On April 18, Edgar Wright turns 46. Born in 1972, Wright grew up in the villages Poole, Dorset and Wells in Somerset, where he fell in love with movies. “My formative experience of cinema all took place in Dorset,” recalls Wright. “The first film I saw was Star Wars at the age of three on Westover Road in 1978.” Studying Audio-Visual Design at the nearby Poole College of Art, Wright transformed his love for cinema into a passion for making movies. ‘When everybody was at the beach, I was living like Gollum in the edit suite, subsisting on vending machine coffee and Snickers bars,” Wright jokes.
For Wright, a love for watching and making movies has gone hand-in-hand, as he mines his encyclopedia cinematic knowledge to craft his genre-bending films. At the same time, each movie offers a glimpse into Wright's own life as well. While his next film, the psychological thriller Last Night In Soho—with EMMA.’s Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, and Matt Smith—is set during London’ swinging sixties, a good decade before Wright was born, the subject matter is still personal. For Wright, central London—and the movies that have been set there—“have been such a big part of my life, living and working in Soho and Fitzrovia and literally pounding the pavement late at night walking home, starting to think about what these walls had seen.”
To celebrate Wright’s birthday, we're having a party to rewatch his great Cornetto Trilogy—as if one really needed a reason to return to the hilarious, inspired work that Wright and his collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost created with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. To showcase the man in addition to the artist, we're highlighting how Wright told us a little more about himself with each new film.
Shaun of the Dead | A labor of love
Shaun of the Dead originated as an idea from Wright and Simon Pegg’s TV show Spaced. Wright remembers “being in a cab with Simon on the way to the [TV show’s] wrap party and saying ‘Hey, we should do a whole zombie film!’” From script to production, the film was a labor of love. While Pegg and Wright's long-time obsession for George Romero’s zombie films inspired the story, it was the love of their fans and friends that made the film happen. Many of the actors Wright worked with on Spaced happily appeared in the film. When the budget got tight, a last-minute call out to fans provided the hordes of zombie extras needed to fill up the streets. For Wright, the film was also a family affair. Wright’s brother Oscar helped out with the storyboards and film titles. There is even a special nod to his mom. In the film, Shaun’s mother playfully calls him “Pickle,” the very term of endearment that Wright’s mother had for him.
Hot Fuzz | Small town boy does good
For Hot Fuzz, Wright tapped into his love of action films, especially “a particular strand of dumb, switch-your-brain-off, popcorn entertainment” of which he admits, “I am a big fan.” When top London cop Nick Angel (Pegg) is demoted to policing the sleepy village of Sandford, he uncovers, with the help of his new partner, PC Danny Butterman (Frost), a conspiracy of crime he could never have imagined. Wright may have never been a cop, but he certainly savored his share of shoot-em-up DVDs as a teen growing up in the small town of Wells. Wright even used Wells as the primary location and included autobiographical spots, like the Somerfield grocery where he worked as a kid, in the film. At a creative level, Wright’s small town experience—“I spent 15 years in Wells, but I was treated like an outsider”— partially inspired the film’s plot of a little village with very big secrets.
The World’s End | Going home again
In The World’s End, a group of adults—including Pegg and Frost—return to their hometown to finish a pub crawl they never got through as teens. Of course, in Wright’s imagination the boys-going-home genre magically morphs into an apocalyptic alien adventure. In many ways, The World’s End is Wright’s most autobiographical film. At 19, he attempted a pub crawl similar to that in the film. “I saw this as a noble, manly quest to drink a pint at every pub in my hometown of Wells,” Wright remembers. Even the pub’s name, The World’s End, came from an actual pub Wright and Pegg frequented. For Wright, the spirit of the film felt very personal, especially the experience of, as he explains, “Going back to my hometown and finding that nothing had changed, but everything was different."