A Conversation with Nick Frost

“I don’t generally indulge myself in terms of looking back and thinking ‘Gee wiz you’ve done fucking great!'”

English thespian, foodie and all round nice guy Nick Frost has become a stalwart of the English cinema scene. His long time partnership with the irrepressible Simon Pegg has redefined the English cinema scene with the likes of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul while his solo work on films like Rock The Boat, Attack the Block and Snow White & The Huntsman has proven the big man can stand on his own two feet. I was lucky enough to have a moment with Mr. Frost recently to discuss reuniting with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright for the final chapter of their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End.

Fletcher: The popularity of the Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz has generated a lot of interest, both online and in traditional media, for the release of The World’s End. Are you at all surprised that the films have been received so well outside the UK?

Nick Frost: If I’m being perfectly honest I don’t think I think about it really, I just get on with it. I mean I’m really happy, I’m really happy that, you know, the studio and everyone thinks enough about the films that they want to put the money in to get up and do the press worldwide, but also we like doing press.

A lot of them don’t like it, but I think me and Edgar and Simon have always thought its part of the ‘fame’ thing, you know. Once you finish the film that’s only half the job done so to speak. You want it to be seen by as many people as possible, so you do the press…I get to go to Australia so that’s a nice thing.

F: I know that Simon and yourself are self-confessed fanboys from way back. Has being on the other side of fame diluted that at all or do still enjoy geeking out as a fanboy?

NF: Yeah, absolutely. This morning I did that thing where I said to my wife, “I’m just going to shower okay?” and then I spent the first 20 minutes of that shower just laying on the bed watching Game of Thrones season 3 – and then have a quick shower and run down, “sorry darling! You know, I was just showering!”

So, yeah, I mean, absolutely I do. And my son is now – he’s 2 years old tomorrow. I’m kind of getting to that point where I’m thinking “What do I show him?! What do I show him first?!” I was saying to my wife yesterday that I feel so jealous in a way that he has Raiders of the Lost Ark still to come, do you know what I mean?

That’s, I think, my joy in terms of geekery, is trying to figure out what I’ll show my son and in what order. And also, what he’s gonna like, you know? What stuff he’s gonna find that I’ve never found, and that’ll be interesting, too. But absolutely I’m a geek. I mean, I think me and Simon kind of worked out a long time ago that geek just means you love something very much and you don’t care who knows. There’s more to geek than, you know, sci-fi? I’m a bit of a food geek – I’ve been a cook for many years, so I think I’m a bigger food geek at this point than I am a Star Wars geek.

But that’s in me, you know? That’s the first thing I remember really, is Star Wars and playing with Star Wars toys; hanging out with my cousin making our own Banthas and Sarlaac Pits, so that’s sort of there, that never goes away.

F: So having seen and embracing all these classic films, do feel any pressure when you write and execute these films with Simon and Edgar to crack that code and harness the right elements into something that hopefully will become a classic?

NF: I don’t think that’s for us to decide really. I think what we can do, and what we do, is we just make the film that we would want make – and that we would want to watch. And in that we’ve found, fortunately, thousands of people if not hundreds of thousands of people who are just like us and who like to watch the films that we like to watch. So I think that’s the only thing we do in terms of that. We just try and stay true to things that we would want to watch.

F: Can you offer a little insight into how The World’s End came to be? What was the initial inspiration and evolution for the story?

NF: Edgar had this idea years ago for this kind of film, and me and him went away for a week to try and work on an outline. This was years ago, this was like 8, 9 years ago. And he and I ended up not doing, literally, not a jot of work. We just hired a fancy Mercedes and just drove around the West Country listening to the John Spencer Blues Explosion and getting drunk at night, so we did no work at all. I think it was at that point that I think Edgar decided that he’d never write with me because we don’t do anything.

So the idea kind of sat on for a long while. And then, I think him and Simon got together and they realized that this could be the perfect kind of third thing we do.

We’re all a lot older now than when we did Spaced and Shaun of the Dead obviously, but, I think if there’ s a theme throughout all three films it’s friendship, and how friendship has to evolve and indeed our friendships have evolved. Once you get left behind you become Gary King, you become Simon’s character.

F: Speaking of which, you play Andy Knightley this time around. As actors are you given much input into the shaping the character?

NF: Obviously this is the third thing Edgar and Simon have written for me so they kind of pretty much have my voice down, in terms of what I’d be good saying etcetera. But in terms of the character, apart from what’s on the page, it’s what the actor wants to bring to it. I think Edgar’s really keen… if you’re going to hire and employ actors like me and Simon and Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman that they, that they have a say, they have their own input.

F: Simon and yourself have established a bit of a reputation as a comedy duo. Have you ever felt a danger in typecasting yourselves a double-act? Or was the plan to conquer the world together?

NF: No, that’s just how it is. It still isn’t a plan! I think we really battle against the term doubleact. We don’t want to be labelled as that but I completely understand why people would. But we just like working together? The thing about me and Simon is that we both like doing the job we do, and that’s together or separately. When we work together there is that thing that the fact that we’ve known each other for 20 years and we really like each other so it brings something to it, you know?

We’re best mates out of work anyway, so when we’re not on set we do see each other a lot and we text each other 20 times a day. We’ve got an office together so we’re always hanging out, and planning what to do next, which will be completely different. I think that’s also what we need to do and what we’d like to do is to just try and mix things up a lot so that people don’t get bored of it, you know? It’s really important that people don’t get bored of it.

F: So The World’s End revolves around a pub-crawl known as The Golden Mile. Does The Golden Mile actually exist or is a hybrid of various experiences?

NF: Absolutely – no absolutely it exists. I think where Edgar is in Wales has its own version of the Golden Mile that Simon and I and Edgar tried to do a few – well, quite a long time ago. Edgar kind of stumbled after pub 3 or 4 and that was that, we gave up. But yeah, a lot of these small places have their own version of the golden mile because a lot of ‘em have just tonnes of pubs? Especially if you have that, and couple it with the fact that there’s a college or a university or some kind of secondary school where kids are getting to the age of 16 and 17 and 18 and they think “fuck it! Let’s try and have a pint in every pub.” But yeah – these things exist.

F: The World’s End marks the final chapter of the Cornetto triology. Was it always planned as a trilogy? Or do you think there’s more Cornettos to unwrap?

NF: Yeah well, we’re always talking about doing little bits and pieces, and Edgar’s off to do Ant Man now and that’s obviously a very large, very long commitment for Edgar so, you know, I don’t think it’s – it’s the end of this, certainly, but it’s not the end of us.

I bloody hope not, anyway. I think it’s that we’ve been friends for a long time and we like working together, and I don’t think any of us has any plan to kind of just ditch that say “fuck it, let’s not do it, I’ve had enough of these guys let’s not do it again”. I think we’re sad that this is over but it also gives us the opportunity to try to find something else now, to try and figure out something else to do.

F: You mentioned Edgar’s doing Ant Man now which is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we discussed your history as a fanboy, I’m curious in your own opinion, how you feel the state of cinema and film at the moment? Do you think it’s in a bit of trouble or do you think it’s going strong?

NF: Well I don’t know. I think that all depends who you ask. I like these films, I like them a lot, and I think they do very well in the cinema for a certain demographic, but you know, I’d hate to think that this kind of franchise-led movie would potentially rob or take finances from a smaller, gentler, more cerebral movies perhaps.

I think there is definitely a space for both out there, cause there’s definitely an audience for both and I think as long as people are watching them and enjoying them they’re still going get made and that’s…I mean it sounds like a really horrible middle of the road answer but, as long as little films are still getting made and there are people like Paddy Considine making films like Tyrannosaur and things like the Station Agent get made and little horror movies and people like Ben Wheatley are still out there making things like Sightseers and Down Terrace, I think it’s just up to the audience what they want to go and see, because there’s plenty out there.

F: And have you seen the finished cut The World’s End as yet?

NF: I have, yes, I saw it three weeks ago. I saw it on my own in a big screening room like I was some kind of Mr. Fucking Big Deal and it was pretty fantastic.

F: And compared to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz?

NF: I think it’s the best one.

F: How so? In terms of scope or performance?

NF: I think in terms of scale, and performance from everyone. It starts off as some kind of melancholic, 40 something men, coming back for some horribly sad pub crawl that none of them wants to be on. You know, it starts off like a kind of Ken Loach bittersweet drama and then becomes a fuckin’ really weird sci-fi punch up. Even though I was in the film and I’ve been there from day one with Edgar and Simon, there was still that point where I kind of thought “hang on, how the fuck did we get here?! How did we reach this point?” It’s that kind of Dusk Till Dawn thing where you think, okay, it’s a bank robbery, the bank robbery’s gone wrong, they’ve taken Harvey Keitel, they’re in a bar…when the fuck did the vampires get here?! It’s that kind of a thing.

I think, because I know Edgar so well and he’s such a fucking good director, when you finally see what he did with everything on screen its like wow, that was fucking amazing. I really love Scott Pilgrim, that was one of my favourite films and it’s one of those things where you think “wow, that was amazing, that’s what he was doing.”

F: Starting out so long ago on Spaced with Edgar and Simon, do you look back and the past 20 years and wonder how you went from a humble TV sitcom to major Hollywood players?

NF: Umm, those moments are few and far between, I don’t generally indulge myself in terms of looking back and thinking “gee wiz you’ve done fucking great”, but there was a point last night where I thought, “you’ve done alright, you know? You’ve fuckin’ done alright.”

Me and Edgar and Simon, I think are in it for the long gain. We’ve always been in it for the long gain, so this is just a point in, hopefully touchwood, a long fuckin’ career, you know? But I don’t really like to indulge myself, but I sometimes think, “yeah, you’re doing alright”, “keep going!” because it’s that thing if you recognize something – I don’t want to curse it by recognizing it. I’d rather keep my back to it and just trudge forward into the gunfire.

    J. Fletcher

    Based in Sydney, Australia. Entertainment Journalist. Critic. Photographer. Coffee Snob. Not necessarily in that order.

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