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Interview with Edgar Wright, co-writer/director of Hot Fuzz

Edgar Wright co-writes and directs Hot Fuzz about Nicholas (Simon Pegg), a big-city cop who gets transferred to work as a cop in small, supposedly crime-free town and pairs up with Danny (Nick Frost) to investigate a series of accidents that may have been intentional. Hilarity ensues. Edgar Wright has previously co-written and directed the hilarious "romzomcom" (Romantic Zombie Comedy) Shaun of the Dead. I had the privilege to interview him.

Rogue Pictures will release Hot Fuzz on April 20th, 2007.

NYCMOVIEGURU: When did you know you wanted to become a director?

EW: When I was a teenager, I went through the process of wanting to be different things like wanting to be a comic book artist or an animator. I did want to be an actor at some point. What made me want to be a director was when I saw a documentary on British TV about the making of Evil Dead and how Sam Raimi got his start. It never occurred to me than an 18-year-old could make a film and could have a career. So, that really inspired me to get into films.

NYCMOVIEGURU: Have you ever acted before?

EW: I have done cameos before and I have acted in things. I’ve actually did my friend’s comedy show called “Look Around You”, but they kind of cast me as a non-actor. I am in Hot Fuzz very briefly. Me and Garth Jennings, who did Son of Rambow and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we have a joke where we cameo in each other’s films. It’s becoming sort of a superstition thing now because he was in Shaun of the Dead playing a zombie and then he put me in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so I put him in Hot Fuzz playing a crack addict.

NYCMOVIEGURU: What kind of research did you do for Hot Fuzz?

EW: A lot of what happens in the first half of Hot Fuzz is based on truth and anecdotes that we had. We researched with the police both in London and in the country. So, there’s a lot of stuff that’s in there that’s quite accurate. Even crazy things, like an escaped swan, actually happened in Whales.

NYCMOVIEGURU: What were the reactions to Hot Fuzz’s test screenings?

EW: We test-screened the film in London and in Long Island and it was funny because they laughed in exactly the same places. In fact, the two old ladies [in the audience] liked it. One of the reasons I think that this film is going to be bigger than Shaun of the Dead is because older people like it.

NYCMOVIEGURU: Did the actors have to rehearse?

EW: You’d be surprised how many films don’t have rehearsals, but, even with that large cast, we had rehearsals for everybody, with a couple of exceptions.

NYCMOVIEGURU: What was it like co-writing the script with Simon [Pegg]?

EW: If you’re co-writing with somebody and you don’t have a disagreement, then something’s wrong because that’s sort of like complacency. Per film, we, maybe have one [big argument]. At some point, we’d get very impassioned about something and we’ll be annoyed with each other for five minutes and then make some coffee and forget about it.

NYCMOVIEGURU: Were there any movie references that didn’t make it to the final cut?

EW: Not really. In a weird way, there’s probably less specific references than you would think. The most specific ones are the ones that we actually do the cliffnotes and show Action Film 101 with Bad Boys and Point Break. The rest of it is just a total genre immersion. When we were writing, we watched 138 films.

NYCMOVIEGURU: What was it like filming in your hometown?

EW: It was kind of frustrating for me, in a way, because the only downside is when I’m working, I’m just totally and utterly focused, so I couldn’t enjoy being there with the cast and the crew. I’m in my hometown and all of the cast and the crew are all going to the restaurants and pubs that I grew up in. They were all in there and having a good time, expect me because I was just focused on work. The locals were 95% really supportive. They’ve never seen anything like those scenes with the big ‘ol shoot-outs. It was really nice seeing [my] old teachers. In fact, my old drama teacher from school is in the film along with my mom and Simon [Pegg’s] mom.

NYCMOVIEGURU: Is it true that you don’t let others watch the dailies?

EW: Not so much now. When I first started [directing], I didn’t like that at all just because the way that I shoot is, kind of, a little jigsaw. I didn’t want to be questioned all the time. I worked so hard on the set, that I don’t really have time to explain things to people why we’re doing what we’re doing.

NYCMOVIEGURU: What’s your favorite film?

EW: My favorite film of all-time is Raising Arizona. The reason why I love the Coen brothers is that they’re the first directors to make comedies that were really stylish. Not only are the writing and the performances funny, but the camera shots are [also] funny. In Raising Arizona, the comedy is infused through every part of the production. It’s a really influential film.

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