Baby Driver BTS - Edgar Wright and Ansel Elgort

Few filmmakers have a track record like Edgar Wright. His “Cornetto Trilogy” of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End are easily some of the most rewatchable and expertly crafted comedies of all time. Spaced is a near-perfect TV show. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has rightfully become a beloved movie in the years since its theatrical release. His work is clearly influenced by masters of their respective genres, yet each film stands completely on its own, the result of a movie geek who understands visual storytelling on a level that few others ever will.

If you think that sounds a little hyperbolic, you’re wrong. There are too few directors working right now that actually know how to make a genuinely funny and satisfying comedy without letting their actors riff on each other for hours while the camera stands still.

Wright’s long-gestating Baby Driver hits this week, so we decided to take a look back at his career and explore some trivia about his work and career that you might not know.

A FIstful of Fingers

Shaun of the Dead Wasn’t His First Film

It’s a little frustrating to see Shaun constantly referred to as Edgar Wright’s first film. It was his first major film, sure, but let’s not forget that he had a feature film out nearly a decade earlier. True to form, it lambasted another beloved genre, which you can guess immediately from the title. A Firstful of Fingers was a Western spoof that the 21-year-old Wright took to Cannes to sell before premiering it at the Prince Charles Cinema in 1995. It was never released in the United States, although 20 years after the fact, it got a midnight run at the Cinefamily in Los Angeles.

The reaction to the film was well, “decidedly mixed” would be the nice way to put it. Wright has come to love it for what it is, though.

“If I’ve done an interview and people say, ‘Your debut, Shaun Of The Dead…’, I never correct them,” Wright told Empire. “I still can’t watch it: it’s absolutely cringe-worthy, like reading a diary you wrote when you were 19. But slowly I’ve become weirdly proud of it. I now look back at it with a lot of fondness, and the nicest thing is that I got to make a feature film with my friends from school.”

Cornetto Trilogy

The Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy Was a Joke

The whole reason Wright constructed his trilogy of unrelated comedies was because of a joke. After realizing that Hot Fuzz once again featured the ice cream cone brand that appeared Shaun of the Dead, a witty interviewer asked Wright if this was his theme of an eventual trilogy. Wright immediately quipped “Yes, it’s like Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy. This is the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy.”

That was all it took – one joke to be written down and then repeated around the internet. People starting asking about it nonstop and Wright and Co. realized that they actually had to follow through on the damn thing and deliver the final installment.

Red strawberry Cornetto was represented by Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz got brain freeze thanks to the original blue flavor, and The World’s End went for green mint. The world has never been the same.

Wright and Pegg Had Never Written a Film Before Shaun

While they had worked together on TV shows like Spaced, Wright and Pegg had never written a script together before working on Shaun of the Dead. Imagine your first film being so tightly scripted!
To show how unprepared they were for the job, they relied heavily on Syd Field’s The Definitive Guide to Screenwriting and matched the events of the film to his act chart.

“We were just curious to see if those rules did apply, and they did. And really good, well-structured movies that genuinely satisfy you – Raiders, those kinds of films that just leave you thinking, ‘Oh, that was great’ – tend to have a development which is fairly uniform… We basically discovered that we weren’t going to write three consecutive sitcom episodes – we had to write a different kind of animal.”

He Appears as a Zombie in Land of the Dead

It’s hard to imagine how exciting it must have been for Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg to hear that Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead director George A. Romero absolutely loved Shaun of the Dead, thinking it one of the best zombie movies of all time. The guy only created the genre, after all.

He was so impressed with them that he made sure that they could make a cameo appearance in his fourth zombie opus, Land of the Dead. You can find them as a duo of chain-clad zombies, moaning away and upset at their roles in a zombie photo booth.

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz Was Shot in His Hometown

If the town in Hot Fuzz looks like it’s more lovingly captured than most of the locations in Wright’s films, that may be because it’s the actual place he grew up – Wells, Somerset. Since it’s technically a city and not the village the film required, he had to digitally erase the Wells Cathedral from any shots, lest the 500-year-old medieval church throw off any nitpickers.

Wright even worked at the actual supermarket from the film, with his boss at the time inspiring the over-the-top character of Simon Skinner.

What’s more: returning to the film inspired him to re-think his long planned pub crawl film, which eventually became The World’s End.

His Mom Helped Craft Hot Fuzz

Edgar Wright has stated that his mom was a big conspiracy theorist that used to come out with insane stories from his hometown, involving everything from corruption and gangsters to aliens. He pushed back against this, as any child does against his parents, but eventually he realized she was a treature trove of information.

“When I was writing Hot Fuzz, I said to my mother, “I want you to write down all the stories that you heard about our town and give it to me.” [The result] A fifty page document called ‘Spooky Doings’”. I think she was so happy that I’d embraced the conspiracy theorist in her.”

She shows up alongside Simon Pegg’s mom as the village-of-the-year judges at the end of the film.

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