Nick Frost has made a career out of working with best pals Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. From their initial TV project Spaced, which started in 1999, to the iconic Cornetto Trilogy, which came to a head last year with the third and final film The World’s End.
Now the actor is branching out. Not only is he currently on TV in new Sky show Mr. Sloane, but he’s readying the DVD release of his movie Cuban Fury. In the movie he plays Bruce, an overweight office worker who was once a teenage salsa dancing champ before a bullying accident stopped him following his dream - until 25 years later a love interest (played by Rashida Jones) reignites his passion for the dancefloor.
The concept was all Nick’s idea, and despite emailing the idea across to Shaun Of The Dead producer Nira Park while tipsy late one night, it turns out he was harbouring a wish to learn how to dance himself.
Did you ever think that you would be in a dancing rom-com movie?
Nick Frost: Erm, no not really. But after doing what I did with Simon (Pegg) and Edgar (Wright) I thought it was time to do something completely different. And I thought a dancing film would be it.
I don’t think I was fully prepared for what that meant in terms of preparation. Which was an absolute – you know, I loved it – but it was kind of hellish. But I’m also really lucky that I got the opportunity to do it for seven months.
So how did it come about because it was your idea wasn’t it?
NF: Yeah. I think I just wanted to do – I think it started with a thought about there’s more to attraction than aesthetic beauty, you know. It’s transient aesthetic beauty, as we get older it fades. But something like passion is attractive forever and that was kind of it, I guess.
When you came up with the idea it meant that you had to do all this dancing – was it secretly you just wanting to learn how to dance?
NF: Yes! I like dancing and it wasn’t a secret and I just wanted to do a film where I danced a lot. I did originally in my original pitch have a weird thought that I might dance throughout the whole thing. But once Jon Brown hammered out his story I was fortunate that I managed to not dance through the whole thing.
You had seven months of training, was that quite tough going?
NF: Yeah, I mean it was meant to be. I wanted to do it all myself and I wanted to do all the dancing. You know, there’s no joy when you cut away to someone else’s feet. We had to do it in one of the shots.
It seemed like fun. But I think just an hour in to the first day of training I thought, “Fucking hell, you idiot!” Because there’s mirrors everywhere and you can’t get away from yourself. I think I have a reverse body dysmorphia where I only ever see that bit (looking down to his feet). You don’t see around and now all of a sudden you can see it all, it’s like, “Fucking hell what am I doing?” And you’re being trained by some of the best dancers in the world and you don’t move like they do. I think it was only kind of 12/14 weeks in when I started to get movement like them and that it starts to become less daunting in terms of being bothered about what you looked like.
So you weren’t ever tempted to get a body double just to make your life easier?
NF: No! I wanted to do it all. When me and Simon do our filming all the stunts we do, it’s us and I think I took this on as this is the same sort of gig.
And as a character was it nice playing the likeable one, unlike Chris O’Dowd’s unlikeable character, Drew?
NF: Yeah, well I mean I like Bruce. You know, he’s a soft, fragile little thing but it’s always more fun playing the baddy or the dick. It’s always slightly more fun. When you’re playing the good guy you’re kind of harnessed by the fact he is good and you can’t drift away from that.
You’ve gone alone in this film minus Simon Pegg, although he did have a small cameo in it – was that always planned?
NF: Well I think we said let’s see if Simon can do just a tiny piece and it seemed like that was it – the little drive-by. We shot it LOADS of times though, I think it took about four hours. It’s just that me and Chris would ad-lib then there would be big long takes when me and Simon had a conversation about what I was doing and at one point he looked at all of the crew and said, “Who are all of these people?” But once you get into the edit and you see that that tiny drive-by when I looked at him and his look back, it’s enough, you know.
Obviously people reference all of the work you’ve done with Edgar and Simon because you have done so much together. Do you get sick of being thought of as a trio?
NF: No, not at all. They’re my gang. We’ve been together from the start and I think I’m lucky that I get to do that and I get to do other things too and then I get to go back to that. It’s a real treat.
So the Cornetto Trilogy is over – is that a relief or sad?
NF: No, it’s not sad. And I think we’re really proud that we set out – I mean, we didn’t say we were going to do a trilogy after Shaun but we did that and then Hot Fuzz and then I’m trying to remember what it was – I think Chris Tilly at IGN said, “Oh is this going to be your Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy?” And we laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s going to be our three flavours Cornetto Trilogy” and it kind of stuck. But I think we’re really proud that the three of us got to make three kind of iconic movies that people seem to love and want to watch time and time again.
And is there scope to work together again in the future?
NF: Oh, absolutely. I mean we’re no longer shackled by the rules that we set ourselves for those particular films but now we can do whatever, you know. But yes, we’re definitely going to do something else.
Out of any of them that you’ve done, would you ever be tempted to do a sequel?
NF: Never! It’s done. They’re done. Unless the sequel’s going to be as good or better than the first then you run the risk of retroactively fucking the first one up for everyone. I mean, one might argue that Hot Fuzz is a sequel to Shaun and World’s End is a sequel to Hot Fuzz if nothing but in tone and a gang of actors used – ensemble I should say.
The fact that Edgar’s left Ant-Man has been quite a big talking point. (Wright left the Marvel movie, eight years after originally being connected to it due to creative differences). As a friend and work colleague were you surprised or had you spoken to him about it?
NF: Edgar and I talk a lot and I’ve known what’s gone on for a long while and I think it’s for the best. If that’s what Edgar wants. I’m first and foremost one of Edgar’s best mates so if he’s happy now then that’s great for me and that’s great for Edgar.
There’s been a lot of support for him over it. I saw you re-tweeted Joss Whedon’s tribute (seen above). What did you make of that?
NF: I thought it was amazing. I thought it was fantastic. He’s a good egg. I’ve met him a couple of times, he’s a good man. It was good.
You’re also working on Mr. Sloane – it’s just started on TV. Are you pleased with the reaction to it so far?
NF: Yeah. I mean, I’m always surprised when people like stuff I’ve done! I’m like, really? People seem to really like him. I’m chuffed. I like the series. I loved working on it with Bob and Olivia and Ophelia and I’m glad it’s going down well. I hope we get to do it again.
Like you say, Olivia (Colman)’s in it. You’ve worked with her in a few things now, including Cuban Fury, is it weird her playing your sister then switching to your wife etc?
NF: Well that’s your job, you know. It was fine. I mean, I think if there would have been a kiss it would have been weird. Only because I feel like she’s my sister in real life! But you do what’s necessary.
And what’s next? Do you have any burning ambitions to do anything else specifically?
NF: I’ve written a couple of films in my down time so I’m now at a position where I’m starting to punt them out to people and see what happens. I mean I’m still waiting to hear whether or not this pilot I did is being picked up so everything’s kind of on hold until I know about that but I think a second Sloane. I really hope there will be another Sloane. I’ve got some great ideas and I think if people like it and watch it enough I don’t see why we wouldn’t.
It’s still quite early days with this series, when would you find out about that or do you have to wait until this season is wrapped up to gauge reaction?
NF: I mean I guess it’s up to Sky essentially. We just have to wait and see. It all comes down to figures. People might write the nicest things about it and me and Bob, but if no one watches it then sadly financially it’s not viable and that’s just how business works in this industry.
You started in TV (in sitcom Spaced with Pegg) then went on to all of these films, is it quite nice to be back working on a small screen production?
NF: Well it doesn’t feel any different. In terms of nuts and bolts of your working day it’s exactly the same. You might have slightly less equipment on TV but the language is the same and all the gears the same and you work the same hours, it doesn’t feel any different. It’s still all the same process.
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