Working Title co-chief Eric Fellner looked anxious before Universal’s Comic-Con panel for Paul, an alien road-trip comedy reteaming Simon Pegg and his Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz co-star Nick Frost, as co-writers and co-stars. Seth Rogen voices the friendly alien that the two sci-fi geeks encounter after they leave Comic-Con for a road tour through Area 51. Sigourney Weaver, Jeffrey Tambor, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman and Jon Hader lend support. Director Greg Mottolla (Superbad) grabbed some exterior shots at the Con last year, but largely restaged the mammoth San Diego event with extras in Albuquerque. (According to Frost, when they asked if they could shoot inside the real Con, the fire marshall said, “no fucking way.”)
Fellner needn’t have worried; the panel played fine. My two-part flip-cam chat at Comic-Con with Pegg and Frost is below.
Pegg and Frost cooked up the idea for Paul back during the filming of Shaun of the Dead, when the weather was not cooperating, Pegg recalled, so they thought about how cool it would be to shoot a movie where it was sunny all the time, like a desert. “Seven years later, here we are,” he said, after writing the film in short bits and sketches. He and Frost did their own RV research road trip, from California to Wyoming. America is bigger than it looks on the map, they discovered. “We went for a whole day and did not see a soul,” said Pegg.
Given that Edgar Wright was not available to direct, they found their helmer in action-comedy Superbad‘s Mottolla. And Rogen had a fine time off-set shooting performance capture in a spandex suit covered with sensors. Universal opens the movie March 18. In the meantime, Mottolla has been keeping a production diary at whatispaul.com and Pegg is a frequent Twitter poster. (My Comic-Con fave: “Highlight of the day aside from the panel was literally bumping into Harrison Ford backstage in hall H. I definitely shot first.”)
Pegg and Frost talk Paul and Tintin at Comic-Con, Part One:
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Part Two: Why they didn’t make Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim and what’s next:
And their on-set promotion video: