Even though Edgar Wright is only in his mid-thirties, the award-winning filmmaker has a roster of successful movies he’s written, produced and directed. Along with his writing partner Simon Pegg, Wright helmed the rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead, the action comedy Hot Fuzz and the faux trailer Don’t for Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse.
His latest movie Scott Pilgrim vs the World, is based on the popular graphic novels, and stars Michael Cena in the title role, as a charming bass guitarist for the band Sex Bob-Omb, who is totally obsessed by his desire to date Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). When he gets his wish, along with it comes her seven exes who are determined to kill Scott.
When did you first become aware of the graphic novels?
I first heard of Scott Pilgrim in 2004 when Bryan Lee O’Malley’s recently release first volume (Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life) was pressed into my hands. Given my previous work strived to mix up the mundane with the insane, I was hooked immediately. I loved Bryan’s use of manga and video-game iconography to depict the emotions of these young characters. Even before I’d finished the first volume, I was trying to imagine how it could work as live action.
Adapting these books was a gift, as they are not only funny, charming and relatable, but have increasingly crazy diversions into the fantastical. To be able to do romance, comedy, action and fantasy in the same feature was an intriguing challenge.
The best way to describe the world of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is that it’s a normal world of a normal young man, filtered through his overactive imagination. Bryan Lee O’Malley described Scott as ‘the hero of the movie in his own head.’ My goal is to make the very movie.
What were the challenges of turning the book into a film?
First and foremost was the challenge of how to take the sensibility and spirit of the books to the big screen. Partly that was the tone of the dialogue. Bryan and I have similar senses of humor and both enjoy undercutting the most insane incident with deadpan reactions. We also share an interest in starting a story in the naturalist world and then exploding into craziness.
Can you talk a little about the style you choose to do the movie in?
The emotions and interactions throughout the film are infused with the mass media that this generation has grown up with – not just in music, film and animation, but in over 30 years of video games. Our characters’ life experiences are completely governed by the enormous amount of time they’ve spent with their Nintendo consoles.
The film is set in a world of first apartments, crappy bands, thrift stores and coffee shops that we all know and love. It covers young love, loud music and big emotions. We see the world through a cast of young people who have a lot to give and a lot to learn. Oh, and people totally explode into coins!
The fight sequences are unique in the film, can you talk about how you envisioned them?
In the world of Scot Pilgrim, minor disagreements are resolved in moral combat. Our hero is thrown into a world of pain when he dates the girl of his dreams. The mysterious Ramona Flowers has something of a hex on her where her seven evil exes challenge her new boyfriend to a series of duels to the death. Many people have jumped through many hoops to pursue something unobtainable. Scott must literally fight for is new relationship if he wants to survive.
The increasingly crazy events of the film are almost the result of wild exaggeration. When teens or twentysomethings describe the events of a night out, they are usually blown out of all proportion. My take on the fights in the film is that they are hugely amplified versions of events. Someone might gossip about the ‘huge fight’ that broke out the night before. And here we see the huge version of that fight.
The fight sequences in Scott Pilgrim play out like big production numbers. In our film, people break out into fights the same way they explode into a song and dance number in a musical. When the emotion is too great to convey in mere worlds, characters in a musical will sing out. In Scott Pilgrim, they throw done.