Simon Pegg Thinks Any Rational Human Would Come To The Conclusion There Is No God
From Shaun of the Dead to Mission Impossible, I think it’s fair to say that when you think of Simon Pegg you can’t help but see him – for right or wrong – as charming comic relief.
However, his new film Lost Transmission, which screened at the Manchester Film Festival last week, sees him shrug off his ‘funnyman’ persona and get his teeth into a truly dramatic role. Pegg plays Theo, a music producer in Los Angeles in the midst of a schizophrenic break, whose friends battle to have him treated in the face of hideous inadequacies in the American healthcare system.
Simon was kind enough to sit down with me during the festival and let me ask him the usual bizarre questions we’ve subjected other celebs to, which I promise wasn’t at all embarrassing considering the serious subject matter of Lost Transmissions.
I hope you guys like this interview, it was a really special one for me as a writer because I’ve always loved Simon Pegg’s work, so getting the chance to sit down with him was a real treat… plus I didn’t have to go down to London to do it.
This is The Ten…
1) You’ve got a time machine, where’s the first place you’re going?
Simon Pegg: That’s a really interesting question and not entirely unrelated to a project I’m working on. I would say probably, I might nip into the future actually, to go and see what’s going on and see what becomes of us.
UNILAD: How many years into the future?
Simon Pegg: Oh, a hundred.
UNILAD: And what would you hope to see?
Simon Pegg: Well, what I hope for and what I’d expect are two very different things. I’d be hoping for a Federation-style co-operation between people, but I’m sure it would be a landscape of destruction and apocalyptic regret [laughs].
2) What’s the most famous-person thing you’ve ever done?
Simon Pegg: I don’t know?
UNILAD: Here’s an example, Tom Holland told me he pretends to be his own assistant when he calls up restaurants to make sure he gets a table.
Simon Pegg: Does he not have an assistant?
UNILAD: Well, that’s what I thought.
Simon Pegg: [Laughs] Well, I don’t really do that kind of thing really. Although I guess when I was shooting Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in Vancouver I used to get free passes to go up the mountain and snowboard and I put that down to my status as a minor celebrity, so I guess I fleeced Grouse Mountain for free ski passes.
3) If you weren’t an actor, what do you think you’d be doing with your life?
Simon Pegg: I think I’d still probably be working in film, I think I’d probably work in the sort of special make-up effects department. I’m very good friends with Greg Nicotero who is one of the founders of KNB EFX Group, who do all the effects for Tarantino and The Walking Dead. We met him when Shaun of the Dead came out and we knew him as the guy who was in Day of the Dead and worked under Tom Savini, and this is a very long way of saying I envy him.
UNILAD: Do you think you’d necessarily know all that stuff if you hadn’t become involved in film making?
Simon Pegg: Oh 100% I’ve always been a big film fan even when I was a kid, because that’s when Star Wars came out, and I used to watch all the making of documentaries about the practical visual effects and what was going on with that stuff. So I was always building things and making little films, so I think I would definitely have ended up having something to do with effects.
UNILAD: Do you have a favourite practical effect? The Thing immediately comes to mind for me when I think of that sort of work.
Simon Pegg: Oh yeah the spider-head Thing.
4) You have one wish and it has to be selfish, what do you wish for? No world peace.
Simon Pegg: Infinite wishes?
UNILAD: You know that’s not how Genies work Simon, have you not seen Aladdin!
Simon Pegg: [Laughs] Okay, I’d wish for a long, happy and successful life for my kid.
UNILAD: I don’t think that’s selfish?
Simon Pegg: Yeah it is because she’s my kid.
UNILAD: You’ve got me there, you’ve outsmarted the selfish genie.
5) Whose career are you secretly jealous of?
Simon Pegg: Nicholas Cage, because then I would have got to play ‘H.I. McDunnough’ in Raising Arizona, which is my all time favourite film and my all time favourite Nic Cage performance. I also love his ‘zero-fucks’ attitude, you know he’ll do some amazing films like Mandy, but then just go and do something smaller to keep things afloat. I like that, he just doesn’t seem to care.
UNILAD: So could you see your own career going down a similar path?
Simon Pegg: I don’t know? Now that Nick [Frost] and I have started Stolen Picture [Simon and Nick’s production company] I think I’ll probably end up more of a behind-the-scenes guy. I want to direct.
UNILAD: Is it through working with Christopher McQuarrie you’ve got the directing bug?
Simon Pegg: [laughs] Kind of, Chris is great, he’s more than happy to put up with me bothering him by asking questions.
6) What is your strongest held opinion?
Simon Pegg: That God doesn’t exist.
UNILAD: I see. And when did you first come to that conclusion?
Simon Pegg: I think that any rational human would come to that conclusion.
UNILAD: I think people – like my editor, who’s religious – might disagree with that?
Simon Pegg: But I don’t think there’s any other conclusion that you can come to if you really look at all the fact-based evidence to the contrary. As a species we so value ourselves, way too much, and we overplay our own significance on this planet, when really we’re something of an aberration. I don’t think we were supposed to happen.
We’re the only animal in nature that doesn’t work in the environment and I think it’s because our rationality has evolved faster than our mid-brain, so we’re in a constant tension between our amygdala and, I think it’s the hippocampus, which has all of our basic programming in it.
God wouldn’t do that, we’re a fuck-up, we’re a mistake. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re meaningless, and I think we should celebrate the accident of us being here, but there’s no way that a divine being would create Earth as it is.
UNILAD: But surely the argument is always God gave humanity free will?
Simon Pegg: Nah but God’s not designed us properly. It’s not about what we decide, it’s that we’re badly designed. So any divine entity who could create something as perfect as Earth would not have messed up like this. It’s like throwing paint all over a really nice beautiful painting.
UNILAD: Tell that to Jackson Pollock
Simon Pegg: [Laughs] That’s a different type of art, but okay it’s like throwing shit all over a nice painting.
7) What’s something you’ve never admitted publicly but you’ll tell me now?
Simon Pegg: Nothing.
UNILAD: I presumed you’d say that, can you not think of anything, it doesn’t have to be something serious.
Simon Pegg: [Laughs] I can’t think of anything, I’ve not really got any secrets that embarrass me that way. I don’t really have anything and there are no secrets I’m keeping.
UNILAD: So you live your life as an open book?
Simon Pegg: I like to and I try to. I mean if I wasn’t honest I wouldn’t have blurted out that entire anti-religious tirade.
8) You’re stuck living the same day over and over, what day would it be and why?
Simon Pegg: Well, setting aside all the family stuff so I can give you a fun answer, one of the bluebird days when it’s snowed the night before, the sun’s come out and you’ve got blue skies and fresh powder.
UNILAD: What about the family stuff?
Simon Pegg: Well, I could say the day my kid was born, but then I never get to know them, or a happy family day? I’m happiest when I’m at home with my wife, my kid and my dogs.
UNILAD: Combine that with snowboarding?
Simon Pegg: And there you go, best day ever.
9) Have you ever been left convinced – or at least persuaded – by a fake news story about yourself?
Simon Pegg: No, about myself?
UNILAD: To give you an example, Aaron Paul had to call his own agent to make sure he wasn’t Han Solo in the new movie.
Simon Pegg: Oh really? I find stuff like that really frustrating, like I was talking to someone about Star Trek the other day, and then like four days later it had come to ‘Simon Pegg blames Marvel for Star Trek delay’, which is just not what I said. I find that really boring.
UNILAD: I imagine that has to be a real pain in the arse as a celebrity, the game of Chinese whispers that the media sometimes plays, with snatch quotes or they’ll take something you’ll say about doing a Marvel film and kind of misrepresent that?
Simon Pegg: Yeah because they drill down on the quote and everyone’s so desperate for clickbait that things get exponentially further away from what you say. That’s why anything I do when I’m being interviewed for Lost Transmissions, which is a beautiful, sensitive film about schizophrenia, I’ll end up having to answer questions about Tom Cruise, and it’s just boring.
10) Now it’s time for the big one…
Simon Pegg: [Laughs] Will I ever do a Marvel film?
UNILAD: Well we know you hate them for delaying Star Trek.
Simon Pegg: Well, exactly!
UNILAD: No, the question is – if you had to remove one colour from the world forever, which would it be and why?
Simon Pegg: Holy fuck! Brown, oh maybe not, there are some nice browns. Oh god, this is a really good question, maybe acidic green because it’s the colour of fear and nasty emotions. Not all green just acidic green. ‘Acidic green can fuck off’ use that as your headline.
UNILAD: You’ll see this in a few days with the headline ‘Simon Pegg blames Marvel for acidic green and he hates the Hulk’
Simon Pegg: Oh no not the Hulk! I love the Hulk.
Lost Transmissions is available to download now.