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Twelve sips from The World’s End with Edgar Wright

- August 13th, 2013

The apocalypse never felt like such a good time.

Next week, the clever minds behind the beloved ‘Cornetto trilogy’ – which includes the 2004 ‘rom-zom-com’ Shaun of the Dead and the 2007 action film send-up Hot Fuzz – unleash The World’s End in North American theatres.

The latest flick, directed by Edgar Wright and starring his chums Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, features a group of childhood friends that reunite for a legendary pub crawl in their hometown – a pub crawl that starts to get pretty weird, pretty quickly.

So, in honour of the 12 bars mentioned in the film, here are 12 World’s End tidbits that Wright shared in a recent visit to Toronto. Bottoms up!

1. The filming process exhausted Wright
“We shot it in 12 weeks. Which is, for the amount of effects and action in it, is pretty tough. I think it was a couple of days less than Hot Fuzz, in fact … I’m very happy with it, but it was probably the toughest shoot of the three (Cornetto trilogy films).”

2. Wright pondered the story idea for a while
“We had come up with the story idea on the Hot Fuzz press tour. I had written a script when I was 21 that was about teenagers on a pub crawl, much like the first five minutes of (The World’s End). And I had never done anything with it, obviously. I was thinking about it on the Hot Fuzz press tour, that I would never do anything with it. And then I thought, well, maybe there’s something more interesting in the idea of adults trying to recapture their youth.”

3. Music inspired the script’s nostalgic feeling
“When me and Simon wrote Hot Fuzz, we used to listen to action film scores all the time, to get ourselves psyched up. And we had an endless playlist of action scores. And for this (film) all we had was this playlist from 1988 to 1993, a period where I was at school, and Simon was at college. I think, for both of us, those years were like a gateway drug into more alternative music, where bands like Primal Scream and Stones Roses and Suede were actually going from the indie chart into the top ten.”

4. They designed Simon Pegg’s character to look like the frontman from Sisters of Mercy
Sisters of Mercy is the band that Simon is wearing the t-shirt of, and he’s got the tattoo. He’s sort of dressed up like Andrew Eldritch. We found out, when we cleared the t-shirt, that Andrew Eldritch, who’s the lead singer of Sisters of Mercy, was a big fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. And I saw Simon react in a way different to meeting Tom Cruise or Steven Spielberg – he was like, ‘no f—ing way!’ He was so jazzed about Andrew Eldritch, the lead singer of Sisters of Mercy, being a fan of the other two movies.”

5. They shot the scenes chronologically
“We shot in order, which was like really great for the actors … (but) we shot in like October, November, December, so by the time we got to the end, it was like we didn’t see daylight for a month. It was crazy.”

6. Wright sees his writing as therapy
“I think the thing that I’m really proud of with these movies, and this one particularly, is that I’ve started to realize that they’re like Trojan horses. You make a zombie film, a cop movie and a sci-fi movie, but you manage to smuggle in this relationship movie … I do think that a lot of the comedies that tackle similar subject matter never, ever scratch beneath the surface, and if anything glorify it, sometimes in an irresponsible way. So if you’re going to tackle issues like this, even within a comedy, I think it’s not about being dark or intentionally dark, it’s just about being honest. In a way, me and Simon writing this script, is therapeutic for us, to kind of talk about things in a film that we feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves. So that’s the thing that I’m really proud of, is to tackle some things that are thornier within a comedy genre film.”

7. Paddy Considine caused the most hijinks on set
“Strangely enough, given that he mostly does dramas, the goofiest, silliest person on the shoot was Paddy Considine, who is known mostly for doing incredibly intense dramas … He’s very, very naughty, and (he’d) be the one to try and make other people crack up. What was really nice is that Paddy actually hadn’t been on screen in a while, and he actually said the sweetest thing. He sent me a note after seeing the movie; he said – he wanted to go into directing and he had kind of given up on acting – he said, ‘doing this film made me want to be an actor again.’ Which is the sweetest thing.”

8. Nick Frost brought a choreographic advantage to the fight scenes
“Nick had just done a dance film (Cuban Fury), which comes out next year. He had done this salsa comedy, where he trained doing salsa dancing for like, seven months. And he only had a week off between films. So (learning fight steps) is like learning how to dance. He was amazing.”

9. Wright found childhood inspiration for the blue residue left by the villains
“When I was a kid, when I was at school, I used to draw a lot and write a lot with a fountain pen, and so at the end of every school day I’d have inky hands. I’d have blue all over my hands. And then I’d usually get it over my face and my tongue and stuff.”

10. The pub names provide hints to the plot
“The idea was to make them all feel like tarot cards. They all say something about the scenes. They’re like chapter headings.”

11. They borrowed the pub names from real establishments
“These are all names of real bars. Including The Famous Cock, which is around the corner from my house. And I thought that was a pretty common place name, until I found out it was the only one in the whole of Britain. And at that point, we had to get clearance from them … The funny thing is No. 10, which is called The King’s Head (in the movie), is really called The Arena Tavern, and they are changing their name to The King’s Head, to match the film. And they’re keeping that sign, which is hilarious.”

12. The real World’s End pub holds some sentimental meaning
“The World’s End is actually a real bar where Simon and I used to meet. Simon had his first date with his wife in there, which he likes to say is where his world ended (laughs). Nick fell off the wagon after three years of not drinking at The World’s End, and me and Simon used to meet at The World’s End before going to the cinema, and it always used to strike me as a funny thing to say: ‘I’ll see you at The World’s End,’ (or) ‘I’ll meet you in The World’s End, after’. And the last time we’d been there, strangely, is the weekend that Shaun of the Dead opened, when we snuck into a late-night screening. But we met at The World’s End before.”

Director of The Colony wanted to honour Aliens and The Thing

- April 25th, 2013

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You weren’t the only one freaked out by Aliens and The Thing, obviously. Both sci-fi favourites have inspired legions of creepy tributes in the past few decades. And this weekend, Seattle-born director Jeff Renfroe delivers his own take on the genre, with the post-apocalyptic thriller The Colony.

“These are the movies I grew up on,” he says. “(The Colony) was a chance for me to make something that’s been with me for many years.”

Renfroe’s film, which stars Laurence Fishburne and Aliens alumnus Bill Paxton, centres on a group of scrappy humans who are forced to live underground after a brutal ice age engulfs the earth. While the movie includes a requisite amount of scares – guess what happens when some of our survivors head out to investigate a distress call from a neighbouring colony? – it also flirts with messages about climate change, consumption and sustainability.

“I love when a genre movie can work with some themes underneath it,” he says, and then gives shout-outs to more contemporary sci-fi films like 28 Days Later and District 9.

Renfroe, who edited the stellar music documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, also directed the films One Point Zero and Civic Duty, and has worked on videos for a number of Canadian musicians – including David Usher, Junkhouse and The Headstones. He’s also credited as a co-writer on The Colony.

To get the right feel for his latest sci-fi flick, Renfroe shot scenes 60 storeys underground, in a decommissioned NORAD storage facility in North Bay, Ont. The nuclear bunker opened in 1963, and housed 700 workers during the peak of the cold war.

“When we found that place, I was like a kid in a candy store, man,” says Renfroe. “It was like, okay, this is purpose-built for our movie, this survival bunker. It was really creepy being down there, and I could tell it was just dripping with atmosphere.”

The subterranean filming location killed any kind of mobile reception for the cast – no texting, no e-mail, no Facebook. Renfroe admits that his claustrophobia initially made him hesitant about travelling so far underground, but the vastness of the bunker surprised him.

“Once you’re in the facility down there, you kinda forget that you’re underground,” he says. “But you feel it. It’s a weird kind of pressure that you feel. And maybe it’s a lack of clean air or something, but yeah, it definitely affects you.”

Top photo: Jeff Renfroe on the set of The Colony with Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Zegers (courtesy of eOne).
Bottom photo: Jeff Renfroe at the world premiere of The Colony in Toronto in early April (taken by Sean Fitzgerald).

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Fishburne hasn’t signed up for a Man of Steel sequel – yet

- April 4th, 2013

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You shouldn’t call Perry White “chief”, and it’s probably not the best idea to ask him about sequels, either. At least not at this point.

Laurence Fishburne will be playing Clark Kent’s boss – and the Daily Planet’s editor-in-chief – in the upcoming Superman reboot, Man of Steel. With the Internet whispering about a follow-up to the highly-anticipated superhero flick, has Warner Brothers already signed Fishburne up for a sequel?

“No, not yet, not yet, not yet,” he says, speaking to QMI Agency in Toronto, at the world premiere for his post-apocalyptic thriller The Colony. “I mean, we have to see how the film’s gonna do, right?”

Fishburne becomes the first African-American actor to portray the role in a live-action version of the Superman story. Jackie Cooper played the newspaperman in the Christopher Reeve films of the 1970s and ’80s.

Despite screenwriter David S. Goyer’s endorsement of Fishburne – Goyer calls his casting an “awesome choice” in a recent interview – the actor plays down his interpretation of White in the movie.

“It’s a much bigger canvas than that,” he says, implying that viewers should be focusing on Henry Cavill’s performance as Superman. “My particular colour on the canvas is minimal. It’s really an origin story, Man of Steel … the focus is his origins.”

The film, directed by Zack Snyder, hits theatres on June 14.

See the video of Fishburne’s chat on the red carpet here.

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(Above photo, featuring Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, courtesy of Warner Brothers. Below photo, showing Fishburne on The Colony’s red carpet, by Sean Fitzgerald