We at StarTrek.com love any excuse to chat with Simon Pegg, who’s not only great as Scotty in the new Star Trek adventures, but is an entertaining, tell-it-like-it-is interviewee. Pegg is currently making the promotional rounds on behalf of The World’s End, his new sci-fi/comedy – out NOW and in a theater near YOU! – and he set aside some time to talk to us about The World’s End, Scotty, the fan reaction to Star Trek Into Darkness, the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray and J.J. Abrams’ decision to direct the next Star Wars movie, as well as about his upcoming film Hector and the Search for Happiness. Below is part two of our exclusive interview.
The digital version of Star Trek Into Darkness is out now and the Blu-ray and DVD editions will be out on September 10. Did you do anything for the extras?
PEGG: I think that Deep (Roy) and I are actually on there with something. You know that scene on Earth, in the bar, when Scotty is drunk and a little pissed off because he’s just resigned? That was shot in the same room in the Doheny Mansion where they shot the bowling alley scene in There Will Be Blood, where Daniel Day-Lewis bludgeons Paul Dano to death. So me and Deep, we recreated the “I’ll drink your milkshake” scene as Scotty and Keenser, with Keenser as Dano and me as Daniel Day-Lewis. I think that will probably be on there. We had great behind-the-scenes guys working on the film who were always keen to come up with things for the extras. So I think there will be some great stuff, and I can’t wait to see it.
How hard is it to reconcile the fact that Star Trek Into Darkness is the most successful Star Trek film ever with the fact that some fans just flat-out hate the film?
PEGG: I know. There was a poll at a convention that called it the worst Star Trek movie. Objectively, I think that’s not true. In terms of the storytelling and technically and the filmmaking, it’s nowhere near the bottom of the list. But everyone has an opinion and I totally accept that. Just to sort of relegate in those terms as the worst, though, that kind of pisses me off and that’s why I said “F—k you” to those people. I get it. I understand. What we did was pretty daring in that we decided to embrace a previous installment and create what was almost like a parallel film to it. I think the guys who wrote it got a real kick out of doing that. They’re massive Star Trek fans and the idea of pulling these parallels together was a bit of nerd heaven for them, I think. I do like the idea that the universe that’s now running parallel to The Original Series universe is pulling its elements back together again. I liked that about the first film, that no matter how scattered we all were, circumstance was pulling us together.
I think what some people criticized was a really nice dramatic device. It was a coincidence that Kirk landed not only on the same planet as Scotty, but near where Scotty lived. I think that’s kind of fate. It was a treatment on the idea of destiny and the fact that these people are destined to be together. That’s lovely and mythic, and I think that Star Trek Into Darkness sort of followed that idea. No matter what happened, these particular people were going to meet, and we just came across this particular character, Khan, a little earlier than before.
Actually, another criticism ties into something you mentioned earlier (in part one of this conversation), about science fiction as a metaphor. Some people felt Star Trek Into Darkness was a terrific action movie, but that it didn’t make enough use of science fiction as metaphor…
PEGG: I can see that. But it’s difficult these days to be particularly esoteric in the face of having to pull off a mainstream film. If you’re going to make a film that big maybe sometimes some of the subtler metaphoric things have to fall away. Sometimes these films do become about just smashing things up. I personally don’t think Star Trek Into Darkness is that. I think it says a lot about family and friendship and morality. I think there’s a hell of a lot going on in Star Trek Into Darkness. I think it’s daring that it asks you to sympathize with a mass murderer and to almost see us, in terms of being his adversary, with similar motivations, and how that becomes right and how that becomes wrong. Is there a right or wrong if wrong and right are entirely subjective? I think all of that is going on in Star Trek Into Darkness. To get caught up in the fact that, “Ah well, they took a precious thing from another film and they just ripped it off,” I think that’s reducing the film to something far less than what it really is. I think that’s very shortsighted and I think personally that Star Trek Into Darkness has a lot of metaphoric weight, far more, I think, than a lot of the summer films this year that were just about smashing s—t up.
What direction would you like to see things go in for third film?
PEGG: We’re on a five-year mission now and I think we’ve established ourselves as the current torchbearers of Star Trek. Thank goodness there is still Star Trek. It’d be a sad universe were it not to exist. So I’d like to see us go off now and have our first sort of solo adventure, as it were. It was fun to play with Trek history, to go back and forth with things that people know and love, but it’s a big galaxy and we’ve got some great writers and fantastic characters. There’s a reason why this story prevails nearly 50 years on, because they’re such great characters. That’s what it’s always been about. When it came out that there was going to be a new Star Trek with new actors playing the characters, people weren’t sure about it. As brilliant and fabulous as the original actors were, and they were responsible for making Star Trek what it is, it’s about the characters, not the actors. If we can possibly pull it off now and bring those characters to life again, we absolutely should, and so should a bunch of other young people when we’re too old to play them. I just feel honored to be a part of this universe. Star Trek never fails to amaze me.
What do you make of Abrams’ decision to direct Star Wars? And, at the end of the day, do you think he’ll find a way to direct the next Star Trek film as well?
PEGG: What I’d really love to do, and I don’t know if this is going to happen, is get the next Star Trek film out in time for the 50th anniversary, in 2016. I don’t think that’s going to happen with J.J. at the helm because he will be busy with Star Wars. My initial reaction? I didn’t know how to feel. I called him and said, “What does this mean? Are you going to leave us behind?” Of course, J.J. said no, because that’s not the kind of person he is. What will happen, I’d imagine, is we’ll find some amazing director who is up for and right for the job, and J.J. will produce it and put his stamp very much on it. That would be in the same way that his stamp was on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but it was Brad Bird’s film. J.J. has established a very strong identity now in terms of the new Star Trek and I think it’ll be just as good if we have someone J.J. approves of and supports come in and do it while he directs Star Wars. I do think it would be a silly thing to leave it until after Star Wars because J.J. is going to be tied up with Star Wars for a long time and he doesn’t want to rush this thing. It’s a big deal.
Your next film is Hector and the Search for Happiness. Give us a sense of the story and a feeling for your character...
PEGG: It’s a fabulous story of a psychiatrist who goes off around the world trying to discover the meaning of happiness. It’s a new kind of vibe for me. It’s a bit more serious. I’m very, very proud of that movie, and I can’t wait for it to come out.
Last question. Everyone is buzzing about the possibility of you playing Ant-Man in Edgar Wright’s film version of the comic book. Whether or not you end up in Ant-Man, what are you most enthused about in terms of Wright's plans for it?
PEGG: The thing I’m most excited for about it is the chance to watch an Edgar Wright film, which I rarely get to do because I’m usually in them. I’m going to be tied up with Mission: Impossible 5 most likely, and I’m pretty sure that Star Trek will go pretty soon after that. So, even if I wanted to be in Ant-Man, even if Edgar wanted me to be in Ant-Man, it wouldn’t happen, but I have read the script and it’s absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait to see it realized and see it in the cinema as a fan of Edgar’s.
Click HERE to read part one of our interview with Simon Pegg.
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