Simon Pegg on 'Fat Boy,' 'Star Trek'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did any particular films inspire you for Dennis' marathon training montage?
I think you're very hard-pushed nowadays after Team America to do a montage and not look a bit foolish, because Matt Stone and Trey Parker sent up that device so brilliantly in Team America with that song [''Montage'']. When presented in the script, as I was, with a montage that Michael had written quite rightly because we needed to advance the plot and see Dennis get slightly fitter, I actually e-mailed Matt and said, ''Look, do you mind very much if we have a Team America poster up in that flat?'' Matt checked with Paramount for me, and said, ''Go for it.''

I noticed that poster and was going to ask whose idea it was.
That was me saying, ''Look, I know I'm using a montage, but I kinda have to,'' and anyone with the wherewithal to spot the reference wouldn't be totally disappointed in me. [Laughs]

A preemptive apology.
Exactly. That's what it was: a preemptive apology.

Let's talk about another e-mail. I read that's how J.J. Abrams offered you the role of Scotty?
[Laughs] I was getting off a plane with my wife when the e-mail came through. I just sort of stared at it, and then showed it to her and she stared at it and burst out laughing. Then I burst out laughing. J.J. is that kind of guy. He phoned me for Mission: Impossible III personally, and then we got on like a house on fire, and then he just sent me this e-mail out of the blue for Star Trek. He just said, ''Do you want to play Scotty?'' I knew he was doing Star Trek, and I'd head rumors about James McAvoy playing the part and I was thinkin', Ah, that'll be fun. It didn't even occur to me to phone J.J. and say, ''Hey, think about me.'' I thought I was too old, and it wasn't gonna happen. So when I got the e-mail, I was like, ''F--- Yeah!,'' to quote Team America.

Did you find the mixed reaction to your casting perplexing?
Not at all. I completely understand it and I would have the same reactions myself. On one hand, there's been really positive [responses]; on the other hand, people have said ''I don't understand. Why is he playing Scotty?'' I think people are worried that I'm going to undermine the franchise by being outwardly comic, which is absolutely fair enough. They're fans of that series, and it's very dear to them. I don't begrudge anyone's opinion in that respect. I would hope that I can put their minds at rest and tell them that I am approaching it with complete and utter dedication to the original series. James Doohan's character was a wonderfully robust, rough-and-tumble, part genius/part street fighter. He's a great character to play, and James played him with an enormous amount of sympathy, and I tried to approach the role like he did. Get the character and say, ''Okay, he works in outer space, he's a physics genius and an engineer, and he comes from Linlithgow in northwest Scotland'' — and not go out there and try to do an impersonation of James.

And your wife is a Scot, so she helped with the accent?
She's a Glaswegian, so she was there for me on set. She was the best gauge I could have because she'd tell me, ''You're too East Coast. You should say this or that.''

NEXT PAGE: Pegg's U.K. sitcom Spaced comes to the U.S., and the true meaning of the word ''geek''


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