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Simon Pegg: The Cornetto Trilogy and Beyond


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English actor, screenwriter, and comedian Simon Pegg is loved on screens both in the UK and internationally. For many, he is the epitome of geek actor made valuable – from his early TV role in Spaced to inaugurating performances in The Cornetto Trilogy, he promptly established stardom in coveted Hollywood roles.

With such a wealth of great movie and TV performances behind him, here’s a look at Simon Pegg’s growth as a film star.

What started off as a recurring joke in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz - ‘want anything from the shop?’ – saw Pegg with his acting companion Nick Frost break new ground in a comedy/horror/parody subgenre. Directed by Edgar Wright, the simple repeated use of a brand reference became a thematic continuation for new concepts continuing from one film to the next. Pegg dominates in his role as police constable Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz, leaping over walls, chasing crime, and ultimately being a far too good policeman.

The value of friendship between himself and Frost’s PC Danny Butterman is spreads across the trilogy despite taking on different roles each time. The pair of actors are prone to reusing gags, actors and the overall buddy movie concept, and over the course of the three films manage to each time transform their 'losers' into 'winners'. 

The pair are unlikely movie stars, yet stars they are with Paul taking them all the way to Hollywood. Greg Mottola’s sci-fi comedy saw Pegg in a somewhat archetypal role, yet despite receiving mixed reactions, the character of Graeme Willy – the nerdy, unassured hero of the piece – plays to everything Pegg specialises in.

Still, though Paul has comedic value, it lacks any deeper themes, especially by comparison to The World’s End. The final chapter of the trilogy stands as a sci-fi comedy featuring hopelessly maturing school friends reuniting to recreate a day of their youth. At the same time as commenting on commercialised Britain with chain pubs, and retail high streets, the heart-breaking connotations about the dangers of clinging onto a romanticised youth emerges through Pegg’s role as Gary King.

Originally concentrated in low-budget comedies, Pegg captured the heart of audiences along with the eyes of global producers/directors, including JJ Abrams, who cast him as Benji Dunn in Mission Impossible III. Appearing as the comedy tech character, the small but expansive role significantly increased his Hollywood scope, with him since becoming a more important member of the Mission Impossible team, as well as featuring in blockbuster Star Trek Beyond, and playing junk dealer Unkar Plutt in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What he’s done as a British actor is exceptional; if one counts the Cornetto films as a franchise, he also featured in Star Trek and Star Wars. That places Pegg in a remarkable set of three franchises. With Shaun of the Dead conceiving the spirit of Spaced, British cinema allowed its successors Hot Fuzz and The World’s End to translate this comedy to a welcoming audience.

Pegg has deservedly become a Hollywood player, with a commitment to making real comedy with real laughs.

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