In new indie-thriller Inheritance, Simon Pegg plays Morgan Warner, a mysterious individual discovered locked away in an underground cell by the daughter of a powerful man who dies suddenly.
The bunker is where he spends most of the movie.
“It was in a paper factory in Birmingham, Alabama, in the middle of which they built this bunker,” he explained. “They made the set to be as bunker-like as possible.”
“It had a ceiling on it; it was enclosed, there wasn’t any light shining through from above, so once you were in it, it felt very authentic. Actually, that made it a lot easier to get into character. Funnily enough, it was very much like Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell in The Silence of the Lambs, where he’s in the middle of that big room. It was a brilliantly designed set.”
The Silence of the Lambs, which grossed $272.7 million at the worldwide box office and won five Oscars, is widely considered to be one of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time.
He added, “Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter is the sort of the gold standard in terms of enigmatic men trapped in small spaces. There are elements of him in Morgan, purely by his nature, but the character was all in the script. It wasn’t like I was channeling anyone in particular. The script was very clear-cut in terms of who that guy is. I’d worked with the director, Vaughn Stein, on another movie called Terminal together, and I really enjoyed working with him. He’s funny, has this proactive attitude, and is also very good with the actors on the set.”
“I love doing the big budgets movies like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, but I like making independent films as well. I jumped at the chance to do Inheritance. It was so good, the decision felt like a no-brainer. Sometimes it was like doing theatre because the scenes were quite long and we would do quite long takes. It was enjoyable just to let it all breathe, you know?”
It was the theatrics that particularly appealed to Pegg.
“I did a lot with theatre when I was younger, and I loved it,” he enthused. “I was discussing doing something this year, and then the pandemic happened. At some point, I’ll definitely do theatre again. I miss it.”
“When I go to see theatre, I get that sense of longing for the idea that you are getting to live with a character for a longer period of time, to refine the performance and do it over and over again. That’s something that’s a real treat for an actor. Doing films is great, and I love it, but I sort of haven’t had a moment to do anything like that in 20 years because there’s always been something else coming up. I’m sure I’ll do it, though.”
The coronavirus pandemic had another impact on the actor, inspiring him to revive his character Shaun from the iconic British comedy, Shaun of the Dead for a PSA.
“There have been so many people using memes of Shaun of the Dead and mentioning going to The Winchester, and I woke up one morning, and I just thought we should do something, a kind of response to that,” he recalled.
“I was actually on the school run when I called Nick Frost and just said to him, ‘If I send you some lines, can you just record them on your phone?’ So I sent him some lines, and he changed them a bit. We changed a joke, but what I say in the PSA is the intellectual interpretation of what the joke means. When people reported on it, they called it a ‘problematic joke,’ but it’s not. Anyway, I put it together that day and that we put it on YouTube, and it suddenly went bananas. It was interesting.”
The original video, the YouTube account, Stolen Picture, the production company run by Pegg and Frost, has been watched over 2.4 million times.
Shaun of the Dead grossed $30 million at the worldwide box office and has become a cult classic. It was directed by frequent collaborator, Edgar Wright who also helmed the British sitcom, Spaced. In a parallel move to keep fans occupied during the pandemic, Wright recently instigated a tweetalong viewing of that show’s first season.
Pegg explained, “He emailed me and said, ‘I’m going to this Spaced tweetalong,’ and I just replied saying, ‘I’m going to be in bed. It’s something like 11 pm, and I have small children, and I have dogs to feed in the morning.’ I dropped in, though.”
“Bless his heart; no-one asked him to do it. He just did it on his own. I dug out a few pictures for him and sent them over to him. I can’t stay up until that time of night doing that.
Did the experience make Pegg and his co-stars consider following in the footsteps of shows such as Community and Parks and Recreation and doing a reunion or cast script read online for fans during the pandemic?
“We haven’t talked about,” he said. “I’ve been pretty busy, so it’s not like I’m not doing anything. and I have a production company, and we’ve got tons of stuff that we are developing, so it’s not like we’ve been just sitting around and snapping our fingers.”
“But you never know. It depends on how long this goes on.”
Inheritance is available On Demand and Digital now.
Source: Forbes Business