Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Germain Lussier
In part one of my interview with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, we talked about how The World’s End began. In part two, we’re going to talk about how it ends.
Hopefully, lots of you caught part three of the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy this past weekend. If you did, you might have walked out of the theater exhilarated, but filled with questions about some huge decisions the filmmakers made in the film’s final moments.
Well now, you can read – in their own words – why they made the decisions they did, how it all came about and what it means to them. Suffice to say, if you haven’t seen The World’s End, click “Bookmark” at the top of your browser and come back because there are major spoilers coming. If you have seen the film, let’s boo boo.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.
/Film: Let’s talk a little bit about the ending. When did you come up with the idea of the apocalypse and then the other twist, which is Gary becoming this Ash like character?
Edgar Wright: I think it’s basically set up in the movie. He calls himself “King Gary,” like his name is Gary King and his nickname for himself that he coined himself is “King Gary.”
Simon Pegg: He’s “The King.”
Wright: Yeah, so I think the whole idea is you’ve got this character at the start of the movie who thinks of himself as a legend, but he’s a legend in his own lunch time. He lets them think he’s this mythic figure, which he isn’t. By the end of the film he’s become that mythic figure. So he’s actually getting to play out his teen fantasies at the end of the movie.
So the answer to that is the end image, of him being with his young friends. That was always the idea. At the start of the movie he wants to get the band back together and he wants to be the leader of the pack again, but when he actually does that, he realizes even though he won’t admit it, that his friends are not the same friends anymore. So he can’t have what he wants and this leads him to this further desperate measures in a way. So at the end it’s a happy ending in that he gets to be with his rebel friends for ever.
Pegg: We also wanted to come good on the title. We didn’t want to make the film “The World’s End” and then not have the world end. We wanted to follow through on that and at least in some way have the world as they know it come to an end.
Wright: At least it’s a very happy ending as well.
Pegg: Yeah, absolutely. Like with Shaun of the Dead we had this idea of Shaun and Ed with Ed as this sort of weird ideal ending where Ed gets to be who he was forever, which is doesn’t have to get a job and play video games. It’s sweet though, because Shaun hasn’t moved on. He hasn’t let his friend go. With Hot Fuzz it’s a very dubious ending. It’s like this strange fascist utopia that’s replaced the NWA which doesn’t seem to be that much better, they are beating up hippies by the recycle bins with Angel wearing black gloves and it’s just another regime that’s come into power. Whereas in this one everybody to some degree gets exactly what they were after and to be honest, in the writing process Edgar and I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if Gary literally ended up with his young friends at the end?” We were trying to figure out some sort of time travel scenario where Gary sort of disrupted some warp core and he ended up back in nineteen ninety three and then we realized…
Wright: It was way too much leg work, looking back to Back to the Future Part II…
Pegg: Time travel is way too problematic with stories.
Wright: Well you need to sort of spend a whole movie on it basically.
Pegg: Just watch Hot Tub Time Machine.
Wright: The great thing about a movie where there are young replicants is to give them a chance to be in their young bodies. And, in fact, I think Gary’s first step to actually making some kind of progression is to reject his younger self. When he gets a chance to be in his younger body he literally kills himself. So it’s actually his first act of growing up. Him doing that is like “actually I don’t want to be the teenage me. I want to be me.”
Pegg: Yeah, I mean the great irony is he tried to kill himself before the film starts and then he really does kill himself in the film, but it’s the part of himself that’s the most damaging, which is his youthful exuberance.
Wright: There’s also that thing at the end, which is deliberately very cyclical. We always had the idea that not only was the world going to end, and in a way there were things like… there was this TV movie in the eighties called Threads [trailer] that was sort of the UK version of The Day After [trailer] and it was the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust and it was absolutely terrifying. It was like two separate hours of TV movies and the second half was mainly about the nuclear winter. But I remember me and Simon both talked about it. The second half of Threads where it’s living in the nuclear winter and being hunter-gatherers again and doing animal farming is part of… You watch The Road Warrior and you think…
Pegg: I’m sure Threads influenced even more than we think, because that’s the epilogue at the end. Because at the end of the first part is when the bomb goes off during the nuclear attack. The second episode is about you completely lose who you thought was the main character, he dies, and then you follow the survivors through the initial stages of post nuclear Britain. Then it leaps forward in time maybe thirty or forty years to this bizarre society where people are having mutated babies and stuff. That is kind of what we do at the end. It’s like the dark ages. Gary is literally living in the past.
Wright: That’s the thing. He gets to literally live in the past, but there’s also a thing at the end which I thought was really nice. We wanted to make the ending quite novelistic and much more novelistic than the ends to Shaun and Hot Fuzz. One of those things was at the start of the movie, Gary is narrating the prologue and being wistful about 1990 and none of the others, particularly Andy, miss the past at all. At the end of the movie, Andy is narrating. We’ve been through sort of a nuclear holocaust and right at the very very end, Andy admits to missing Gary. So it’s taken all of that for him to actually sort of romanticize the past. Then on top of that, Gary will never know this because they don’t see each other again. Plus Andy will never know that Gary took Andy’s advice to stop drinking. And that’s all set up in The First Post.
Nick Frost: I think they will see each other in the next film.
Pegg: “Hail to the King.”
Wright: Look at his T-shirt! [Note: You can see the t-shirt in this tweet from Pegg.]
It’s such a spoiler, that T-shirt.
Wright: That is a spoiler, that T-shirt.
A big spoiler.
Pegg: There’s a line in the first part where Nick says “You go into a bar wearing war paint and ordering…” and that’s what Gary does at the end, to the point where there are guys with war paint on.
Fans will hope you’ll all make another movie together at some point. Going off Nick’s joke, you have this ending where you could make The Road Warrior next, or Hail to the King. When you wrote that ending, as Edgar explained, did you think about how it could be the start to a new story?
Wright: I think in a way, with all three of the movies. Hot Fuzz most obviously, but they all seem like they would hint at future adventures. But one of the nice things about making…and I’m not even sure that it is a trilogy, it’s more of three separate movies that are connected … one of the nice things about doing it, and one of the reasons we started writing screenplays after having done TV, is because on TV you always have to return to the status quo. In films you can end the world and the world is changed forever. With The World’s End the world is changed forever. Gary King is responsible for the end of the world. He’s gone from being a social nuisance to a galactic nuisance and yet I think the nice thing is to do endings where you hint to future adventures which can live on in people’s imaginations. There are plenty of movies where I wish they would, even when some of the sequels are pretty good. Like Back to the Future, I like two and three enough, but I would love it to just end with the first one. So you hint at “Oh wow, where are they going to go?” and imagine that.
Frost: Plus then the Network launches a ground assault.
Wright: They get pissed off and become foul mouthed.
Frost: Maybe it’s Pauls.
There it is. Tie that film in too.
Pegg: We kind of came up with an idea for Pauls, but it’s just…
Frost: We couldn’t afford it. Paul cost so much that if we went back to his planet, it would be a planet with one alien on it.
Well he’s got to come back to Earth.
Pegg: We had a whole thing and it’s like “We can’t have six of them when one of them costs twenty million.” (Laughs)