Simon Pegg

Shaun Of The Dead

Interviewed by Nev Pierce

“Acting is mucking around and writing is hard work ”

Gloucester-born comedian-turned-actor Simon Pegg gets his big screen break in Brit horror/comedy Shaun Of The Dead. He's best known for co-starring and co-writing the sitcom Spaced with Jessica Stevenson, but has also appeared in films as diverse as The Parole Officer, 24 Hour Party People, and Guest House Paradiso. He was also bullet fodder in Steven Spielberg's TV mini-series Band Of Brothers. He'll next be seen as a gaolor in Paul McGuigan's The Reckoning.

There's a bit of a zombie renaissance at the moment with Shaun Of The Dead and Dawn Of The Dead...

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's because of [the video game] Resident Evil. That came from Japan and really captured the spirit of the [George A] Romero zombie films, and piqued everyone's interest in them again. You can pretty much track from 1997/8 when that first came out - it's inevitable that zombie movies are now emerging again.

There's a zombie pastiche in your Channel 4 sitcom Spaced. Is that where Shaun Of The Dead was born?

I'd written a scene in Spaced where my character Tim was battling zombies, because he kind of gets immersed in a video game, and it struck us - me and Edgar [Wright, director] - when we were filming that if we could actually do this in a TV show, then why couldn't we do it as a film?

We wanted to make a comedy, we wanted to make something that was funny and also something that was scary. Both of us are big fans of An American Werewolf In London, which is as much an influence on this film as the original Night Of The Living Dead, because it has that rare joy of being a film which is at once hilarious and terrifying, and forces you to experience this strange spectrum of emotion. One minute you're leaping out of your seat feeling sick, the next minute you're laughing, and then you're laughing at something which was actually pretty horrible. It's really clever. Basically we just wanted to make a rod for our own backs by trying to do two genres at once.

Are there any plans for another series of Spaced?

I don't think another series. Possibly a special or something like that, though. We definitely haven't finished with those characters.

So what are your plans now?

Just to keep writing and keep doing stuff. I also want to act a little bit more. I realised how much I loved acting whilst I was doing the film. It was something I hadn't done for a little while because I had been writing. Both things I find fulfilling, but suddenly acting in Shaun Of The Dead, I was thinking, This is great fun. Basically, acting is mucking around and writing is hard work - although I'm sure a lot of actors would say that's bull****!