“It’s a nice way of saying I’m not Tom Cruise, which I’m perfectly fine with.”
Simon Pegg is reflecting on the tag of “everyman”, which seems to have become the catch-all term to describe his particular brand on screen – part humdrum day-to-life, part potential to fly into a different world at the first footstep of a zombie.
Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything... including launderettes
“I guess it’s ‘relatability’. There are actors like Tom Cruise, who is this other-worldly fantasy-being in real life and on screen. That’s why he’s the biggest movie star in the world. He’s gorgeous and god-like and wonderful. Your heart flutters in his presence. I’m just a guy down the pub, and both these qualities are sellable.”
Simon Pegg’s two beefs – see below…
As proved, with Pegg’s increasingly robust grip on the big parts in Hollywood that call for a bit of down-to-earth Britishness – the last two Mission Impossibles, an ongoing role as Scotty in the revamped Star Trek. So why did he down Hollywood tools to make a low-budget film - The Fantastic Fear Of Everything - about an author losing his grip?
“It was the chance to play a complete raving lunatic, which is a gift for an actor, a challenge like that.”
A Fantastic Fear of Everything shows a man at the edge
He’s not kidding. 35 minutes of the film, directed by Crispian Mills – yes, THAT Crispian Mills in his debut feature – involves Pegg on screen all by himself, and most of it careering around in his Y-fronts – a lonely time?
“I wasn’t on my own,” laughs Pegg. “I was surrounded by a great director and a lot of very supportive people, I’m not carrying the film, it is carrying me.”
Although Pegg is in that rare situation of being able to pick and choose his projects, he swears he never does anything for financial reasons, in comparison with a former life…
When I used to be a hotel porter, I used to clean toilets, and I used to sit on toilets and work out how much money I was making a minute, and now I’m making films, I never think about how much money I’m making, it’s just so much fun.”
Pegg is not alone as an actor in experiencing a backlash for all this success and fun. How does he respond to those fans who think he’s somehow sold out? With a big shrug of the shoulders, it seems…
“There are people who hated us after Shaun of the Dead, ardent Spaced fans – in fact, some are people who are actually extras in Shaun of the Dead, stupid little sour-mouthed indie kids.
“It’s that same mentality that makes people drop bands because more people like them, it’s about territory. I was the same, a real indie snob, dropping bands… It’s inevitable - good luck to those people.”
Pegg alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Another price he’s had to pay is a lack of privacy – “mobile phones have turned everyone into a paparazzo, but I really don’t want to be looked at” – and the misconception that he’s somehow chanced it onto the big screen alongside Cruise and others.
“People forget all the hard work, they just see you having dinner with Tom Cruise, and the fact that I’m quite ordinary as a person intensifies that.
“The number of people who say, ‘Hang on, how did you get in Mission Impossible?’ like I’d won a f***ing competition. You want to say, ‘Because I earned it, you f***er.’ But if you say that, you’re a knob.”
If this makes him sound curmudgeonly, he’s not at all, just aware of the value of the work behind his achievements. And besides, as he’s the first to point out, “these are first world problems, and I get to work on Star Trek. I’ve just realised you can’t have that joyous moment on set without paying a tax for it.”
The Fantastic Fear of Everything is in UK cinemas now. Watch the trailer below…