We caught up with the famed funny man to find out more about his dance movie, CUBAN FURY…
He may be one of our favourite funnymen, but it took three years for Nick Frost to bring his idea for CUBAN FURY to his producer. “I had to get drunk before
telling her,” he tells Movies.ie. “The sun is shining, and life is good,” says Nick Frost down the line from a sunny Twickenham. It’s raining here in not-so-sunny Dublin, which sparks an immediate apology from the salt-of-the-earth funny. “Oh, I’m so sorry. If I could send you some sunshine, I would…’
Nicholas John Frost has been sending us all plenty of sunshine ever since his mate Simon Pegg convinced him to give up his steady job in a Mexican restaurant and come play his best mate in a new TV series, SPACED. The rest is something close to hysteria, especially when it came to when that show’s director, Edgar Wright, and his two male leads teamed up for SHAUN OF THE DEAD, a low-budget horror comedy that soon became a cult favourite, and a surprise box-office hit around the world.
Since then, Frost, Pegg and Wright have had varied success, both at home and in great big old Hollywood, but their passion for making films that they’re proud to show their mates has remained throughout. With last year’s THE WORLD’S END, they ended their famed Cornetto trilogy – the middle film being 2007’s almost wonderful HOT FUZZ – and thankfully they delivered one of their finest and funniest films yet.
Flying solo yet again for this month’s CUBAN FURY, Frost is characteristically anxious about what people will make of it. “You always try and make a good film,” he says, “that’s a given. Whether you actually manage to make a good film is another thing entirely. I think we have. But then again, I am the executive producer here, so, you know, I have to say that. It’s in my contract…”
Despite the fact that writer Jon Brown worked on additional material on Pegg & Frost wannabes Horne & Corden for five episodes, and director James Griffiths had only tackled a movie on the little box (2010’s ROYAL WEDDING), you signed on for CUBAN FURY because…
Nick Frost: Well, I came up with the idea here. I’d sat on the idea for CUBAN FURY for probably three or four years, just too terrified to tell anyone that I had a secret yearning to do a dance film. Once I sent Nira Park, my producer and friend, an email essentially pitching this idea that I had – I was a little worse for wear from the drink – I woke up the following morning with an email from Nira saying, ‘That’s a fantastic idea – let’s do it’. So, basically, I had to get drunk before telling her. Having spent such a long time writing the script for Paul with Simon, I didn’t want to sit around for another two or three years writing a script. So, we went in search of some great, fresh young talent that we could work with.
Great little cast in CUBAN FURY – are the likes of Chris O’Dowd and Rashida Jones just buddies along for the ride?
NF: I’ve known Chris for about eight or nine years now. We worked together on THE BOAT THAT ROCKED with Richard Curtis, and Chris and I found we’d always hang out together a lot, and we just became friends. It’s a nice thing to be able to work with your mates, because it never really feels like work. And especially when it’s Chris O’Dowd on set. We just laugh a lot. And that’s always a nice thing. When it came to Rashida, I didn’t know her. I’d met her at parties a couple of times, and we liked each other’s stuff, we have friends in common. I had dinner with Rashida about a month before we started filming, and the two of us just completely hit it off. It just felt completely right. And Chris and Rashida really like one another, so, when the three or us were together, we always had a laugh.
Whenever you and Simon make something, especially together, I always think about what Tim Bisley and Mike Watt might make of it. Is it tough to judge your own work, given just how bluntly honest you guys are about other people’s movies?
NF: Yeah, em, well, look, I think… Me, Simon and Edgar as a three, but also as individual people, we’re so hard on ourselves in terms of the pressure we put on ourselves to not do films that are – pardon my French – shit. You know, we want to be honest with ourselves, and we want to be honest with the people who like us. That relationship is really important, because it means that people who liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD went to see HOT FUZZ, and they went to see PAUL, and SCOTT PILGRIM, and THE WORLD’S END, and hopefully the other things that we do. So, it is important to us, and we do think about it, but the external pressure that we feel from those people is nothing compared to the pressure we put ourselves under. Not to make a bad film – because everyone can make a bad film – but to make a film which inside you is honest, at the very least. I think it would be terrible if we just thought that, hey, we’ve done SHAUN OF THE DEAD, so, let’s just spunk up this shit onto the page, and they will like it. That’s a big error.
It must have been a great relief that THE WORLD’S END turned out so well. If you’d ended up with THE GODFATHER III or a MATRIX sequel, you’d just be insulting all your other good work…
NF: Yeah, that was a relief, absolutely. It was so nice, with SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and finish it with THE WORLD’S END, and all three of them compliment each other, and none of them take anything away from the other two. And that’s why it took so long between HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD’S END – we weren’t ready to make THE WORLD’S END. We had to go off and do other things, and grow up a little bit, and when it comes to fans of what we three do together, they know that if it takes us another five years to do something together, at the end of that period, you know we have taken our time and we have written something and created something that is close to us. Something that will always be honest and funny and truthful. I think people warm to that. They feel like they’re part of that process, and they’re not getting spoonfed shit just because we had some early success.
Do you ever regret getting out of the Mexican restaurant business? You were there for six years before Simon dragged you out and into SPACED…
NF: You know what, I’ve got to say, as bad as it was, we did get free lunches. So, some days I do think, God, I could murder a soft taco or an enchilada, but those days are few and far between now. I think I made the right choice…
CUBAN FURY is at Irish cinemas from February 14th
Words: Paul Byrne