Comedian, actor, and screenwriter Simon Pegg first became noticed for his British sitcom Spaced and since then, he’s managed to put out amazing critically acclaimed films and at the same time, be a part of major blockbuster Hollywood hits. He is the star and one of the creative forces behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. All three were written by Pegg, directed by Edgar Wright and starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and he’s also been a big part of two blockbuster movie franchises, Star Trek and Mission Impossible.
Pegg sat down this week with host Ron Bennington in front of a studio audience to tape an episode of SiriusXM’s Unmasked. He talked about his new film Hector and the Search For Happiness, and explained how comfort and happiness are not the same things. Pegg also brought up another new film he has out this year, The Boxtrolls, and explained what its like working with movie star Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible 5.
One of the puppeteers came up to me and said – Hey, you’re the guy whose daughter saved Star Wars – which was probably one of the greatest moments of my life.
Of course he can’t say much about what he saw, but he did call it “amazing” particularly since Abrams is going back to using physical special effects like in the original Star Wars trilogy as opposed to a more CG-heavy approach. Although he admits that Abrams had already planned to use old school techniques, he told the Unmasked audience how his daughter became influential in determining the look of the new Star Wars and even became known as the girl who saved Star Wars.
Years ago, when Simon Pegg showed his daughter the Empire Strikes back when she was 3, he said, “I couldn’t wait. It was at night. I was like – “Aah, let’s just watch it now! I can’t wait for you to be 7!” She watched and liked Star Wars, and even watched all of Empire Strikes Back, despite that its a little dark for a 3 year old. “But when Yoda first appears on the screen” he said, “she had never seen the Frank Oz Yoda. She had only ever seen the cartoon Yoda or he’s on a commercial in the UK advertising cell phones.” She had never seen the actual puppet on screen before, and she had a very strong reaction to seeing him in Empire Strikes Back. Simon explains:
When he appears, I saw her sort of sit up. She looked at the screen and then she looked at me and then she looked back at the screen and she watched it for a bit. And then she said – “Daddy, he’s real!”. And I kind of like burst out crying. I was like – “You’re my child!” And it’s because he’s there. He’s there interacting with Mark Hamill. Even if he was CG, we’d still know he wasn’t really there because he’s a sort of a little long-eared alien. But the fact that it was a puppet who’s existing in the same space as Mark Hamill, talking to him, it made her believe in him in a way that CG would never do.
He shared this story with J.J. Abrams. “I told J.J. this, and J.J. went into a number of meetings in sort of the period leading up to making “Star Wars” and I think used that as a good argument for using puppets and masks and that kind of thing,” Pegg said.
Of course this was all years ago, so when Simon visited the set of the new Star Wars this year, he was completely surprised when one of the puppeteers came up to him and said, “Hey, you’re the guy whose daughter saved Star Wars!” Pegg called this one of the greatest moments of his life. “I know that J.J. had always planned to do that,” he said, “but it was a nice little validation of that impulse, I think, to have a child of that age say that.”
As thrilled as Pegg is about J.J. Abrams and “Star Wars”, he did admit on Unmasked to feeling some jealously about his “Star Trek” director taking on a whole new universe. “Well, when I first heard J.J. (Abrams) was doing it, I got upset. Because I was like, “Oh no. Daddy’s going to go play with someone else.” I phoned him and said – “Is Star Trek going to be like the less cute older sibling? Now you’ve got this new baby to play with.” That’s not true. He will be very involved when we make Star Trek 3 next year.”
Besides “Star Trek 3” and “Mission Impossible 5”, Pegg has a full slate of new projects arriving. “Hector and the Search For Happiness” opens nationwide Friday, September 19th. His animated feature “The Boxtrolls” opens a week later on Friday, September 26th. And his romantic comedy, “Man Up” co-starring Lake Bell in in post-production.
Ron Bennington’s Unmasked with Simon Pegg will premiere this Friday, September 12th at 2 pm Eastern on the Ron and Fez Show. You can listen on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog Comedy Hits Channel 99. Replays of this episode will run Saturday, September 13th at 7 pm et and on Sunday, September 14th at 2 pm and 10 pm et.
Unmasked — an hour long interview show talking about creativity with comedians– is taped before a live studios audience. In addition to hosting Unmasked, Ron Bennington also hosts Ron Bennington Interviews and is the primary voice on The Ron and Fez Show weekdays from noon to 3pm et on SiriusXM. For information on how to get tickets to tapings of Unmasked, follow@UnmaskedShow on twitter.