Simon Pegg attends the "Paul" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on March 14 in Hollywood (WireImage)

Simon Pegg attends the "Paul" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on March 14 in Hollywood (WireImage)

BLAST: I understand that, while preparing for this film, you did a sort of road trip across at least a portion of America. What did you find most interesting?

SP: We found a six-headed baby, didn’t we? That was really weird.

NF: Yeah, that was weird.

SP: No, not really. I think the sheer size and scope of the nation, physically. We live in a country that you can travel across in a day, easily, and this is a country that you can travel in a day and not see another human being, and that was awe-inspiring.

When you see what’s in between the cities, just this extraordinary landscape that’s vast and terrifying, and you get a sense of what fundamentalizes the American psyche, in a way. Existing on this landmass, that pioneer attitude, that forward momentum that this country has, it’s in the very rock. It’s quite amazing – we said ‘wow’ more than we’ve ever said it.

NF: I think also, you know, coming from England, I think films like obviously “Deliverance” and “Southern Comfort,” you have a preconceived notion of what people are going to be like in the interior and then, in fact, what you find is that…

SP: It’s true.

NF: It’s completely the opposite. In fact, everyone was incredibly welcoming and warm, essentially. Apart from the mother of the six-headed baby who drove us off with a pitchfork.

SP: And those hillbillies who abused us.

NF: Yeah but I mean, that aside, it was good.

SP: A lot of what we experienced went into the script, like the two scary guys in the Little Alien – that actually happened to us. And the alien. Meeting the alien, that happened. When I look back, the idea of writing this film without making that trip seems to me an absurdity. We had to do that journey.

NF: We tried to write as well, that was our intention – someone was going to drive and we were going to sit at the little table and try and write on the way, but I think within two hours, we thought ‘Aw, fuck it. That’s not what this is about.’ We were missing so much good stuff that we just shut the computers. We sat in the front and just watched the landscape evolve, you know?

SP: In what we called the ‘Chewy seat,’ which is just a measure of how much of geeks we are and how you are, if you understand what we mean by that.

BLAST: Do you guys still consider yourselves geeks? Do you relate to those characters?

NF: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I don’t think it changes – it’s in you. I was going to say it’s genetic but, you know, just because you’re in a position to make films and hang out with Seth Rogen doesn’t mean you don’t have a weird feeling when you hear a TIE fighter screaming down a trench. It’s in me, and I certainly know it’s in Simon.

SP: We grew up on popular cinema and television and it forms a massive part of our reference palette. You go to these little touchstones that you have and they’re all in popular culture and that’s because we’re geeky and we always will be.

NF: I’ll often do a little Nien Nunb laugh to make Simon giggle.

SP: We’ve achieved something good here, haven’t we?

BLAST: Who chose Seth to do the voice of Paul? Did his presence change the writing at all?

SP: Initially, it was an older gent we had in mind when we wrote the character, before we thought of Seth.

NF: As writers sometimes, you think you’ve written the most amazing thing on the page, and then when you sit opposite one another and act it out, it falls a bit flat. During that kind of process, whenever we acted Paul out, he kind of had a very gruff, deep voice.

SP: Kind of like Rip Torn.

NF: Like Rip Torn. That’s who we imagined. So we wanted that, originally, and then you kind of realize you’re going to get this film made and you go to Universal with Rip Torn and they say no. So, you know, you have to find a compromise: they want someone who is comedically relevant at the moment, we wanted someone with a deep, gravelly voice, and Seth was the only person on both of those lists.

SP: It felt like we could have someone who had a voice that was nice and gravelly and gruff and sounded old, but coming from the mouth and mind of someone who was much younger than you think.

NF: Seth’s got Benjamin Button’s voice box. By the time he’s 80, he’s going to have a child’s voice.

SP: He’s also a great improviser – we put the whole film on video first, with Seth as Paul, because Seth had to go off and do “The Green Hornet,” so we needed to get a reference palette for the effects company and we needed to get an idea of what Seth was going to do with the character.

During that time, Seth was able to throw some idea in and adjust the dialogue a little bit, make Paul his own. He’d been looking at a lot of Neil Young and old hippies, and wanted instill Paul with that. I think what he brings to the character is just beautiful. When I watch it, I forget Seth’s even in the movie; he’s Paul now. He’s so fully rounded, 3D – you know, not in the modern sense of ‘Let’s charge more money for shit.’ Seth was a gift.

NF: It’s a nice vindication too, if you’re a fucking idiot like me and accidentally stumble into the IMDB message board and there’s 10 pages of people saying ‘Seth’s shit for this job!’ And now those boards have got weirdly quiet when you look at him do this and you think, ‘He’s actually pretty amazing at it.’ He’s amazing because you forget it’s him.

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About The Author

Molly Coombs is a Blast correspondent and Spring 2011 intern

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