FORGET CRUISE CONTROL
He may be our favourite on-screen geek but this very square Pegg fits perfectly in the role hole carved out for him in this blockbuster
Unsurprisingly, writer-comedian Simon Pegg never pictured himself as an action star. “No! But it was great fun!,’’ he says. “It’s funny to see on the screen and there’s a hell of a lot that is not in the trailer.’’
Undoubtedly, the 45-yearold British star is thrilled with all the possibilities that life has thrown at him these past few years. His latest action adventure movie, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, in which he plays Benji Dunn, is one of the most anticipated movies of 2015 and the fifth instalment in the Tom Cruise franchise.
Also starring Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson, the Christopher McQuarrie-directed blockbuster involves Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team taking on their most impossible mission yet – eradicating The Syndicate, an international rogue organisation highly skilled and committed to destroying the IMF.
The tagline: “Desperate times, call for desperate measures.”
Pegg – actor, comedian, screenwriter, producer, singer and director – is best known for co-writing and starring in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy of films: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013), as well as comedy series Spaced (1999-2001) – all directed by his friend Edgar Wright.
So, everyone wants to know what was it like co-starring with the legendary Tom Cruise?
He is such an inspirational actor. He cares so much about the product. He obsesses about the audience having a truly cinematic experience, so he will do all that stuff. And I was in that plane when he took off and was on the side (during filming). I was in the cockpit, actually, but I did go back and watch the monitor. He did that. This is an age where you can do anything with CG (computer-generated) effects ... When you see something real that makes you go, ‘How did they do that?’. It’s a rare occasion, these days.
So you are saying that Tom Cruise still pushes the envelope?
Yes. Tom has been at the forefront of making sure people still ask that question, by scaling the Burj Khalifa, which he did, and by hanging on to the side of an A-400, which he did. Of course, there were safety precautions, but he did it. There’s stuff he does in the movie that is as committed and as nuts and as exciting as hanging off of a plane, that you don’t see in the trailer.’
So what’s going on in this latest
We’ve had sort of this universe building, now it’s time to start cross-pollinating. I think kind of like Star Wars, Avengers and Mission! I did think that at some point I was going to have to be doing Star Trek and Mission at the same time. Thankfully, the script changed for Star Trek, so it didn’t happen at the same time but there was a point when JJ Abrams said to me ‘You know you might have to do both movies simultaneously’. And I’m like ‘Well, how is that going to happen?’ And he said ‘I don’t know!’ Thankfully, it didn’t. But it’s not a bad problem, admittedly.
Do you do your own stunts?
When I’m allowed to. The insurance may step in and say no! Why? Because you might be killed. So it’s important to get a professional in. But, if it’s permitted, I will do it because it’s important for the audience to see that it’s you and not the stunt professional. As soon as it’s a stunt person, the audience relaxes. They go, ‘Oh it’s just a guy who does that for a living’. But if they see it’s you, like, you know, with Tom on the plane, the jeopardy there suddenly increases tenfold. But I do whatever they ask me to do within reason.
Can you tell me more about behind-the-scenes?
From the outside, Tom Cruise appears to be this weird enigma, who’s this complex, strange, mysterious character. He’s not, at all. I hesitate to use the word ordinary, but he is a far more ordinary person than you might expect. He’s a very devoted, very serious, but very fun person. And he’s the first person to mess around on set. He loves his job. He preserves a certain amount of mystique around himself and it helps him to be elevated to the level of movie star that he is, but he’s just a guy. It’s always fun working with Tom because he’s just, you know, Mr Committed. He’s brilliant to be around because you’re like ‘yeah, yeah. Let’s do it, let’s do it.’ I did a lot of fist bumping. He’s an extraordinary driver. I never saw a stuntman drive the car in the whole film. It was always Tom. And it’s important to him. He’s obsessed with actually making sure the audience gets a real thrill out of knowing that it’s him. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation opens today
Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg in a scene from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation