Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Edgar Wright – Movies Spotlight – August 2010

Edgar Wright is best known for his many collaborative projects with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jessica Hynes. As a director, he is able to bring cult humor to a mainstream audience, whiles still being cool and appealing to his fans (being able to succeed without selling out). His new film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World releases wide this month, his first without Pegg and Frost, based on the comic series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. The film premiered at 2010’s San Diego Comic-Con with approval from fans and critics alike.

Early Career:

Wright graduated from Bournemouth Arts College and decided to make a spoof western for his first project – A Fistful of Fingers which ended up receiving a small release in Britain and broadcast on British TV. Despite Wright not being overly pleased with the film, it still got the attention of British TV executives leading to directing jobs on Mash and Peas, Is It Bill Bailey?, Merry-Go-Round (written by Alexei Sayle), and French and Saunders (among others), but it was his work on Asylum that would prove to be most influential on his career. It was on Asylum that he met writer-actors Pegg and Hynes. So, when it was time for them to produce their new show Spaced, they looked to Wright, who they enjoyed working with before, to direct.


Spaced marked the breakout for the comedy team of Wright, Pegg and Frost. The show was co-written by Pegg and Hynes, but Hynes has not seen the same success internationally as the others. The show ushered in a new comedy era – what could be called cool nerdy characters paving the way for shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory today. It also brought cult items and humor to more of a broad audiences (be it in the U.K., as the show is still more of a cult item in the States). The critical success of Spaced launched the film career for Wright as a director.


Wright decided to spoof George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead for his first feature film, calling it Shaun of the Dead, but unlike many spoof films, the characters were not caricatures of characters in Romero’s film, rather they were new fully fleshed out characters inhabiting a real world and exhibiting real emotions. Shaun of the Dead generated comedy both from poking fun at the zombie genre and self-generating jokes. The film was met with critical acclaim and love from fans of Spaced and new fans just seeing Wright’s work for the first time. The film also helped propel Pegg and Frost into successful film careers of their own. Next, Wright, Pegg and Frost made a spoof of cheesy action films called Hot Fuzz. The film was also met with acclaim from fans and critics. Wright decided to make his next film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, outside his comfort zone of writing with Pegg and having Pegg and Frost staring. Wright also took on the role of producer for the film, a role that he plans to continue in his future films.

Future Projects:
The success of Wright’s foray into comic-book movies landed him the job of directing Ant-Man, tentatively scheduled for a 2012 release. But first, Wright is going to direct Them, a new film written by Mike White about a woman’s journey to unmask the secret rulers of the world. Farther in the future, Wright is attached to The World’s End. Wright will co-write the film with Pegg to complete their three-flavored Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now The World’s End) as a tribute to Krzysztof Kieslowski and his Three Colors series (Blue, White and Red). The World’s End would be another spoof type film along the lines of the previous two with Pegg. He also has a film called Baby Driver in the works as part of a two-picture deal he signed with Working Title Films.

Edgar Wright Box Set (Selected Career Highlights):

1.) Spaced (1999-2001) – Director* [DVD]
2.) Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Writer/Director* [Blu-ray/DVD]
3.) Hot Fuzz (2007) – Writer/Director* [Blu-ray/DVD]
* Editor’s picks.

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