The Hot Seat: Simon Pegg

He's giving it all he's got in the new Star Trek (so the whole thing doesn't blow).

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Illustration: Rob Kelly


After fighting zombies, petty crooks and cellulite, English actor Simon Pegg, 39, is now ready to take on his toughest onscreen opponent yet—a notoriously unreliable warp drive. The Shaun of the Dead star picks up the role of cherubic space engineer Mr. Scott, made famous by the late James Doohan. Will the hip new reboot make true-blue Trekkies' heads explode? "It's weird," says Pegg, "because it's easy for non–Star Trek fans to just label Trekkies as this kind of slightly sad bunch of people, but they're just people who love their stuff. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I just hope they appreciate the gesture." Space time will tell.

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Like James Doohan, you're not even really Scottish.
Well, I think because I've got half a Scottish family that I'm just about qualified. I've become good friends with his [Doohan's] son Chris, and he's been really supportive and helped me find some connection with James Doohan. Some of my fellow cast members were able to meet their counterparts, but obviously myself and Karl Urban [who plays McCoy] couldn't. And Bill Shatner didn't want to [Laughs].

Shatner was one heroic son of a bitch though, wasn't he?
Absolutely. For all of us, I guess, there were big shoes that we were stepping into.

You and John Cho giggled and ran around on the bridge shooting phasers at one another, didn't you?
[Laughs] We giggled a lot, actually, me and him. We had a couple of running gags on set that we kept springing on each other. Everyone had a great sense of humor. But we actually wanted to address the material seriously, and not in a wry way. Because we were giving it everything we've got, to sort of take Scotty's parlance.

You're a Star Wars fan, but are now in Star Trek. Where do you fall on the irreconcilable divide between those two worlds?
Well, I was seven when Star Wars came out, and it had a seismic effect on me, the same as it did on many, many kids of that era. The generation before me, possibly, was the Star Trek generation. Star Trek, in the end, seems to have won the war, because it maintained its integrity, and now the effects are catching up as well. So you sort of get your Star Trek cake and eat it, too. I'm sure Star Wars fans around the world will want to kill me for saying that, and see me as a traitor, because I've always been a very outspoken fan of Star Wars, but I've never been publicly keen on the new ones.

We'll sort this out right now: Who wins in a race between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise?
Well, I think probably the Enterprise, because the Falcon can only make .5 past light speed. But the Enterprise can go like warp ten.

It can time travel by slingshotting around the sun.
It can outstrip the Falcon in a second. The Falcon would fall to bits.

That bucket of bolts. If you could teleport anywhere right now, where would you go?
Probably Greece. Kefalonia in Greece is one of my favorite places.

The birthplace of Western civilization.
Exactly. The cradle. I'd go there. And also they have really good piña colada.

You know what other device was awesome? The holodeck.
In The Next Generation? I think at the time of the original series, the holodeck was yet to be invented.

Remember Sherlock Holmes's nemesis, Moriarty, used to break out of that thing and wreck up the place?
[Laughs] Oh, that's right. I think I remember the actor that played him. The holodeck was such a fucking cheat. I say that, but I mean absolute stroke of genius, because you're in space, but can go anywhere in the world. And the fact that there's an option to turn the safety parameter off seems a bit stupid to me. Why do that?

Moriarty...
Yeah, jumped the shark.

Star Trek opens Fri 8.

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