The new Spaced DVD comes out today, and director Edgar Wright and writers/stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes are signing in New York as I write this, but they actually hit the Big Apple last night to host a screening and Q&A, and the event was a resounding success. There was a line of hopeful attendees stretching from 2nd Avenue all the way to 3rd Avenue (that's far, for you non-New Yorkers), and while not everyone in line was able to make it into the event (which was held at the small but pretty Village East Cinemas), Hynes, Pegg and Wright walked the length of the queue, shaking hands and posing for pictures with everyone who was waiting.
Once (nearly) everyone was inside, they introduced the three episodes -- "Art" (1.3), "Epiphanies" (1.6) and "Gone" (2.5) -- providing a quick guide to the British pop-culture references they contained, and left us to enjoy them. In the audience for this once-in-a-lifetime presentation were several comedy notables, including David Cross (Arrested Development), Paul Rudd (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad, The State). I spent most of the evening building up the nerve to ask Paul Rudd for a quote about Spaced for this article, but obviously, that didn't work out. Damn this paralyzing fear of being a bother!
After the episodes, Pegg, Hynes and Wright came back on stage and answered questions posed by Elvis Mitchell (including the same question at least three times), as well as a few questions from the audience. Here are a few interesting things we learned:
- Simon Pegg's comic-book-drawing character, Tim Bisley, originally had a different last name, but they changed it to Bisley after artist Simon Bisley, famous for drawing Lobo and ABC Warriors. Bisley, described as a tough biker character, became a friend of the production, and once called Pegg at 3:00 in the morning to drunkenly accuse the actor of sleeping with his wife.
- Edgar Wright was almost fired as the director of the show because he wouldn't let a BBC executive watch the dailies. Since all of the season's episodes were shot at the same time, none of the scenes shot in a given day were necessarily related, and he didn't think the exec would get a good sense of the show from them.
- The first time a BBC executive visited the set, it was when Jessica's writer character, Daisy, was on stage doing her performance art piece, shouting "Rabbits Rabbits Rabbits!" next to a hanging mannequin emblazoned with the words "Big," "hard," and "now."
- Pegg was reluctant to make fun of performance art, because he believed that there was good performance art out there. In fact, he had done it in college, and once stood on stage naked, covered in meat.
- David Walliams, who played performance artist Vulva, was a year below Pegg at university, and the two of them were in a comedy troupe with Walliams' Little Britain partner Matt Lucas. Walliams also dated Katy Carmichael, who played Twist.
- Influences cited by Pegg for the show were The Simpsons and Northern Exposure.
- Michael Smiley, who played Ecstasy-and-rave-loving Tyres O'Flaherty, was a friend of Pegg's and Nick Frost's who was actually like that in real life. Pegg recalls a time that a naked Smiley crawled into the kitchen, stole two cigarettes out of someone's jacket, and crawled back to the bedroom.
- The role of resident artist Brian was originally going to go to Julian Barratt, who is now on The Mighty Boosh. Pegg and Hynes co-starred with Barratt on the show Asylum, a comedy set in a mental institution. Mark Heap, who replaced him in the role, brought a much different take to the character, replacing Brian's pompousness with insecurity.
- Wright, who looked to John Woo for inspiration when filming the fake gunfights in "Gone," once met Woo, who told him, "You do comedy. We very happy for you."
- In the episode where they watch the Star Wars films, they weren't allowed to use the original music, so it all had to be re-recorded. Pegg, Frost and Wright sing the Ewok theme song. When the original Star Wars films were finally issued on DVD, Lucasfilm sent Pegg a set in the mail.
- Jessica's favorite reference in the entire series is when they hired Tim Sampson, son of the Native American actor Will Sampson, to pay tribute to his father's role as Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
- On the set of his latest film, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, in which he appears with Gillian Anderson, Pegg asked director Robert Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) not to mention his Spaced character's obsession with the X-Files star. The first thing Weide did when he had them together was ask Anderson, "So what do you think of Pegg wanking over you on Spaced?"
- Whenever the cast watches Lee Ingleby's performance as a teenage thug in "Gone," they have to laugh at how serious he plays the role, especially his awkwardly intense exchange with Pegg in the bathroom. Ingleby went on to play Stan Shunpike in the Harry Potter films.
- Some never-used ideas for Spaced Season 3: Open on Tim and Daisy having a conversation in a fancy restaurant, as if they're on a date. However, just like at the beginning of Season 1, they're actually having conversations with other people; they just happen to be in the same restaurant. (The two are not a couple.) Also, Marsha's daughter Amber would finally be revealed, and a lightning strike would cause Mike's mustache to fall out, turning him into a normal man.
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