INTERVIEW: Edgar Wright, Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick Talk ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’

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Photo: Universal Pictures

Only a few days after playing to a crowd of 6,500 at the San Diego comic book convention, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera and Anna Kendrick arrived in Seattle for only about 15 hours to talk to press before jetting off once again to Los Angeles. Luckily, myself and Laremy Legel writing for Film.com had a chance to sit with the trio to discuss their new movie out this Friday, August 13.

Based on Brian O’Malley’s graphic novel series of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a busy body visual feast of action, comedy and young love. To say the film is fun is an understatement. To say the interview was an absolute blast would be spot on.

I debated on whether I should break this up into a narrative style or just stick with the transcript and I think it plays a lot more entertaining just running the transcript since a lot of the more sarcastic and fun moments would have to be cut from a narrative.

So with that said, the interview begins just below and stay tuned for my review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, it’s a film I know I am going to be seeing again this weekend.

Comic Con was pretty big for you guys.

Edgar Wright (EW): Yeah, that was amazing. It was a real sense of relief on Friday morning because we had an amazing panel and screening Thursday night. Having worked on it for five years on the adaptation, two years on the actual film… What was great about it was, some people said showing it at Comic Con was like fanning the flames, preaching to the choir, but the truth of the matter is they are going to be the hardest critics of the film because they are the super fans of the books and believe there’ve been other films where you’re either met by a stony silence or boos. So getting the response we had was a huge relief to us really.

Have you read the Variety review where Peter Debruge insinuates there’s a 25-year-old cutoff for this film and anyone over that age isn’t going to be into it.

Anna Kendrick (AK): My mom’s 60 and she fucking loved it.

We’re in our 30s and loved it.

EW: I’m 36.

And you didn’t like it from what I understand.

EW: That’s the irony of it. I directed the whole film, but watching it thought, “Eh, it’s not for me.”

Michael Cera (MC): I’m not the target demographic.

Do you see that breaking off point? I’m in my 30s and grew up part of the Nintendo generation, which has an obvious influence on the style, look and feel of this film and I loved it. Then she [pointing at Anna] says her mother loved it, and it —

AK: She says? She says? My mom did love it.

EW: [Laughing]

You’re mom’s got a bias though… I didn’t want to bring it up…

[Everyone is laughing at this point]

Do you think there is any kind of breaking off point like that? Because I look at Scott Pilgrim as being a film for a rather broad audience. It’s an easy story to connect to.

EW: The way I’ve approached the three films I’ve done [Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim], is I make it for myself and hope other people are on board. That’s the only real way I can do it. I try to approach it as a film fan so it’s not cynical; it’s not chasing a demographic. If like Variety said — it’s for audiences under 30 — there are a lot of people under 30 in this world.

I just thought that break off just seemed so arbitrary and simply based on your lead cast members who are around that age and not much else.

EW: To be honest, if I watched this film when I was 12-years-old I would hope it would blow my head off. If anything, as approaching it as a film fan, I try to put myself in the mind of myself as a kid when I first saw Gremlins or Ghostbusters or Big Trouble in Little China. Something like that where I’m thinking, What is this? What am I watching? I love it, but I don’t understand why I love it.

Even before Comic Con when we did test screenings — because we did like five test screenings around the country — you could tell by people in the focus group, people that stuck around afterwards, there were people in the audience that had never seen anything like that before and kind of needed another hit immediately.

It’s definitely unique. I didn’t watch a single trailer and have never read the books so I had no idea what was coming. When it started and came to that first fight scene I was like, “What the hell?”

MC: You didn’t know the plot or anything?

I didn’t know anything.

EW: That’s a good way to watch it.

MC: That’s incredible!

We both try to do that with most films. Even a film such as Dark Knight we went in cold.

MC: You didn’t even know it was a Batman movie.

EW: [Laughing] It doesn’t say “Batman” in the title. It could’ve been a medieval film for all you knew.

We thought it was a Martin Lawrence sequel.

EW: [Laughing] Can we just clear up The Dark Knight is not a sequel to Martin Lawrence’s Black Knight.

Edgar Wright and Michael Cera on the set of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Photo: Universal Pictures

Do you worry about Scott Pilgrim being too modern or too busy? The beginning is really busy and then it begins to tone down a bit.

EW: I can’t watch it cold like an audience does. I watch it in kind of a rush, because it feels like two years of my life flashing before my eyes in 112 minutes. I’m a big fan of films that I grew up on and would watch obsessively, over and over again. If I didn’t feel like I got everything on the first watch good I want to see it again immediately. My favorite film of all-time is Raising Arizona. I watched it again as soon as it was over. I had it on VHS, rented it, and I watched it and said, “I want to watch that again, right now.” I think I did the same with something like Goodfellas, which is a completely different genre. I saw that at the cinema and went back the next day because I wanted to experience the rush again. So I’m that kind of audience member.

I also feel like so many summer movies do not give you your bang for $12. You know what I mean?

You get a lot of bang in this.

EW: There’s also something that you would come out of that thinking, “Wow, I got my value for my money with that film.” There are so many other things that you just feel you wasted two hours of your life.

Like The English Patient.

MC and AK: [Laughing]

EW: Nah, nah… I like The English Patient

It’s not a summer tentpole. Let’s put it that way.

EW: English Patient is longer than two hours as well. [Laughing]

Yeah, it’s still going on.

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