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Simon Pegg interview, part two

What happens when two geeks get together? They talk about geeks and superheroes and how they are very much the same as Brett Michel and Simon Pegg demonstrate in this second part of the interview.

BM.Moving on, superhero films – I’d imagine you’ve been keeping up with them?

SP: Yeah. It’s interesting, actually. There’s been a parallel – this is something that I’d like to write about – the evolution of the hero from the kind of superman from the 80s; the bodybuilder there, and the 90s; the Van Damme, the Schwarzeneggar – to a degree that that hero has been – and this is after John McClane – the hero has become more and more ordinary, more geeky, so that you have Seth Rogen as a leading man, and, you know, Steve Carell. People who are just kind of regular guys have become like the heroes of film. “Superbad” is a great example: two geeky guys. But then, running parallel to this, you have also the rise to prevalence of superhero. But it’s interesting that all these superheroes are, to a degree, geeks. You know? Tony Stark, Peter Parker, even Bruce Wayne. Even Clark Kent. I mean, he is a geek. They’re all kind of…it’s brilliant. There’s definitely a sensation in there somewhere about how we are perceiving the male…

BM So, “Ant Man?”

SP: I mean, Edgar [Wright, Pegg’s collaborator and director of “Shaun” and “Hot Fuzz,” who is planning to bring the somewhat obscure Marvel superhero to  the screen]just chose that. I’ve got nothing to do with “Ant Man,” but…

BM. Really?

SP: That’s Edgar’s project. He’s developed that with Joe Cornish. But, I would hope for a cameo.

BM: Back when you spoke of ant man when you were in Cambridge with “Hot Fuzz”, I got the impression that you would be playing Ant Man.

SP: Well, we were kind of joking there…I’m too old to play Ant Man, I think. Edgar needs to get, he needs to get Hank Pym. He needs a young guy. I would hope to play something in the movie, just to keep an ‘in’ with my boss, but Edgar – and this is Edgar down to a ‘T’ – is that he specifically picked a lower-level Marvel character, a sort of…a less than popular Marvel character [laughs] and I have no doubt that he will make it better than any previous Marvel film, because he is that good at what he does. But, yeah, he’s one of the kind of lower-tier heroes. I’m sure the film will be about that: the ‘small man’ complex.

BM: It didn’t quite work out in “The Incredible Hulk.”

SP: I didn’t mind…I kind of enjoyed that movie, but I’m a big Ang Lee sympathizer. I like that “Hulk.” I thought that the Hulk himself in it was brilliant – the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to the comic book – a big, dumb, thick, scared-looking anger machine.

BM: I appreciated the climax of that film on an intellectual level, but good god, there was no way to make that work onscreen.

SP: No. That’s where it fell down. But that sequence in the desert is better than anything that was in the new Hulk film. The whole thing with how he gets around, jumping about? That’s what he used to do in the comics, just jump around! [laughs]

BM: I would love to see the motion capture footage of Ang Lee acting out the Hulk’s performance on that film.

SP: Yeah, yeah! I just remember his face, you know, his eyes fill with tears like that. It kind of did justice. It was brilliant.

BM: Have you been following the Democratic Convention at all?

SP: I’m behind Barack, absolutely. Just because, I think it would be just this fabulous, poetic thing for him to become the President. I think, for this country, it would be monumental.

BM: Sidney Young, your character in your new film, is based on Toby Young, who I see is now working as an associate editor for the rather conservative weekly, the “Spectator.” Seems like a strange position for him.

SP: Well, the thing is with Toby – well, Party politics in the UK are slightly different now, anyway. I mean, it is similar to this country, in that the parties sort of jostle for position, so much where they’ve kind of ended up at a middle ground. But Toby’s quite, he’s pretty middle class. He’s not exactly a working class hero. He has enough disregard for what people think of him to avidly support the conservatives. [laughs] We had a mayoral race recently in London, and our mayor was Labor affiliated. He was very much a left-wing man. He had done a lot of fuck-ups. Some of the transport issues were just bad, and it felt like it was time to change things, but his opposition was a conservative man. And even though I was pissed off, I still couldn’t bring myself to vote that side of the line. It just felt wrong. I hope Obama gets it, I really do. Just the beauty of him as a black man. If he does get in, it’s taken 200 years from enslavement to him being the leader of the country. Which, when you think about it, is fucking ages! It is a long, long time. It’s taken 200 years for a black man to be the President of the United States. That’s too fucking long! But, it will be brilliant, if it happens.

[a knock comes on the door; the publicist briefly enters, saying she’s sorry, but that we’ll need to wrap things up.]

SP: Oh, come on! We’re talking about politics here! [laughs]

BM: And we haven’t really spoken about the film!

SP: Ah, it’s really good! It’s out on October the 3rd and it’s got Megan Fox and Kirsten Dunst in it.

BM: One last question, then! Toby’s attraction to American celebrity culture, which was followed by his eventual disillusionment of its vanity and superficiality – have you experienced this yourself?

SP: I distrust that world so much, anyone who takes it on…

BM: Well, your fan base seems to be rooted in the ‘fanboy’ culture.

SP: Yeah. I’d really like to keep it that way. I’d just like to stay there, because I think they’re in it for the right reasons. Their enthusiasm is entirely honest, and not fickle, and I think, if…to keep working towards pleasing people like that would be great, because you never want to let them down, you never want to short-change them. You would continue to do the best work that you possibly could. But, the larger world is a fickle kind of…

BM: Are you interested in getting the sort of  “Entertainment Weekly” level of attention?

SP: No, I don’t know. I can’t…It just seems to me like a sort of a necessary…I mean, obviously, “Entertainment Weekly” is a cool magazine. The idea of being on the cover, you think “Wow, I’ve achieved something.” But at the same time, you’re entering into an arena which is entirely unpredictable and, you know, hard to manage. And, for me, I always look at it as being like “fame,” for want of a better word, or the attention that it brings you when you do a job like this. It’s the equivalent of what radiation is to people who work in a nuclear power plant. It’s a hazard of the job, in a way. It’s not altogether necessarily a good thing. There are no perks with radiation, obviously. You don’t get to go to parties and things.

BM: But what about the radiation you might be exposed to from “Aint It Cool News?”

SP: Well, you get radiation that turns you into a superhero. That kind of radiation. But, otherwise, I find it daunting and scary.

 

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