Director Edgar Wright talks of doing the Wright thing
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 00:03
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” director Edgar Wright will be making his second trip in his lifetime to Florida to host “Two Nights Done Wright with Edgar Wright” this weekend at Florida State University.
Friday will feature a screening of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” introduced by Wright, followed by screenings of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” on Saturday with a question-and-answer session. Each event is $5 for the general public.
In an interview with The Oracle, Wright said the event offers a welcome break from the typical grind of promoting his latest films.
“I like showing the films together, it’s always fun,” he said. “But it’s always nice talking to film students because I like talking to people who want to know about how films are made — because when I do these things, people have a lot of questions about things you never get to talk about in normal press interviews.”
Wright, who has come off a busy year co-writing Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” and producing Joe Cornish’s “Attack the Block,” said he feels these events offer a chance to break from surface layer details about his films.
“You know, when you’re promoting a film, you never get to go into any great detail,” he said. “People just want to know the basic details of what’s next, so it’s great doing these shows because you get to go into greater detail about how these things are made.”
Despite an almost encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, Wright was uncharacteristically stumped when asked about his favorite film set in Florida.
“‘White Lightning?’” he said. “But that may not be a film set in Florida. I may be wrong, but it definitely has kind of the swamps in it and such. I can’t say ‘Bad Boys II,’ can I? No, that would be crazy. I’ll have to come up with a better answer when I’m in Florida that weekend.”
Wright recently finished another triple bill of his three feature directorial outings at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, but said that he doesn’t tire of experiencing his films with new audiences.
“You know, in Austin ... there were people who had seen ‘Scott Pilgrim’ 20 times on HBO or Blu-ray all over the theater,” he said. “Yet they watched it for the 21st time and they got to experience it on the big screen, so they got to see it the way it was intended. It was never really intended to be watched on the iPhone.”
Though many cast off the box-office shortcomings of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” as signs of the film’s quality, Wright said its cult status has been achieved for those seeking a unique cinematic experience.
“A film that’s a little bit different — and ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is a little bit different because it doesn’t easily fit into one box — it’s harder for the films to make a mark,” said Wright. “But that’s also one of the best things about it, is that it isn’t sort of cookie-cutter and simple. That said, I am very proud of the movie and in that particular case, it’s one of the things that somebody (at the) studio said, ‘This is the kind of film that’ll be measured in years, not days.’”
Wright said all three of his films were creative gambles at the time, even though they now seem in line with trends like zombies and cop comedies.
“Today, weirdly, the script for ‘Shaun of the Dead’ or ‘Hot Fuzz’ would probably get made, because there’s been lots of things that have come since — like zombies are very much in the zeitgeist thanks to ‘The Walking Dead,’” he said. “But back in 2001, when we first started to work on it, we could barely get it made. Same thing with ‘Hot Fuzz’ — ‘21 Jump Street’ is No. 1 at the moment, but five years ago, people couldn’t wrap their heads around ‘Hot Fuzz.’”
Yet anyone who knows Wright knows he isn’t prone to just sitting around watching his own films, but is also an avid film buff himself. A particular recent favorite of his was the silent hit “The Artist,” which won an Academy Award for Best Picture this year, a choice that Wright adamantly defends.
“I thought that film was great and I though the backlash against it was very strange because it seems to me you don’t want to win Best Picture or else you just get a bunch of people bitching about that movie,” he said. “It’s ridiculous when people act like it’s ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ or something, because it really is an odd film to win Best Picture at the Oscars and I am glad it did.”
Wright said he would like to make a more “purely visual” film some day as opposed to his three movies, which are all dialogue-heavy.
“Having made three films that are very talky — I mean ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is incredibly visual, but there is a lot of dialogue in it — it makes me realize if you make films that are very dialogue heavy, they don’t really play around the world,” he said. “Comedies, especially, that have a lot of dialogue struggle to play outside of the U.S., Australia, the UK and some parts of Europe.”
Wright has an impressive slate of films in the works that he is keeping mum about, including an adaptation of the ’70s paranormal television series “The Night Stalker” starring Johnny Depp, a third collaboration with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in “The World’s End,” and a possible comic book adaptation of “Ant-Man.”
For those willing to make the trip to FSU, Wright offers a simple invitation: “Come along, it’ll be fun.”