If you look at all our references, what we allude to in our films and our sitcom even... they're almost exclusively American films. We grew up on a diet of American culture, which you just do if you're from the UK. It's this great resource - a country hundreds of times bigger than ours, but speaks our language.
- Simon Pegg, on America
As a creative unit, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (and their frequent collaborator, director Edgar Wright) represent easily the most potent incursion by British comedy into American "geek culture" since the heyday of Monty Python. Though dedicated Anglophiles likely discovered their revitalized take on the otherwise-waning subgenre of pop-referential nerd/slacker comedy in the BBC sitcom Spaced, it was the epic comic love-letter to zombie movies Shaun of The Dead that blasted them into the cultural stratosphere.
A follow-up, the action spoof Hot Fuzz, brought more acclaim ... and soon enough came penetration into the Hollywood blockbuster scene they'd admired and satirized - they both cameo'd in George Romero's Land of The Dead, and Pegg landed the heavily-sought role of Scotty in JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot.
I think I called you Pom-Pom this morning?
- Simon Pegg, on nicknames.
You did call me Pom-Pom this morning.
- Nick Frost, on nicknames.
Note: Shortly after this, Nick Frost trailed off into digression on how odd it is for them to actually say each other's names, repeating variations on "Simon, Si-Mon, his name is Siiiiimooooon ..."
Now they're back again with Paul, a send-up/celebration of UFO mythology and it's translation into the "Spielbergian" optimistic-scifi of the 80s, which casts the pair as geeky British tourists who meet a real-life alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) while visiting America for the San Diego Comic Con. I had the honor of joining them as part of a roundtable interview when their press-tour stopped in Boston - and yes, they are exactly as funny in person as you'd hope them to be. I've assembled some choice quotes from the session, for your reading pleasure...
Coming from England, films like Deliverance or Southern Comfort... you have this preconceived notion of what people will be like in the [American] interior... but they're actually quite the opposite. Except that old lady who chased us with the pitchfork.
- Nick Frost, on Americans
And those hillbillies who abused us.
- Simon Pegg, on Americans
As part of the production of Paul, Pegg and Frost embarked on an actual American road trip, to get a feel for the country itself and to (hopefully) inspire more humorous observations in the movie. During the interview, they repeatedly stress that the movie wouldn't have worked without it.
We live in a country you can drive across in a day. This is a country where you can travel a day and not see another human being - that was awe-inspiring.
- Simon Pegg, on their American road-trip
Indeed, a sneaking sense of autobiographical intent is part of the film's charm - much of its central joke is that the two shy, introverted Brits are much more "alien" to the American backroads than the actual alien ... who's been living in the States since the 50s and is actually responsible for much of the scifi pop-culture they grew up worshipping.
Everything we write is to make ourselves laugh. We learned very early on that there are other people who also laugh at what we find funny, so our first litmus test is us.
- Simon Pegg, on the writing process
We try to make Edgar [Wright] laugh, actually.
- Nick Frost, correcting Simon Pegg, on the writing process
We'd never do it, but sometimes we think it might be fun to actually make a big expensive film ... but then only show it to our mates, y'know?
- Nick Frost