Last night at the Apple Store in SoHo, NY, a press event was held for “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” the upcoming film based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novels. Speaking before press and fans were director Edgar Wright and actors Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, and Michael Cera.
To win over the crowd of the Apple Store, actor Michael Cera, who plays the titular character, greeted the audience with the declaration “F— PCs!” He later claimed ignorance when a film clip showed Scott Pilgrim using a PC instead of a Mac, much to the laughter of the others on the panel.
“When I read the first book… it reminded me a little bit of the television show ‘Spaced’ I’d done with Simon Pegg,” Edgar Wright explained. “’Spaced’ was a show where there were lots of dream sequences and flashbacks. But this film, and the books, felt like the dream sequence that never ends.”
Wright went on to offer some thoughts on the books, saying, “It would seem to be a story about boy meets girl, boy gets girl, but it’s really a story about… The path to true love is fraught with disaster. Ramona Flowers has baggage, but then Scott has baggage too, and he’s a bit of a hypocrite really.”
When asked if he was familiar with the “Scott Pilgrim” books beforehand, Michael Cera said he’s read the first two before filming. “They’re very Canadian and they’re very funny,” he added.
Asked if there was pressure concerning what to include and cut out from O’Malley’s original books, Wright said, “Bryan is an amazing collaborator because he’s not precious. He really understands that it had to become a movie. And I think in a weird way, Bryan actually prefers the film when it goes wildly off track from the books. And I think there are some scenes that visually just work better in the comics.”
“The first time I met Edgar, it was like the earliest meeting I’d ever had. It was at 6:30 in the morning because I was getting on a plane to shoot the first ‘Twilight’ film,” explained Anna Kendrick.
Despite the inconveniently early morning meeting, she was excited when Wright explained the project to her and who would be cast as the evil exes.
“Just the idea of [Edgar] choosing young Hollywood and having them fight to the death for his amusement — all of a sudden I saw him as the evil puppet master of this whole thing,” she laughed.
Kendrick said of her character, Scott’s younger sister Stacey, “I feel like Stacey is sort of the voice in the back of everybody’s head that tells you this is a really messed-up decision you’re making, and you should not do this. But it’s the same voice that you know you’re not going to listen to. … She knows [Scott’s] not going to listen, and because she’s a younger sister I think she sort of takes pleasure in watching him flounder around in awkward situations.”
Kendrick even spoke to O’Malley’s real-life sister, Stacey, who was the basis for her character, in order to get some advice.
“The real Stacey told me I should try to play it ‘more half-Asian,’” she laughed. “I did my best.”
“You were doing it full Asian at first,” interjected Cera.
“Yeah, it was a mess,” Kendrick answered.
She then revealed that the name tag her character wore in the film had belonged to the real Stacey when she had worked at the same coffee shop. Wright pointed out that, underneath the name, the tag reads: “Certified Coffee Agent.”
Kendrick also joked that the film’s action sequences were very easy for her as her character was only a witness to the fights and never a participant.
“[Wright] was someone I’d always wanted to work with,” said Schwartzman. “He’s English and most of his movies have only English actors and are made over there, so I never thought that I’d get to work with this guy. So when this opportunity came up, it was like an explosion for me. A good explosion, obviously.”
Schwartzman plays Gideon Graves, the final villain Scott must face in the film, and explained that advice from O’Malley and his own trust in Wright’s direction eased any worry that he was playing a character who, at the time of filming, had barely been glimpsed in the comic.
According to Schwartzman, one of the best pieces of advice he received from O’Malley was to “keep in mind that this movie and all of the books are from Scott’s point of view. So… know that maybe you’re not really expected to play Gideon Graves the way he really could be but the way Scott sees him.”
“The idea of Scott Pilgrim being an unreliable narrator is really interesting,” added Wright. “Maybe it’s all in Scott’s head.”
“We never shot it, but we thought about doing this alternate ending for the DVD where there would be a ‘Cops’-style ending where Scott Pilgrim is arrested for the murder of seven people,” he joked.
The audience laughed then as Edgar Wright imitated Scott attempting to convince the police that he thought his high-school girlfriend Knives Chau was actually 18 years old.
On the physical activity involved for the many fight scenes, Cera explained, “We all ran every morning and threw medicine balls to each other… Just so that we wouldn’t pass out during these fight sequences.”
“It was a really long shoot,” Wright added, commenting on the fight sequences. “It was basically like five months we shot this film.”
“I probably spent about four weeks on it,” Anna Kendrick commented. “But … I think about three weeks were kind of in the background of a fight scene.”