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    Talking Apocalypse with the Cast of "The World's End"

    Written by

    Becky Ferreira


    Images: Laurie Sparham / Focus Features

    Last week, the author attended a roundtable with the cast of the upcoming film The World's End. The topic? The world's end, obviously. Warning: some spoilers follow.

    The World's End, the triumphant grand finale to the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy, will be unleashed upon the planet this weekend. Like the previous Cornettos—Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007)—The World's End uses genre tropes to blow an average plot out to the most ridiculous extreme imaginable.

    Gary King (Pegg) peaked in high school, and has been desperately trying to recreate his glory years ever since. He invites his old friends to finish what they started as teenagers: the Golden Mile, a bar crawl consisting of 12 pubs in their home town of Newton Haven. His estranged friends reluctantly agree, but it's not long before they figure out that something is not quite right at home.

    “It's not like we picked scifi out of the hat,” said Edgar Wright, of the choice to superimpose an alien invasion over the pub crawl plot. “It was literally an expression of our feelings about the town.” Pegg agreed that The World's End was inspired by “the weird sense of detachment you get when you go home; that odd combination of familiarity and alienation. We thought: wouldn't it be funny if we gave a very concrete reason for that hard-to-identify feeling, with that concrete reason being an alien invasion? So the notion of alienation is taken to its literal extreme.” 


    The film plays a lot with the idea of “Starbucking.” It's a shorthand term for small businesses losing out to multinationals, sure, but it also becomes an overarching theme in the group's struggle against the robots who have infested their town. What makes The World's End slightly different from the other Cornetto movies is the notion that conformity might be the smart bet.
    “The coffee shop that was there before the Starbucks was shit,” said Pegg. “Just because it's all new and corporate and branded doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing.” The same goes for the alien takeover. 

    “They're not 'War of the Worlds' type murderers,” said Pegg. “They just want the galaxy to be a nice place. Yeah, there's some individuality loss, but for the greater good—to take a phrase from Hot Fuzz—maybe it would be better to give yourself over to a higher power. Maybe we do need some control, and someone to tell us how many guns we can own, and maybe that will help us to not be such an erratic, dangerous species.”

    Pegg's character would—and does—vehemently disagree. The human attachment to independence versus the invaders' desire to ensure galactic harmony culminates in Gary King's brilliant last stand.

    “We love the idea that the human race is the first species they've ever encountered who are such a bunch of colossal assholes,” said Pegg.

    Pro tip 1: if an alien invasion ever goes down in real life, your best bet is to find Nick Frost. “I have a vast exit strategy for a number of different 'apocali,'” Frost assured us.

    Depending on the situation, Frost plans to hole up in his cellar or escape to the Hog's Back. Look for him there if you want to ride out the end of the world with some laughs. And don't forget to bring a Cornetto.