The Gang's All Here

The five men and one woman at the center of THE WORLD'S END harmonize on set to create six fascinating characters and one excellent ensemble.

Faithful viewers of the team's projects will particularly appreciate that the new movie affords Nick Frost "the challenge of playing a more complex character," as Simon Pegg quantifies the role of Andy. "We've written a different on-screen rapport between Nick and I in this one; Andy is not a devoted hanger-on and is in fact Gary's toughest critic, with a lot of anger. Andy has gone away from Newton Haven because it represents disappointment and the past."

Edgar Wright says, "Nick is kind of playing against type in this movie, which worked out great. He's particularly fierce as a straight man to Simon in THE WORLD'S END. We liked switching it up between them from what was in our previous films."

Frost reveals, "I saw the first draft when everyone else saw it, and jumped in with a little input from that point. I added a little frosting - or, Frost-ing - and sprinkles to my character.

"Andy is married, a family man, and a successful partner in a corporate law firm. He's not happy that Gary imagines picking up where he and Andy left off. Yet it's that being let down by Gary years ago has informed Andy's adult life, and now he's going to have to go to Newton Haven and get into it."

Producer Eric Fellner muses, "This time, their characters are on separate planes - a ways from coming together. The appeal of Nick and Simon as an on-screen team is that you want to hang out with them, you want to be in the pub with them. Some people might even want to sleep with them; while that's not on my list of to-do things, they are charismatic.

"Off-screen, they're always a pleasure to be around, and incredibly professional to work with - which, for a producer, is a great pleasure."

Producer Nira Park reflects, "There's been a proper bromance going on since before [the pre-movies television series] Spaced. Simon and Nick bring out the best in each other. I remember, at the read-through for SHAUN OF THE DEAD, seeing Tim and Eric looking at each other: 'Yeah, this is going to work.'"

Wright notes, "On Spaced, Simon and Nick came to me fully formed as a partnership. They can finish each other's sentences. They have an innate chemistry."

"In our own lives," comments Frost, "Simon's and my friendship is probably as strong as it's ever been. Ours has evolved; the characters' in THE WORLD'S END has not."

The added number of roles for acting contemporaries of Pegg's and Frost's further enhanced the writing and filmmaker processes. Frost says, "I had to up my game - I didn't want to get lost in the cast."

Park adds, "For the rest of the cast, Simon and Edgar knew who they wanted. They wrote the characters in those actors' voices."

Pegg confirms, "We had these actors in mind, to the point where we'd often write 'Eddie Marsan' instead of 'Pete.' We wanted to get these actors who were at the top of their game.

"What we also got were 40-year-old men who could be incredibly immature."

Marsan reveals, "Martin Freeman has an encyclopaedic mind, especially for music, so he would set up quiz games for us to compete in.

"We all mucked about; we were getting paid to go to work in pubs. Nick Frost was the joker of the pack."

Wright remembers, "They could get very silly at times. Order had to be kept!"

While not quite life imitating art, the on-set camaraderie was a natural extension of the carefully scripted interactions. Paddy Considine, cast as Steven, offers, "These characters are people who haven't grown as much as they think they have. Any viewer will be able to hook into that. What's funny, and what's also believable, is that the shared group dynamic takes hold and they resort to teenaged instincts again.

"My character, Steven, wanted to be the group's leader but never quite was because his fellow 'rock star in training' Gary always overshadowed him. Even though Steven has tried to put some distance between who he was at 18 years old and who he is now, that old feeling kicks in and his resentment comes through."

Wright praises Considine as being able to "play the sensitive puppy, and yet also throw a punch - Paddy is great in the action scenes."

Considine and Freeman had worked with the team before, while Marsan was on everyone's radar because of his performances in a variety of films. Pegg remarks, "Having seen his dramatic skills, we figured that Eddie would have the chops to do a comedy like this. He brings a wonderful sweetness to Peter."

Wright adds, "I'd met Eddie on a couple of occasions, so I knew he could be funny. While writing the part for him, I also thought of his character in Vera Drake, where Eddie also played a loyal nice guy."

Marsan sees THE WORLD'S END as "really a film about midlife crisis, trying to rediscover yourself. These guys are going through that - as we all do - and their being put in extraordinary and extreme circumstances is where the comedy comes from. Peter was the wallflower of the group; over the course of the story Peter has to find his courage and self-esteem, because he still feels as insecure as he did when he was teenaged.

"There's a craft and a dexterity that's required of actors when you do something this clever and funny, plus a kind of choreography with regard to the timing. I wanted to work with people who are very good at the discipline of all that, and learn from them. Nick and Simon and Edgar work so well together."

He adds, "If we were younger, it would be competitive among the actors because we'd all want to be the next big thing. But now we've got spouses and kids, and we're all earning a living so we can be supportive of each other; we enjoy being around each other and feel confident in what we're doing."

Considine, who directed Marsan to acclaim in Tyrannosaur, confides, "I was out of love with acting for a while, but working on THE WORLD'S END, it's really come back well for me. Edgar is such an assured director, and when you're working with generous people, you can keep learning. There were different energies all around me on this movie - like Simon going off the leash."

"Gary is a brilliant character for Simon to play, a whirlwind of enthusiasm and denial," states Freeman. "When he and Edgar told me who else was on their wish list to play the friends, I was keen to join up with them again to play Oliver."

Wright reports, "The part was written for Martin, but it's somewhat an amalgam of friends of mine - who I'm still friends with."

Freeman reflects, "I liked what the script had to say about friendship: losing it and then trying to regain it.

"Of the five friends, Oliver is the most detached. He always has been, and had pretensions and Wall Street ambitions even back when they were in school - he had a mobile phone before anybody else and now wears the Bluetooth with no irony. Not very me, so there was acting required."

Acting was indeed required, notes Rosamund Pike, for the many drinking scenes. She reveals, "What our merry band is drinking throughout the film was non-alcoholic; it was an interesting concoction which I believe was cream soda-based, with perhaps a hint of lemonade."

Working Title invited Pike to participate in a read-through of the screenplay and perform the part of Oliver's younger sister Sam - whose mere existence back in school days was enough to shore up Oliver's place in the group. In turn, Pike's performance in the reading was enough to shore up her place in the cast. Pegg remembers, "Afterwards, it was like, 'We knew she was good but she's really good.' She went off to have a baby since we didn't actually start shooting until eight months later, at which point she surprised us all with her fighting skills."

Pike notes, "I knew I had to be ready for all the face-grabbing, hair-pulling, and face-pushing. The fights and the stunts work on extra levels, which is cool. These were more fun than even the ones I've done with swords in other movies, because these combine the very very violent and the very very funny.

"Having enjoyed their other movies, I could see what Edgar was going to do as director - with a perfect partner in [cinematographer] Bill Pope - and this new script had me laughing from the word go. We can all imagine reuniting with people we haven't seen since school, including the one guy who hasn't moved on. If you can't identify that person, it's probably you; maybe that's what people say about me..."

Wright reveals, "Ros asked me, 'Who's my character based on?' and I told Ros that Sam was actually based on an old girlfriend. Ros asked if we were still in touch; even though we dated about 21 years ago, she was still a friend. And so, Ros went to meet her for a meal in her hometown and apparently they had a whale of a time. I don't know what they talked about and I'm not sure I want to know, but Ros came back and told me, 'Yeah, I got it.' Ros' character comes off very well, so I hope my ex will be happy.

"Ros is super-'method.' She drank a whole prop pint. She threw herself into the action scenes, asking 'Why can't I do that shot?' rather than have the stuntwoman come in."

Pike notes, "I hadn't done a movie with any of this group before, but everyone was inclusive; people weren't disappearing back to trailers or dressing rooms."

Frost reflects, "Often we would sit around and look at Rosamund's peachy alabaster skin, which is faultless. Then we would sing to her."

Pegg adds, "She walked into this very male environment, and was completely and utterly at home. With actors that Edgar doesn't know from previous shoots, he takes a little more time to make them feel more at ease."