Quick Interview: Scott Pilgrim's Edgar Wright & Brandon Routh
by Marco Cerritos
August 14, 2010
The second set of interviews for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World from San Francisco writer Marco Cerritos are with director Edgar Wright and actor Brandon Routh. This is Wright's third feature after the cult hits Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Despite the shift in style this time, he was up for the challenge. Routh, on the other hand, is used to working with lots of CGI and big sets, after all he starred in Superman Returns and is used to the grueling work. But for Scott Pilgrim, Routh left his red cape at home and decided to take a supporting role, playing a telekinetic evil-ex that our titular hero must defeat in order to win his true love.
The following is a brief conversation Edgar and Brandon had with FirstShowing's Marco Cerritos while in San Francisco where we discuss the challenges of making this kind of film, ex-boyfriends and eating vegan.
How are you feeling on this press tour?
Wright: I'm really liking the atmosphere in here. It's better than being at the Four Seasons because they all look the same. If you're at a Four Seasons you don't really know what fucking city you're in because they all look the same. It's the bad thing about doing these press junkets is you get to go to these amazing cities but all you see is the inside of the Four Seasons.
Are you doing another documentary with all the press tours put together like on the Hot Fuzz DVD?
Wright: No, the Fuzzball Rally was the first and last of those. In the UK it actually bumped the rating of the DVD up from 15 to 18 because of the amount of swearing. We swore too much and we got naked too much.
There's obviously a lot of video game influences in the film. What kind of research and nostalgic bits did you choose from to put everything together?
Wright: Reading the books made me nostalgic because a lot of the gaming references are from the late 80's and early 90's. I made a TV show called "Spaced" ten years ago and that was the last time I was a serious gamer. If anything doing that show was the end of an era for me basically because I had to get the console out of the house. I don't think Shaun of the Dead would've ever happened if there was a Playstation in the house. Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog are like lullabies to me. We didn't want the video game references to be alienating so if anything they're universal (no pun intended).
Routh: I played a lot of games growing up. I still do but more computer than console but my console playing is more with friends playing Halo, Rock Band or Gears of War. I had a World of Warcraft addiction for a while.
Wright: I like how people talk about World of Warcraft like it's a problem. I went to rehab and now I'm okay.
How were you able to find a balance between the action of the story and the romance?
Wright: That's definitely the challenge of adapting something and the juggling of comedy, action, romance and music. The tricky thing is a lot of them are all happening in the same scenes. What we tried to do was have the fights show how Scott Pilgrim is feeling in every situation. In the first fight he's in the middle of his honeymoon period so he feels strong and defeats Matthew Patel with ease. But then as the film goes on his insecurities creep up and he starts to get his ass kicked. By the time he gets to the fourth fight he's over it, he doesn't even know if he wants to play anymore. So I love this idea that it's not about him fighting the exes to get the girl, it's fighting to keep the relationship going.
What was it like to have the freedom to bring your vision to this project?
Wright: I think I was very, very lucky. I'm not sure the same film would get greenlit today. I feel very fortunate because the film got greenlit in December 2008 just before a major economy collapse and I remember flying to Toronto from London thinking I'm so fortunate to have a job for the rest of the year. I've got to hand it to Universal, they've been incredibly supportive. It's a pretty crazy film but you get a lot of people complaining about how generic most movies are so I hope they'll appreciate something new.
What non-video game influences did you have making this movie?
Wright: The comedy and the characters are obviously coming from the books and the action and video game stuff is an expansion of that. But the biggest influence were musicals because I had to create a level of reality whereby someone could explode into coins and have the story continue without people freaking out. So I thought planning the fights like production numbers in musicals was the best way. I started to look at the similarities between classic kung-fu films and Hollywood musicals and how much crossover there was. The stunt team on this film were all from Jackie Chan's fight school and Jackie Chan's favorite actor is Gene Kelly, John Woo's favorite film is West Side Story so there's a lot more crossover than people might think. Not many martial arts fans are fans of Bob Fosse, except me.
Brandon, do you share any qualities with Todd Ingram, the evil ex-boyfriend you play?
Routh: More than you know. I'm not vegan but I do eat vegan every once in a while. It's not given me the power of telekinesis yet.
Wright: Well once you cut out the meat that's going to happen.
Routh: I don't want to upset the balance in the world.
Can you float?
Routh: I can definitely float.
You guys are obviously doing these interviews back-to-back, is there one question that keeps popping up you wish would go away?
Routh: Do you have an evil-ex. Because even if we did who's going to talk about it?
Wright: That one's come up a lot. It's not like we're going to give out their home address.
Wright: Maybe next time.
Thank you to Universal as well as Edgar Wright and Brandon Routh for the interview. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is currently playing in theaters, so go check it out! Highly recommend.