How To Lose Friends & Alienate People, the new comedy starring Star Trek’s new Scotty (Simon Pegg) opens today. We have the final round-up of his Star Trek comments from his press tour, plus an update on his reviews and his ‘fight’ with Ricky Gervais.
Pegg on Trek
Q: Looking towards future projects, you’re in the upcoming “Star Trek” film, playing Scotty. That must have been quite the experience for a noted sci-fi fan like yourself.
Pegg: I never for a second took that lightly. I had a really good time doing that movie, it was phenomenal fun. I never once lost sight of what I was doing. … They’re beloved characters, that people feel like they own. I can understand a certain nervousness when people go off and do something with it. I think the fan fear that is out there for the new “Star Trek” is all about the fear that it might get broken. That really isn’t a concern.
I am a fan of the first ‘Star Trek,’ but I specifically stayed away from trying to do James Doohan (the original Scotty). We were all trying to be those characters and not the actors. So I concentrated on playing Montgomery Scott. ‘Star Trek’ is about the story.
Q: (reader question) How did it feel to be chosen for geek glory to play Scotty in the new Star Trek movie?
Pegg: I thought you were going to ask, “Who the hell do you think you are?” I was thrilled, and I wasn’t surprised at the reaction. I understand that it’s a precious thing. You don’t want it in the hands of someone who a) doesn’t appreciate it or b) might seek to undermine it. Star Trek is a beloved story and is being treated as such. It’s being done very seriously. There’s no attempt to wink at the camera.
video of Pegg’s Time.com interview
I’ve been very out as an [Star Trek] enthusiast, because Spaced obviously pinned me as a geek. So it was amazing to be part of that whole universe. To be a grown man acting not just with Leonard Nimoy, but with that character who I’ve known since I was a child, is just mind-blowing.
Q: What did you do studying James Doohan’s Scotty that you took in your characterization and how do you tribute him in the film?
Pegg: I’m a fan of Star Trek, and I have all the home DVDs. I specifically stayed away from trying to do James, I tried to do Scotty. Because I figured, the film is not a parody in any way, we’re trying to be those characters, not those actors. Those actors picked up the script and said “Ok, he’s James [Tiberius] Kirk” or “He’s Montgomery Scott, born in Lithgow”–that’s how we had to approach the roles, because the story is not about the actors. James Doohan beautifully created a legendary character, a real sci-fi icon. He’s sort of sensitive and funny, tough, resilient, and clever. Sure, he thinks he’s the real captain of the ship, because he does all the dirty work. He’s where it matters. Kirk’s up there swingin’ around in his yellow top and Scotty’s down in the engine room with oily hands.
I got in touch with Chris Doohan, James’ son. In fact, he got in touch with me first, which was a relief because I was trying to find a way. And all I said was, “look, I’m just trying to give a performance that would make your dad proud.” Not to do James, but to do Scotty. And Chris is my assistant in one of the rooms on the ship. He was telling me that he’d been on set of “The Trouble with Tribbles” and dislodged, you know at the end where all the tribbles fall of Kirk. He and his brother and just knocked it open before they shot and FILLED the set with tribbles.
Pegg on Gervais controversy
There has been a mini-media storm in the UK between Simon Pegg and Ricky Gervais (the man who turned down a role, possibly as Scotty, in JJ Abrams Star Trek). In a radio intervirew Pegg called Gervais ‘an idiot’ and ‘fat’ in response to Gervais’ comments about the lack of good British cinema. However, on his MySpace blog, Pegg says that it was just a joke:
So apparently I have “slammed” Ricky Gervais in the press as being a “fat idiot”. Oh dear. Ricky’s comments about the British film industry were definitely a little unfair but whatever I said on Heart FM was intended in the spirit of mutual teasing that myself Ricky have always indulged in. I am not in a position to genuinely accuse anybody of being fat, or for that matter of being an idiot. Whatever public feud is subsequently encouraged/fueled/blown out of proportion as a result of this, it is entirely the doing of those gleefully stood around clapping their hands and shouting “fight”.
It is true however that we used to be lovers.
p.s. Ricky and I have laughed about this, although his initial response was “It’s glandular you cunt.”
Pegg’s new movie opens today to mixed reviews
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People starring Simon Pegg opens today. It is a comedy based on a true story (and book) about a Brit (played by Pegg) who moves to New York to work on a big magazine and gets involved in American celebrity culture. The film also features Kirsten Dunst as a co-worker, Jeff Bridges as the magazine editor and Megan Fox as a celebrity.
Reviews are decidedly mixed for the film. Yahoo Movies gives it an average critic rating of C+, however Pegg himself has garnered some good notices. The Miami Herald says Pegg was ‘an inspired choice’ to play the lead while Roger Ebert says he was ‘born to play’ the part. The SF Chronicle calls Pegg’s slapstick "hilarious" while Reelviews rates his performance as "brilliant." But it isn’t all good for Pegg, as the Chicago Reader notes: "Pegg has some good obnoxious moments, but he’s only a few movies away from becoming Dudley Moore." Of course if they remake Arthur, they know who to call.
Pegg as the obnoxious Young, in ‘Loose Friends’