Today: April 17, 2024

Paul Cast Interview

The long awaited Paul hits UK big screens on Mon 14 Feb, from national comedic favourites Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Beth Webb went along to hear what the cast had to say about the film.

What’s your favourite movie alien?

Jason Bateman: Paul! But also the Ghostbuster Marshmallow Man

Joe Lo Truglio: I’m a purist so actually I’m going with Alien.

Greg Mottola: I’m going to go with Yoda

Kristen Wiig: I was gonna go with Yoda! Is Chewbacca an alien?

Simon Pegg: I think in Starship Troopers in the scene where they’re attacking the base about 5 rows back on the left the little fat guy. He was just giving it more than the others y’know? I never saw him again.

Sigourney Weaver: I always liked the pod people in Invasion sleeping under your bed and your spouse can’t tell the difference, I love that concept.

SP: ’78 version or the ’63?

SW: I love them both.

Nick Frost: ET.

How much was the script influenced by the cast saying yes?

SP: And with regards to the script when it comes to cast you want to play to everyone’s strengths and not make them feel too constricted. Obviously Sigourney’s line “Get away from me you bitch”is used by Blythe and when I mentioned that we were going to use one of her most famous lines against her she said bring it on.

The script is pretty much a love letter but not anything anyone can take offense at. The Spielberg cameo was actually his idea; we didn’t ask he just said “why don’t I be in it?”

NF: Yeah and we were like no.

Do you think you’re going to get any grief from the Bible belt in America?

NF: Who doesn’t get flap from theBible belt in America? It’s just a road movie with aliens in it.

SP: If you have faith then a dope smoking alien isn’t going to affect that. We were really interested in the idea that someone can have their belief system shattered in a single moment and that’s why Kristen’s character is a creationist like a wing of Christianity. You can’t have an alien film without being anti religious even Mac and Me is anti religious. We’re not being anti religious that’s just the universe that this film takes place in. That sort of dogma can’t exist if Paul exists and I like that Kristen can change from one thing to another in a second.

JB: It took a lot of time and a lot of movies to make people think that maybe that’s not the way everything happened.

SP: There wasn’t an atheist protest when they created the 10 commandments.

NF: There wasn’t a protest at my local nativity play this year.

Were there any cinematic references that didn’t make the cut?

NF: Deep throat.

SP: We shot it too.

NF: There were a lot of things we started out wanting to see in the film and then you get to it and think you actually don’t need it when it comes to a very tight very good 100 minutes that hopefully a lot of people will laugh at.

SP: We didn’t just do things for the sake because the concept is that Paul has influenced every science fiction film ever so we’re retroactively ripping everything off because it’s all Paul’s idea. It’s very clever when you think about it.

Joe you actually played Paul yourself didn’t you?

JT: I did, I was on my knees for most of the shoot. It was great to work with Simon and Nick for two and a half months because I’ve been big fans of theirs since Shaun of the Dead and I was stoked to do that and play Riley, who is a fanboy with a badge. This mission in the movie for Riley is the biggest thing to happen to him since he saw Lethal Weapon 2.

GM: We couldn’t have done it without Joe because Seth was shooting Green Hornet so we prerecorded him doing all the scenes with Simon and Nick and then Joe and was really on cue but also improvved so Nick and Simon could play off him instead of just reading lines to him, and I think that plays a large part in why the film has life in it. And then when Seth came back to re-record his lines he stole a lot of Joe’s improvs and it was a great collaboration because Seth and Joe know each other and so it made it richer.

If you came across an alien in real life what would you say to them?

NF: Something like “Hello, you alright? Have you eaten?” And then we’d sit down and have a lovely meal. I’d cook.

SW: It would be a lucky alien.

Did you have to tone down the elements of peril to keep the certificate?

SP: We wanted it to be perilous because there needed to be danger. The reason we kill one of the characters is because he’s so loveable that you immediately think that if he can die anybody can die, so the rest of the film is like who’s going to get it next? We used to joyously talk about blowing them up on set. It’s important that there’s some threat in the film and something’s at stake; they’re not just going to tickle Paul when they catch him they’re going to cut his brain out his skull.

JB: It’s an R rated movie but it’s not because certain things happen that make it R rated, it’s the tone of the film, it doesn’t apologise.

Simon and Nick how similar are you to the characters in the film?

NF: We look like them.

SP: We’re kind of nerdy like that but we’re higher functioning nerds. We’re married for a start we don’t live alone.

KW: You wouldn’t travel in an RV.

SP: No we would not. There’s definitely a lot of love between them and Nick and I are best friends before we’re colleagues so we channelled a little bit of our own romance into it.

Sigourney is it more fun to play a heroine or a hard bitch?

SW: I loved playing a character who was the voice on the other end of the phone. I loved the movie, being part of this ensemble and I’m a huge fan of these guys so even if they didn’t let me wear such a nice dress I would have done it.

Kristen your character swears quite a lot, did you have a swearing coach?

KW: I just had these guys, I mean there were a lot of serious talks about it.

SP: It was just a case of getting offensive words and putting them together, Ruth didn’t know how to before so she’s not doing a very good job. “Get away from me you stupid vaginas” was a great line.

NF: There’s a great heritage to swearing, I remember asking a Danishman once what is the worst thing you could say to someone in Danish and he thought about it for ages and came back with “Long haired communist fag.” That’s a nicety in my house.

Sigourney, how many times have you resisted the urge to set yourself up and what made you chose this role, especially as it was with an alien and also written for a man?

SW: I like it when they just write a character where it can be a male or female. I have to be quite careful, I love the Alien franchise, and this was done within a context that I found believable. There are little homages throughout the movie and it’s a wonderfully classic comedy. If it wasn’t in the hands of these guys I would not have done it. My one reservation is that the role would have to be very organic and become funny as we shot it and I knew they would do this in a very seamless way.

Were there any on set practical jokes?

KW: There was a lot of singing.

SP: We used to write songs everyday. There was a running Paul The Musical that was being written as we were filming which featured songs such as Who’s the Alien Now? and I’m Just a Poor Little Creationist Girl. There’s a lot of time on a film set, and a lot of the time we would hang out together instead of going back to our trailers and we made a lot of odd games like what noise do you make when you fly away at the end of a sentence, making a face after a trumpet solo that kind of thing. Rather than practical jokes it was more finding ways to relieve boredom.

GM: I’ve never worked on a film where people stay out of their trailers so much it was beautiful.

Do you think there’s a good market for strong female comedic roles?

KW: Definitely this movie was very different from what I’ve experienced before. A lot of times I think females in big comedy movies are like the crazy neighbour which is one of the reasons I was drawn to this role. They thought about the female character and gave me so much comedic play.

SW: I think a good comedy is very hard to find and it’s true there aren’t many female driven comedies that are just about being goofy, they tend to be about shopping or getting married and I think that that’s too bad because we can be just as goofy as guys. I think with this new emphasis on geeks and nerds that women have to be not far behind, we’ll have our moment.

Greg were you conscious of channelling your inner Spielberg?

GB: Well there were a lot of things I had to do on this film I’d never done before, like turn up to work sober.

NF: You were sober?

GB: I grew up at the perfect time to love Spielberg, when Star Wars came out I was 13 so those films were my childhood. I can’t pretend that I could ever touch him in terms of technique but strangely I watched Duel and Sugarland Express more than any other movies. For me those movies came could not have been made a decade prior. And I read the script for Paul and had all the same love as was in this script for the same movies they reference. I was intimidated at first but Simon and Nick are like a walking encyclopaedia.

SP: You got to direct Steven Spielberg as well

GB: Yes, Steven Spielberg came in and had the phone conversation with Seth in a sound studio in LA and we were shooting Seth with multiple cameras for animated reference so I was waiting for them to me when all the cameras were up and running. And it was my first time of calling “action” for Steven Spielberg and I was waiting for cue, everyone else was waiting and finally Steven Spielberg just says “Can I start?” And it was really nice, I had to give him direction.

Jason you had a high impact action role was that a lot of fun for you?

JB: It was a lot of fun, where Joe and Bill were doing such great comedic work you often need a straight man. And my character is ripped as this straight guy, he’s basically expressionless and so my job was pretty easy in that sense apart from trying to keep a straight face.

SP: With Jason playing Zoil we wanted someone to be a threat, and originally I was very against having a comedic actor and then the studio said his name and I agreed. I think Jason is one of the only people that can do both convincingly, so you believe both sides of him. If you look at Arrested Development, Michael is essentially the straight man in that show and yet is one of the funniest characters. So it’s a rare gift and exactly what we needed for Zoil, we couldn’t have had that extraordinary double take at the end where you realise his name is Lorenzo Zoil, which is a joke we wrote a very long time ago.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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