Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Catching up with Simon Pegg, the star of Absolutely Anything

Simon Pegg talks about working with the Monty Python team and how he regrets not meeting Robin Williams, who provides the voice of the dog in Absolutely Anything.
Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale in Absolutely Anything. Courtesy GFM Productions
Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale in Absolutely Anything. Courtesy GFM Productions

Simon Pegg is hard to avoid. The British actor has been advising director pal J J Abrams on the set of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, including a visit to the Abu Dhabi shoot last year.

He’s also busy working ­double-duty on Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the rebooted sci-fi franchise – as co-writer of the script and reprising his role as chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott – which will be filming in Dubai next month.

He’s just been seen co-starring with Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, his third outing in the action-thriller ­franchise.

And now his latest film, Absolutely Anything, which opens in cinemas today, features all the surviving members of the Monty Python team and, in his final role, the late Robin Williams.

Pegg plays Neil, a discontent schoolteacher who is given the power to do anything he wants by a group of aliens (voiced by the Pythons – John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones). Jones also directed the film.

How did you get involved in the film?

It was Terry Jones – I’m a big fan of his and of Monty Python. I grew up watching [the TV show] Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the films they made. So it goes without saying that they were a big influence on me, as they were on anyone who loves British comedy, or comedy in general. So when there was a chance to work with Terry, I said yes immediately and found the experience of working with him lived up to all of my expectations.

What was it like to be in a film with so many iconic comedy actors, including Robin Williams, who provides the voice of your pet dog, Dennis, and the Monty Python team?

It’s a great honour to be in the same film as all of these guys. Unfortunately, I never got to meet Robin Williams – his dialogue was recorded and so I didn’t get to meet him on set.

I did my scenes talking to Mojo, who played Dennis the Dog in the story, and it was great to see this dog who had been staring at me blankly throughout the shoot suddenly given Robin’s voice. While it’s a regret of mine to never have met him while making this, he brought such a funny, energetic performance to the film.

What about the human co-star you do share the screen with, Kate Beckinsale, who plays your love interest?

She was wonderful to work with. You usually find that people who aren’t known for being comedy actors tend to be the most eager to get involved and Kate was always ready for whatever the script asked her to do. She was very naturally funny which I think comes across on-screen, and it was easy for both of us to play off of Rob Riggle, who plays her ex-boyfriend and is a brilliant comedy actor.

This is the second time this year you’ve played a romantic lead, after Man Up. Do you enjoy those types of roles?

I do, although [Man Up] is a very different role, he’s a lot more together than Neil is when we first meet him. Romantic leads are always fun to do because it’s something different to the characters I’ve played in the past and you get to do something a little more serious. I’ve also been very fortunate to have scripts sent to me with parts that are interesting and, even more fortunately, they want me to play those parts.

You’ve appeared in a lot of movies in the past couple of years. What’s next for you?

Right now the focus is on Star Trek. We’re in pre-production at the moment and I think that’s all I can say about it.

Are you excited to be going back to that franchise?

Yes, all of the cast are good friends now, so you’re catching up with them and, at the same time, taking this universe in a new direction – which I get to help with, being the writer for this film.

Finally, would you like to have the power Neil has in the film?

I don’t think so, no. Our film explores that it’s so tricky to monitor what you’re doing with the power – you can solve world hunger, but you end up with an obesity problem. So, while it sounds nice, nobody should really have that level of power.

Absolutely Anything is in cinemas from today. Star Trek Beyond is due out next summer

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: September 9, 2015 04:00 AM

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