole film it just says Wal-Mart in the bottom corner. (Laughs)
JM: So the movie is out on DVD in the UK, how have sales been?
EW: It sold a million copies in four weeks, which is good.
JM: It broke records in the UK in theaters too.
EW: That’s right.
JM: Did they do anything special for you guys? Buy you a nice car?
NF: They actually bought us a case of champagne, which doesn’t seem much. (Laughs)
JM: (Pointing to their Starbucks) Did they buy you that coffee?
EW: (Laughing) No, no we just bought it ourselves.
JM: Did you get mobbed by the crowds down there?
EW: We genuinely don’t get mobbed by the patrons in Starbucks. We will basically try to walk up and down the show floor until we get recognized. (Laughs)
JM: What are you guys working on write now?
EW: Well we are in a furious writing period right now. Simon (Pegg) is working on something with Nick, and Simon and I are going to work on something together later this year, which will hopefully be the third in this trilogy. We’re calling it the “Blood and Ice-cream” trilogy. I am also writing two adaptations. We only really finished doing the press tour last month, so we are just getting into writing now.
JM: Do you guys switch off? Is that why Simon isn’t here?
NF: Simon is actually shooting a film right now.
EW: Actually, Simon said “I hate all geeks. I am never going to the Comic-Con ever again” and you can put that on record. (Laughs)
NF: I think he fears what he loves most.
EW: He came here three years ago and saw a Batman made out of Legos and he has never recovered.
NF: He kind of thought it would never get better than that so he never came back.
JM: There’s always a genre you pay homage to in your films. Shaun of the Dead was horror, Hot Fuzz was action. What is the next genre you guys plan on tackling?
EW: We try to come up with the story first. It isn’t like we have a list of genres and say “Yeah, cop movies really got it coming to ‘em” after eight Police Academies. I suppose we like trying to make films they don’t normally make in the UK. There used to be such a great tradition of genre films in the UK in the sixties and seventies and it just doesn’t happen anymore. We really just wanted to put our own spin on an English action film.
JM: Can you talk a little bit about Ant-Man and Them?
EW: Uh, no. Well only in that they are both being worked on at the moment. One of which I am co-writing and Them, which is not a remake of the giant ants film. Them is actually a film I have been developing with Mike White.
NF: (Interrupting) So you’re doing a film about a small ant and a big ant?
EW: (Laughing) Yes.
JM: Have you guys walked the floor yet?
EW: We did, we did. We actually got in early this time and saw most of the exhibits.
JM: Did you buy anything?
EW and NF: (Simultaneously) Uh, no.
EW: We got a few free comics, but I find it quite overwhelming being on the floor. I actually went back right after to the hotel and fell asleep in front of Black Christmas.
JM: Since they decided to separate Grindhouse, what is going to happen to your trailer “Don’t”?
EW: I think that what happened is that the trailers won’t turn up until they release a double disc of just Grindhouse. They are going to release the films separately and then there will be a Grindhouse edition. I had a blast doing that trailer. That was such fun. It was shot 5 weeks before Grindhouse came out, right in the middle of our Hot Fuzz press tour.
JM: Since Robert Rodriguez is interested in turning “Machete” into a feature, has it ever crossed your mind to do a full-length “Don’t”?
EW: It has been mentioned a couple times, but I think it depends on how well Grindhouse performs on DVD. I think what happened with Grindhouse is it really separated movie fans from moviegoers. There are the movie geeks who are there first in line and then there are moviegoers who show up to the cinema not knowing what they are going to see and try to squeeze a ninety minute Blades of Glory in before dinner instead of a three and a half hour commitment like Grindhouse. I don’t think it reflects on the quality of the film. We went to see it at Mann’s Chinese Theater, and it was one of the best film experiences I have ever had.
JM: What’s your take on Live Free or Die Hard being PG-13?
EW: I enjoyed Die Hard.
JM: We did too.
EW: Yeah but the PG-13 was the one thing that pissed me off, I felt like was watching the American Airlines version. It was clear that you could see Justin Long saying something else and saying “freaking” instead. Some of the sound effects felt quite muted as well. I hope they bring out an Unrated version, but it seems weird when comedies like Knocked Up and Superbad are R-rated, yet they won’t let Die Hard be. Especially since anyone that is under seventeen is really not going to have any idea who John McClane is, so I thought it was a shame.
JM: I heard you saw The Mist? How was that?
EW: I did. I saw the edit. Not to name drop, but me and Quentin Tarantino went to watch it on Avid at Frank Daranbot’s. Did I mention Quentin Tarantino?
NF: Pulp Fiction
EW: Yeah it was great. Frank asked us to come watch it.
NF: Frank Darabont.
EW: Frank Darabont. Director of Shawshank. Writer of Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. (Laughter) Sorry, yeah it was really good. I am a big fan of that story and it is great. I read Steven King obsessively as teenager and The Mist really stuck a cord with me. The story is really open ended and Daranbont has an amazing ending and the pay off is great. Obviously it is still unfinished, without all the effects, but the fact that it worked is great.
JM: The montages, where you have three shots in rapid succession, are those planned out, do you storyboard those?
EW: Yeah and you can see the storyboards on the DVD. You usually end up doing some of those during production, but quite a few of those you save for the end of the shoot, essentially an extra week doing close ups. In fact, there is one section when Nicholas Angel is tooling up that Simon actually did all the close-ups. I became obsessed with the fact that hand models are always shit. It is astonishing how frequently they disappoint. Frequently I would step in and be the hand, but I begged Simon to come back and be a hand for a day, which he did. So that scene when he is tooling up is all Simon.