In this week’s Reel Rundown we check out just how far talented British actor and writer Simon Pegg has come since his early days as one of TV comedy’s rising stars.
The man from Brockworth in Gloucestershire, who appears in this week’s new romantic comedy Hector and the Search for Happiness, started out in 1990s quirky TV shows like Big Train and Asylum. Pegg displayed an imagination as both writer and actor to not only create unique and offbeat characters but the skill to portray them on screen.
That eventually brought him to the attention of Hollywood and what bigger movie franchise is there than our fifth placed film Star Trek.
5. Star Trek
Pegg gets to live out a childhood dream appearing in J.J. Abrams’ revamp of the franchise. The self-confessed Trekky plays the starship Enterprise’s maintenance whiz kid Scotty. Like a kid in a candy store, across Star Trek and its sequel Into Darkness, Pegg gleefully gets to go space adventuring with Captain Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise gang.
There’s similar extraterrestrial fun in Paul, our film in fourth. This time the story is very much grounded on earth as Pegg, alongside frequent co-star Nick Frost, play comic book fans on their way to San Diego’s Comic-Con. En route the pair inadvertently pick-up a smart-mouthed alien (voiced superbly by Seth Rogen) and have to help him evade capture by ruthless government agents. This fun buddy comedy is peppered throughout with delightful references to well-known sci-fi classics, taking obvious inspiration from the likes of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with stars Pegg, Frost and their CGI companion clearly having a ball.
3. Run Fatboy Run
Now third on our list sees Pegg become the unlikely romantic lead in David Schwimmer’s Run Fatboy Run. Getting cold feet when about to marry his beautiful fiancée, Pegg’s Dennis Doyle finds himself the jealous “ex” years later and vows to win his former girlfriend back by running a marathon and proving his doubters wrong. An assortment of eccentric characters help Pegg turn his beer belly into a six-pack as he battles an alpha male – in the form of Hank Azaria’s Whit – for his true love’s affections.
2. Hot Fuzz
Now onto number two on our list and it’s the second film in Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy. Here he is the by-the-book police Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a dedicated and successful member of the Metropolitan Police Force. When he is assigned to a sleepy English village in Gloucestershire he must quickly whip his big-hearted but errant deputy into shape when a murder mystery unfolds. Hot Fuzz is a smart celebration of the Hollywood buddy cop genre that neatly mixes homage and parody with the quirks of its quaint countryside setting.
1. Shaun of the Dead
So that brings us onto our number one pick which is, of course, Shaun of the Dead. As a wayward, directionless Londoner who spends way too much time in the pub with his best mate Ed, Pegg finds themselves in the middle of the apocalypse after an mysterious virus turns everyone infected into flesh eating zombies. With equal helpings of comedy and horror, the surviving group retire to their favourite haunt – the Winchester pub – and with pool cues at the ready, must fend off a wave of zombie attacks until, hopefully, the cavalry arrives. With the jokes as thick and flowing as the blood and entrails, Shaun of the Dead is one of the finest examples of horror and comedy done well.