Movies

Simon Pegg On How He Approached Portraying A Schizophrenic Music Producer With Care And Grace


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During our interview at The Roxy Hotel in New York earlier this week, Simon Pegg compared his new film, Lost Transmissions, to La La Land, but I see a fuller connection to A Star Is Born, though only on the surface. In the film, Pegg plays a music producer struggling with his mental health and Juno Temple plays his talented protege/caregiver.

But, as Pegg is happy to point out, Lost Transmissions eschews romance for a raw story about friendship. Pegg’s and Temple’s performances highlight the heartbreaking disconnect schizophrenics endure and the hardships of caring for someone in the midst of that while also struggling with one’s own issues. It’s a different look for the actor, but it also leverages that perception of who he is on-screen to more thoroughly devastate.

Here’s Pegg on that, the lengthy process of bringing this to the screen, copious research, his connection to the subject matter, and the challenge of not delivering a broad caricature when playing someone in a mental health crisis.

Can you tell me a little bit about how [writer/director] Katharine O’Brien got you involved with this project?

Simon Pegg: The script sort of came through my agency with a little description and it struck me that I hadn’t actually been in a movie that had been directed by a woman before, which felt incredibly remiss of me. Like, not that it was my fault, particularly. It was more the fault of the industry, the choices available to me… But, so I read it thinking, you know, this is an opportunity. I was delighted when I read the script. It was such an interesting story and it was a very different role for me. I felt flattered that she sent it to me in the first place. So, we started talking and we were talking about it for a couple years, almost. Because getting indie films made is difficult. Scheduling, all those kinds of things. I went out to LA and we went to see La La Land together. That was the first time we met. It’s funny because I feel like this film is kind of the anti La La Land. I love that movie, but it’s a very, sort of, colorful, bright view of LA.

Magical.

Yeah, and this is sort of gritty realism. There was a time where I was like, I might have to walk away, just because maybe I’m stopping you from getting it made, because I can’t, I’m tied up with other things. I think it was when Mission Impossible got pushed. There was a moment when we were gonna make it toward the end of that year, and Tom [Cruise] broke his ankle, so I wasn’t able to. But Katharine very kindly hung on for me. So we just dug in, and when I came out to do press for Ready Player One, she said Juno [Temple] had read it and liked it, which was delightful news to get. And then we were shooting it a few months later.

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