Simon Pegg is known best for his comedic exploits in movies such as Shaun of the Dead, as well as his other collaborations with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Even in the franchises he’s taken part in, such as Mission: Impossible and Star Trek, Pegg manages to get laughs. But his latest movie, Inheritance, showcases a new, darker side of the actor.
Inheritance, directed by Vaughn Stein, centers on the patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family, played by Patrick Warburton, who passes away very suddenly. He leaves behind a shocking secret inheritance for his daughter, played by Lily Collins, that threatens to unravel and destroy their lives. Simon Pegg plays Morgan, a role for which he underwent a dramatic physical transformation. It also marks his second collaboration with Stein following 2018’s Terminal.
I recently had the chance to speak with Simon Pegg about the movie. We discussed how he got into shape, what makes things click creatively between himself and Vaughn Stein, as well as his hope that the theatrical experience will continue in the future. Enjoy.
Inheritance is unlike anything, at least that I’ve seen, that you’ve ever done. It’s dark. You’re certainly not meant to be the comedic relief. Was doing a role like this something you had always wanted to do. Was it just a matter of not having the right thing come your way? Because you were amazing in it. I’m just curious why you hadn’t done more stuff like this in the past.
Simon Pegg: I never set out to be a comedic actor really, as such. I wanted to be an actor, and that meant doing all sorts of things. When I graduated from university I went into stand up because comedy was something I loved and it was a good way of having some kind of say over my career. After stand up I drifted into working with other comedy people, and that’s sort of what I ended up specializing in. There was a period of time when I just wanted to work at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I think the roles that I’ve got off the back of the other things I’ve done have always leaned towards the comedic, even the stuff I’ve done in Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Those characters are lighthearted. I would hesitate to say exclusively the comedic relief, but they certainly have a comic edge. This was a good chance to do something a little different. I had done a movie called Lost Transmissions as well, which came out earlier in the year, which is about schizophrenia, and that was very, very different to anything I had done before. It’s nice to do different stuff.
Speaking of different, last year a photo of you circulated. You underwent quite the physical transformation for this role. What was that process like getting into that kind of shape? Was it, I don’t know if I pleasurable would be the right word?
Simon Pegg: It was fun. The film got delayed by a couple of months so I kind of just kept going. I got to a point and kind of just kept going. I was running like about ten kilometers every day, six days a week for three months. I did it very carefully. I wasn’t reckless with it. I worked with my trainer and a nutritionist just to make sure that I wasn’t depriving myself of anything or being unhealthy. Sure enough, if you eat less when you move more, you’ll lose weight. I ended up getting down to, I think 68 kilograms. But I felt like I needed to at least look like I might have been trapped in the bunker for 30 years. I didn’t really want to go in there and look well-fed and healthy. I kind of felt like I really should try and prepare for this role, and so that’s what I did. But I ended up just having a bit more time. I was really, really thin.
You worked with Vaughn Stein on this. You worked with him twice recently. I spoke to him. He’s a lovely guy. He’s great, but what is it about him that you connect with creatively? Because you guys have obviously got a working relationship going. What is it that gels between you two?
Simon Pegg: We did Terminal together, and we had such a good time on that film. It was a really fun shoot. It was a little indie. You’re always sort of up against it. It makes for a unified, fun experience. Most of the time. So, Vaughn sent me the script for Inheritance. I read it and I thought, “Oh this is a great little compact thriller.” It’s almost like a two-hander. It was fun, and it was Vaughn who I really, really enjoyed working with. When Lily was cast, it all fell into place. I was thrilled to get to do all of those scenes with just me and her. It was pretty fun.
Lily was really good in this too. Most of it is mostly you two, and you both had really good chemistry. I feel like I don’t see her enough.
Simon Pegg: I think she carries the movie so brilliantly. So much of it rests on her shoulders and she’s so good. I’m a big fan. It was a real pleasure to work with her.
There’s a lot of uncertainty right now in the industry. A lot of movies are delayed. Nobody can go to theaters really. What does it mean for you as a creative person to actually have something coming out right now that can offer people an escape? Does it have a little more weight than it might otherwise normally have?
Simon Pegg: It’s definitely an interesting situation. The two films that I’ve had come out during this period, Inheritance and Lost Transmissions, are both independent films, which may not have got a super wide cinematic release. It’s possible that being released onto the streaming platforms that they might be seen by more people. That goes for independent cinema, I think, which is part of the reason why Martin Scorsese made The Irishman for Netflix. It’s an interesting time, really.
I think the tragedy of cinema facing uncertainty is that we lose the communal experience of watching films together. As we become more insular as a society, as we become more isolated, and I don’t mean in terms of what’s happening now, but just generally. With our phones and our big screen televisions in our houses. It’s a shame that we’re being encouraged to stay in, in a way. At the moment we have no choice. If anything, for the indie movies coming out, it is a good thing, I suppose. It’s intriguing. I guess what will happen is whatever makes the most money will prevail. That idealistic idea of us all sitting together as strangers in a room enjoying a film together. If the studios think they could make as much money just putting them straight onto streaming platforms, then that’s what will happen, sadly. I would be worried for theatrical cinema. I hope it isn’t a casualty of the revolution.
Inheritance is now available on DirecTV and will be available On Digital and On Demand on May 22 from Vertical Entertainment.