Simon Pegg co-wrote and starred in the cult Britcom Spaced and the brilliant genre pastiches Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Since then, he's worked on expanding his fan base with broader comedies like Run, Fatboy, Run and the new How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, which finds him playing a boorish journalist opposite Jeff Bridges, Kirsten Dunst and Megan Fox. Pegg stopped into Toronto late last summer to chat up the movie - and discuss his participation in a certain looming blockbuster.
How does How To Lose Friends line up with your previous work?
It's more goofy, I suppose. It's certainly a departure from Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead. In those two films, I'm kind of a straight centre, in a way. I'm the conduit through which the audience goes. But with this, I got to be silly and fall off a bush and stuff.
The movie takes place in Manhattan, but most of it was shot in London. Was that difficult to pull off?
I think the industry is at a stage where things are being made all over the place. I shot a film in the Isle of Man that's supposed to be set in Oregon. It's interesting, I kind of didn't want them to put the UK Film Council and National Lottery logos at the beginning of the film because you want people to be lost in it and suspend their disbelief and not think, "Hey, what do you mean, UK? It's set in New York!" It was shot partly in the UK, and it's entirely convincing because all the necessary exterior-America stuff is in there.
Next you're playing Scotty in J.J. Abrams's new Star Trek movie. Are you prohibited from discussing the film?
I can't say anything about the plot, that's the problem.
No problem at all - we'll talk about the character. How did you, as an actor, step into a part so thoroughly identified with James Doohan?
With trepidation. When I got the call from J.J., which was an e-mail that said, "Do you want to play Scotty?", I blinked at it and showed it to my wife, Maureen, who's Scottish, and she burst out laughing. I sat on it for three days and agonized over it. Not because I didn't want to do it, but because it was such a huge thing to take on. When I discussed it with J.J., he said, "Look, the worst thing that can happen is that every three years we get to have fun." And I thought, okay.
Was it discouraging to see Trekkies react so strongly to the news of your casting?
I tried not to be offended by the people who were less than keen. I'm coming from a comedy background, this is a sacred text, and I wouldn't want anyone to think I was just gonna barge in. If I'd heard that Will Ferrell was playing Kirk, I'd be absolutely furious. But for the fans out there, don't get angry about it before you've seen it, because it's being made by someone who is utterly devoted to it and wants to make the kind of film that gives you goosebumps. It's completely true to the original.
On his screen relationship with Jeff Bridges in "How to Lose Friends ...":
On "Star Trek" and spoiler culture:
On his next film with Edgar Wright: