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Reaching “The World’s End” One Pint At A Time

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

There’s something about the recent release of “The World’s End” that is bothering Simon Pegg. As reluctant adult Gary King, Pegg had to engage in some rather physical acting. Looking back, he wishes he could make one change.

“I broke my hand,” said Pegg. “What I would do differently is I wouldn’t have broken my hand.”

In ”The World’s End,” Gary King reunites with five estranged college buddies on one last visit to “The Golden Mile,” a stretch of London street that houses twelve pubs. Downing a pint at each pub and reconnecting with each other, they find they haven’t changed all that much, however the world around them has evolved into a frightening new environment where they must fight to stay alive. Wright came up with the bones of the script in his early twenties. He stored it away until sharing the idea with Pegg in 2007. The duo tossed some thoughts around but shelved the project in exchange for other opportunities; Pegg worked on tent poles such as “Star Trek“ and “Mission Impossible,” while Wright wrote and directed “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

” “In 2011 we got together and went away for a weekend to focus on the story. By that time we had been through a lot, I’d turned 40, and we’d grown up a bit,” said Pegg. “I’m glad we waited, we were better equipped to write it.”

The film became the third installment in the duo’s trilogy, following “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” Reoccurring themes such as friendship, life in the UK, growing up and lampooning genres firmly connect the three features. In “The World’s End,” a group of men each experiencing their own brand of mid-life crisis discover the town they thought would never change has been conquered by a race of alien “robots.” As the men drink their way towards The World’s End, things get very physical in this sci-fi parody.

In addition to reuniting with actor Nick Frost who’s been a main character in each installment, Pegg and Wright also reteamed with department heads they’d worked with on previous projects. They insisted “The World’s End” be produced by longtime collaborator Nira Park and her company Big Talk Pictures. Jane Walker returned as hair and makeup artist, and Marcus Rowland returned as production designer. Rowland worked closely with Pegg and Wright to define a look that both gave the film its own identity while merging it into the trilogy.

“Marcus is great. He’s been our production designer since ‘Spaced.’ We have ideas that we know he will take forward,” said Pegg. “There are certain color choices in the palette that we discussed with the art team. We give it to the people we trust and know will get it. We give approval on everything, but generally speaking it is a very collaborative effort.”

Many of Rowland’s sets were designed to be destroyed during stunt scenes then meticulously rebuilt after the take for a new camera angle of the stunt scene the following day. Stunt coordinator Brad Allen, who previously worked with Wright on “Scot Pilgrim vs. the World,” used a combat philosophy were, after each pub, the fighting scenes escalated along with the character’s alcohol-induced sense of masculinity. While stuntmen and women performed the most challenging acts, the actors were primarily engaged in their own stunts – resulting in some minor injuries including Pegg’s broken hand.

To help maintain a steady pace for the actors and continuity during the action sequences, editor Paul Machliss cut the scenes on set. A frequent collaborator on Wright’s projects, Machliss was able to turn around scenes within hours to hone the action sequences, keep the actors on target and maintaining the film’s shooting schedule.

Cinematographer Bill Pope, another Wright alum, worked diligently with the team to maintain a certain visual aesthetic that would connect the trilogy of films. He brought a foreigner’s eye to the English pubs and was able to outline beautifully detailed shot that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. He was also crucial in helping ensure the film was shot on 35mm.

“We had to fight to shoot ‘The World’s End’ in 35mm,” said Pegg. “It was actually quite difficult because it’s cheaper and faster to shoot on digital. But, it was important for us that the quality of the film itself remains cohesive with the other two films. We didn’t want an audience watching them down the line to see a different film grade and recognize it as something that didn’t belong.”

While frequent commitments to other projects have made it harder for the team to collaborate often, Pegg feels the assorted experiences they have had on other features or blockbusters have made their work tighter. Every element of the script for “The World’s End” was finessed and all aspects of the comedy were locked down after rehearsals. They were able to maximize shooting on location through careful camera logs and had the ability through pre-production and extensive planning to stay on schedule and within budget.

“We came to ‘The World’s End’ thinking with the same sort of strict adherence to detail it should be technically as good or better than the others,” said Pegg. “I think technically and structurally it is the better film. For me, it is the most heartfelt of the three, and because we are better as actors and screenwriters, it is the better of the three.”

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